Consider the ‘red ass’

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There are a handful of colorful expletives that are unique to baseball or, at the very least, appear overwhelmingly in a baseball context and hardly anyplace else.

One of those is “horse s**t.” Most of the world uses the bovine version of that notion, but baseball almost exclusively uses the equine. I don’t know why.

Last year we learned about “ass in the jackpot,” which is a phrase no one involved in the conversation at the time seemed to find funny or novel — it was as if that’s something people say all the time — but it made all of us laugh. Again: it’s baseball lingo that we outsiders just aren’t privy to.

Maybe the most famous one, however, is “red ass.” It’s a term that, if you’re around ballplayers or baseball writers who talk to ballplayers you hear fairly often. Today Marc Carig of The Athletic does a deep dive into “red ass” to try to explain to the non-initiated what it truly means. It’s a harder task than you might think, as it can describe a single instance of rage or anger or, more generally, the temperament of a person over time. “Jones has the red ass” vs. “Smith is a red ass” communicate related but distinct concepts, after all. Sometimes it’s complimentary. Sometimes it’s disparaging. Nuance matters, man.

Carig goes over the term’s history and interviews some of baseball’s more famous recent red asses. And talks about guys who famously had the red ass. Again: different things. But also, totally worth a click and read today.