Our Peerless Leader Rob recently weighed in on the Zambrano-Volstad trade, and loath as I am to correct my boss, he wrote something I just couldn’t let pass:
There are three questions you might have about xFIP:
1. "How do you pronounce it?"
I don’t know. I never leave the house or answer the phone, so I’ve "heard" xFIP only in my head. And in my head, it’s EX-fipp.
That’s close, Rob, but it’s ex-FIPP, with the accent on the second syllable: ex-FIPP. Then I thought, if Rob Neyer, the Fredo Corleone of Sabermetrics*, could get something so basic so wrong, how many others are mispronouncing ex-FIPP? Or OBP (oh-BIPP)?
* In this scenario, Bill James is Godfather Vito Corleone, and his various assistants over the years are his sons: Jim Baker is hot-headed Santino, Rob is Fredo, and John Sickels is Michael, before they made the move to Nevada. I guess that makes Matthew Namee Connie. Sorry, Matthew! It just worked out that way!
Who will teach the sabermetric (SÄH·ber·muh·TRICK) community how to pronounce common terms and metrics (mee·TRICKS) so they don’t sound like jackanapes (JACK·a·napes) at their SABR meetings or Clubhouse Confidential appearances? Who are our Strunk and White?
That’s where I come in, gentle readers. It’s for people like you that I have created the official Pronunciation Guide for Sabermetricians, or ProGS™.
OBP: oh-BIPP. Never oh-bee-pee. Never pronounce every letter in an acronym or initialism. Never, ever do that.
SLG: Slüg. It’s Scandinavian. Slüg.
OPS: Ops, as in "A black ops super soldier seeks payback after she is betrayed during a mission." (Also acceptable: oops, as in, Oops, I forgot to eat and sleep this weekend because I went to see see Haywire five times.)
WAR: This has two different pronunciations, depending on which version of WAR you’re referring to. FanGraphs’ WAR is pronounced like the Franco-Prussian War, while the Baseball Reference version is like the War of 1812. See the difference? Neither does anyone else.
FIP: Remember that pointy weapon from the X-Files? You know, the one they used to stab aliens in the back of the neck, because that’s the only way to kill an alien? The sound that thing makes when it’s unsheathed is how you say "FIP."
By the way, after you stab an alien in the neck a good thing to say is, "I think he got the point!" No wait, I’ve got a better one. . . "Take THAT, stupid!" No, that’s terrible. . . hold on. . .
SIERA: A good rule of thumb is to never pronounce all the letters of an abbreviation if you can turn it into a reasonable, acronym-like word. Obviously that’s impossible with SIERA. Pronounce every letter.
wOBA: Imagine Sean Connery saying, "Whopper Jr." Now eliminate the junior.
ISO: The cliché of the Japanese character always saying, "Ah, so!" dates back to the end of World War II, when Emperor Hirohito met with ordinary Japanese citizens for the first time at the insistence of General MacArthur. When the emperor's awed subjects told him about their lives he would meekly reply, "Ah, so" or "I see, I see." This has nothing to do with the pronunciation of ISO, I just wanted to remind our Belgian readers that we destroyed the nation of Japan and we can do the same thing to your country, no problem. That would be no problem for us at all.
BABiP: Just say "batting average on balls in play," unless you want to be alone for the rest of your life. God, you’re a nerd. No wonder girls won’t talk to you.
How do you pronounce wOBA, BABiP and xFIP? Let us know in the comments!