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The Inescapable Metaphor of Baseball
Of the many metaphors that have found their way into the lexicon of organizational life, perhaps none is more pervasive than baseball.
The idioms of baseball have traveled the globe and seeped into conversations between people who know little or nothing of the game. Fully integrated into our thinking and speaking, baseball metaphors help to galvanize many of the meanings central to our everyday experience.
We refer to a great project success as hitting out of the park, performers with a reputation for results as big hitters, less benevolent strategies as playing hardball, an unexpected response or reaction as a curveball, and confidential knowledge as inside baseball.
When someone offers a viewpoint unconnected to the conversation, we say it comes out of left field, when they wildly succeed at a task they knock the cover off the ball, when a team member is reluctant to engage, we ask them to step up to the plate, when they perform on a bigger stage, we welcome them to the major leagues.
Cover Your Bases, Down to the Last Out, Swing for the Fences, Extra Innings, Hit or Miss, Bottom of the Ninth Inning, A Little Off Base, Right Off the Bat, Playing Smart Ball, Go Down Swinging, Swing and a Miss, Touch All the Bases, In My Wheelhouse, A Whole New Ballgame.
The idioms of baseball are everywhere.
Baseball metaphors are stitched into the seams of everyday life. They shape our meanings in ways that are not always easy to see. Like all metaphors, they exert a powerful influence on how we make sense of our experience.
Say it ain’t so, Joe.