White Sox southpaw Chris Sale is due to make a start against the Giants tonight and if you keep your ears open during his postgame interview, you might catch a well-placed example of a strong vocabulary word that he’s slipped into one of his responses.
That’s because Sale and team video coordinator Bryan Johnson have been in cahoots since the beginning of the season to see if the pitcher can manage to use a predetermined “word of the start” in his postgame interview. No randomly throwing it in, either; he must use it correctly. Here’s an example:
“For me, it really kind of ameliorated any concerns I have with my arm, or, you know, any thoughts I have…”
Ameliorate (verb): To make better or more tolerable.
MLB writer Scott Merkin noted yesterday that so far Sale has successfully completed this unusual challenge 17 times this season, one for each of his starts, minus Opening Day. Other words, some of which you can see him use in this supercut put together by MLB, include "ubiquitous," "capitulate," "acquiesce," "cacophony," and "voracious."
Sale says he and Johnson were trying to get the rest of his teammates to do it at first, but since “that seemed to be kind of hard,” he was the only one who kept it going. Teammates Adam Dunn and John Danks were reportedly in on getting Sale to use the word "indubitably" after their game on April 6, which set the whole thing in motion for all his starts to come.
The cat may be out of the bag now, but at least now you know to be on the lookout for a “good word” to add to your own repertoire.
Sale’s ongoing word challenge brings to mind a similar dare that FOX sportscaster Joe Buck carried out on the national stage. In an interview with Conan O’Brien shortly before the 2007 World Series began, Buck admitted to accepting challenges from friends to slip certain words like “wasabi” into his commentary on the air.
Not wanting to pass up the opportunity, O’Brien challenged him to work in “Jub-Jub,” a nonsensical word the comedian coined way back when he was a writer for The Simpsons (which made it into the show as the name of Selma Bouvier’s pet iguana), and wagered $1000 to charity if Buck could do it. Lo and behold, during Game 1 of the Series he threw the broadcast down to “our own little Jub-Jub, Chris Myers.” The joke got a bit of a second life last year when J.J. Abrams appeared on Conan and agreed to work the word into the Star Wars movie he's working on as an Easter egg.