Monday, August 8, 2011

ALOTT5MA GRAMMAR RODEO NATIONAL PASTIME EDITION: Do you accept as legitimate the assertion that the past tense of the verb "fly" is always "flew" except in the context of baseball and softball?  When you read a sentence like "Ryan Braun flied out to right, allowing Hart to tag and go to third," does that sound correct, merely tolerable, or downright wrong to you?


  1. Sheila8:27 AM

    Sounds right to me, and "flew out to right" would sound bizarre, like the player himself managed to fly to the outfield. I think it's because in the baseball sense, fly is more of an adjective than a verb (modifying ball) so it doesn't make sense to treat it like a verb. I'm sure someone who actually knows grammar rules can figure this out. In the meantime, I think your poll will break down into groups of people who watch/listen to baseball and those who don't.

  2. victoria10:05 AM

    It's correct to me.

  3. D'Arcy10:22 AM

    It always sounds strange both ways to me, but I accept flied out as correct.

  4. Marsha11:27 AM

    Exactly what Sheila said - "flew out to right" is ridiculous (as Sheila notes, it would imply the batter flew, not the ball), and thus we just accept "flied out" as a different word with a different grammatical construction.

  5. ChinMusic11:56 AM

    If fly isn't the verb, then I am very happy that we have not been stuck with something like "He fly outed to right."  Though, I am trying to think if there is a present or future tense of flied out.  I don't think people say things like "He's off the juice, so he is just going to fly out to right." or "Papelbon kicks and delivers, Giambi swings and he flies out to right," but I can't come up with alternatives that sound familiar.  And if we use fly and flies for the future and present tense, it gets rid of the argument that flew out suggests the batter and not the ball traveled to the outfield.   I think the answer is simpler and just reflects an attempt to be consistent in the way a hit ball leads to an out:  ground out/grounded out, line out/lined out, pop out/popped out, fly out/flied out.

  6. isaac_spaceman1:05 PM

    (A) It's right because the verb "to fly" in baseball is not the same as the verb "to fly" elsewhere in the English language.  They share an etymology, but they are not the same word.  They are conjugated differently, they have different properties with respect to the subject, and they have different literal meanings. 

    (B) It's right because it has 100 years of custom and accepted usage behind it, giving this conjugation a better pedigree than accepted verbs like "arbitrage" or "surf." 

    (C) It's right because the people who developed the use of words in baseball were simpletons, and this is a verb conjugation that simpletons can intuit.  Rules for users!

  7. Jessica1:29 PM

    Apropos link -

  8. Anna Weber1:55 PM

    My thoughts, precisely. 

    Baseball fans, unite.

  9. Jordan3:57 PM

    The real issue here is that Hart would have been forced to tag, before being allowed to advance.

  10. Meghan7:39 PM

    I think it sounds wrong. I'm willing to go solo on that, I understand that it is apparently correct usage in that instance, and it still sounds wrong.

    Related: I can't stand football analysts saying "break contain" o defensed.