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Expressions from Sports

You can learn colorful English very easily! If you want to speak English the way native English speakers do, try adding some sports expressions to your language. Language is related to people's experiences. In Teacher Joe's country, people love baseball and some of the language from baseball has entered every day language. Learn the English expressions below and then notice how people use them in many situations

To begin with, have you ever wondered why a popular song or movie is called a "hit song" or a "hit movie"? The reason is because "It's a hit!" is a good thing in baseball. It means the batter has successfully hit the ball. So anything good or anything popular, can be "a hit". After getting a hit, a baseball player runs to first base. So, "get to first base" (or just "get to first") can mean to start something successfully. It could be the first step in getting a job, meaning you may have had an interview, but you don't know if you will get the job yet, you don't know if you will "score".

The very best kind of "hit" in baseball is the "homerun" which is when a player hits the ball over the fence and out of the stadium. People often talk of a big success as a "homerun". In a business negotiation, if we get what we want, we can say "I hit a homerun". Or after a successful business presentation, we could say, "I hit it out of the park". If someone is trying very hard, we could say that she is "swinging for the fences", which means she is trying to hit a homerun. Good luck to her!

One of the worst things to happen is baseball is to miss the ball completely. If you fail to hit the ball three times, you have three "strikes", which equals a "strikeout". So, when someone has trouble in life, we could say that he "struck out". If you are close to failing, for example if you have tried twice with no success, then you could say that you "have two strikes against you". If you already have two strikes, you had better be more careful on your third chance!

When you have two strikes against you, you might expect the pitcher to throw his best pitch, his fastball. But then he might surprise you, by throwing a slower curveball. In real life, if someone surprises you, you could say he "threw me a curve". Even life can sometimes surprise you with an unexpected problem, so a person might say "life threw me a curve".

Oddly enough, most American boys rarely play baseball! A baseball is very hard and it is thrown very fast. More often, we play with a softer ball, and we call that game "softball". We don't need special batting helmets because the ball is thrown slowly and anyone can catch it when we hit it. In our lives, then, when someone is very serious and is trying very hard, we say he is "playing hardball". It's not the usual softball we use with our family and friends. A person who is "playing hardball" will do anything to win, and if we are in business against him or her, we need to be ready to play hardball too.

Sometimes, though, we can't play baseball at all. Sometimes it rains! When it rains, though, the spectators can get a "rain check", so that they can go watch another game at a later date. This is true in our lives as well. For example, if someone invites you out to lunch but you are busy, you can say "I'll have to take a rain check", which means you hope to have lunch with that person some other day.

One last interesting point about baseball is that, unlike other popular American sports, there is no clock. There is never a moment at the end of the game where time is running out and it is impossible to score enough to win the game. Because of this, one famous player used to say, "It's not over until it's over". (Actually, he probably said it more informally, "It ain't over 'til it's over".) This means you always have a chance to win, no matter the situation. This is true in life, so never give up. When things look bad, just tell your friends, "It ain't over 'til it's over"!

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