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21 Sports Plays with Bizarre Names

by: Esteban On  Monday, January 28, 2013

sports plays bizarre names

If you’re an avid fan of a particular sport, all the terminology and lingo sounds totally natural to you. You don’t think about how weird the name of a particular play is; that’s just what it’s called—always has been, always will be. But if you hear the names of some plays with fresh ears, you’ll realize that some of them are just downright bizarre. And today we’re taking a look at some of these bizarre names for plays across a number of sports.

Ready to start? Good, here we go…

21. Spin-O-Rama

The “spin” part isn’t really weird. It’s descriptive. But the “o-rama” part is just plain silly. Especially for such a tough, manly sport.

In any case, the great Denis Savard was the master of the spin-o-rama, as you can clearly see from this clip.

20. Rock the Cradle

The rock-the-cradle dunk is very similar to the classic windmill dunk. The innovation, here, is that instead of gripping the ball with the hand alone, the player grips it between the hand and forearm and does a full six-to-twelve motion with it.

So why is it called “Rock the Cradle?” No clue. I guess somebody thought the way you hold the basketball looks like the way you hold a baby. (And obviously that person has never held a baby.)

19. The Rabona

The Rabona kick was first performed by an Aregentine soccer player named Ricardo Infante.

In Spanish, “rabona” means to play hookie. This kick got it’s name from a headline in a Spanish soccer magazine that translates, “Infante Plays Hookie.” The headline was accompanied by a photo of Infante performing the kick, and in the photo it looked like he was skipping—as a child might do while skipping school. (Hey, it was the 1940s. They didn’t have video games back then, so when children skipped school they went skipping.)

Why would you ever use this play in a game? Well, there are almost no tactical situations in which it is truly necessary. It might be used to trick or fool a defender from time to time, but it’s mostly used just to show off—like we see Cristiano Ronaldo doing here.

18. The Datsyukian Deke

datsyukian deke gif

The puck handling wizardry of Detroit’s Pavel Datsyuk is so legendary that he’s got his own deke named after him. (If you’re not a hockey fan, a deke is when a guy fakes one way and goes another, usually on a breakaway.)

This is the first known use of the Datsyukian Deke in the NHL. It came against Marty Turco in 2003.

17. Hook and Ladder

In this classic football play, a wide receiver runs a short route in which he starts outside then hooks back toward the middle of the field to take a pass. But as he’s catching the pass, another player runs right behind him in the opposite direction, and the receiver than tosses him a lateral pass (i.e., the ladder) and he’s off to the races.

16. Flea Flicker

This play was supposedly invented by former University of Illinois coach Bob Zuppke. He says he made it up in 1910 when coaching high school football, and that he named it after the quick motion of a dog flicking away a flea. Today, it’s one of the all-time classic trick plays in American (and Canadian) football.

15. Chin Music

When a baseball pitcher intentionally throws a pitch up and in to a batter, forcing him to fall back away from the plate, they call it “a little chin music.” The idea is to mess with their heads a bit—the batter knows the next pitch will almost certainly be low and away…but what if it’s not?

The origin of this name is a little uncertain (well, minus the “chin” part), but apparently people started using it in the 1940s.

14. Nutmeg

The origin of this name is subject to debate. The prevailing opinion, it seems, is that the term is derived from unscrupulous practices in the nutmeg trade. You see, sellers would apparently place wooden replicas of nutmegs in shipments to bump the weight and price, duping the buyers. From here, to be “nutmegged” came to mean to be duped because you are gullible. And in soccer, they called this play a nutmeg (supposedly) because the defender has to be pretty gullible to allow the opponent to put the ball through his legs like that.

Of course, if you ever played soccer as a kid, you know that’s not what kids think it means. So I’m going to say the term always has something to do with the fact that you put the ball underneath a player’s nuts.

13. Cruyff Turn

cruyff turn

This name is simple: a famous Dutch soccer player named Johan Cruyff invented it, or at least made it famous by using it in the 1974 World Cup.

12. Hail Mary

The name for this football play is of obvious origin (it’s last-ditch shot in the dark—a prayer, if you will, like the Hail Mary). Given that the Hail Mary is a Catholic prayer, one would assume it was invented at a Catholic college…and it was. In the 1930s, two Notre Dame players refered to a desperation play as a Hail Mary. The term became more widely used, however, after Dallas Cowboys quarterback Roger Staubach—also a Roman Catholic—used it in 1975 to describe a pass in a playoff game again the Vikings.

11. Fumblerooski

The “fumble” part in this name makes sense, as the quarterback must fumble the football so that an offensive lineman can legally pick it up and advance it. But the “rooski” part? That’s just goofy for the sake of goofy.

Anyway, the play is now officially illegal in both the NFL and the NCAA…sort of. The rules made to outlaw the fumblerooski refer to specific actions, so coaches have found ways to get around them and use variations of the trick play. Eventually, though, the rule-books will catch up.

10. The Tweener

When Gabriela Sabatina did the between-the-legs shot, they called it the Sabatweenie, which was awesome. However, when everyone else does it, it’s just a tweener. And of course that’s funny because it sounds like wiener. (Which is kind of what the legendary Roger Federer is sometimes.)

9. Butcher Boy

The butcher boy is when a baseball player is at the plate and shows bunt before pulling back and taking a short, hacking swing. The idea is to get infielders to move in, thinking it’ll be a bunt, and then catch them off-guard with a regular swing. Of course, it’s pretty much only used by pitchers and other players who aren’t good hitters.

8. Statue of Liberty Play

Ah, the old Statue of Liberty play. If the QB does it right, his throwing arm is in the air faking a throw while his other hand (the one with the football) is at his side getting ready to hand the ball off—a pose similar to that of Lady Liberty.

7. Double Dummy

Double dummy. Hahahahahaha.

Anyway, in this rugby play, 4 or 5 players move down the field. The guy on the outside has the ball. He then cuts toward the center of the field, crossing paths with two teammates. As he passes the first, he fakes a pass. Then, as he passes the second, he fakes another pass. Finally, he actually passes to the third or fourth teammate.

When done right, this play confuses the defense and opens up a big hole down the middle.

6. Dying Quail

In baseball, a dying quail is a weak fly ball that falls into the outfield just behind the infielders and just in front of the outfielders. It’s definitely unintentional, but as Crash Davis points out here, such lucky hits can be the difference between a guy being considered a decent player and a guy being considered an All-Star.

5. The Dilscoop

Yeah, that’s right. The Dilscoop. This type of cricket stroke was developed by a Sri Lankan player named Tillakaratne Dilshan back in 2009. When a ball comes in at just the right speed and with just the right bounce, the batsman gets down on one knee and hits the ball back behind him with a scooping motion.

It’s actually pretty freaking awesome.

4. Alley-Oop

We all know the alley-oops. It’s one of the great standards in basketball. But man, what a stupid, silly name. As a grown man, I always find it difficult to say with a straight face.

3. Ankle-Breaker

Now hear’s a basketball play that sounds awesome. The “ankle-breaker” is basically a crossover or fake that’s so good that the defender trips and falls down on the ground as though he’s broken his ankles.

2. The Suicide Squeeze

You have to love a play that sounds lethal. And in this one, there is a lot of risk involved. The super lame “safety squeeze” is when a a guy on third breaks for home plate after the batter lays down a bunt. But in the badass suicide version, the guy on third breaks right after the pitch is thrown. If the guy doesn’t get the bung down the runner is dead at home.

FYI, skip to 1:35 mark to see the play.

This is one of the most fun names for a sports play. Basically, any time a basketball player performs an impressive dunk over or in the face of an imposing player, you say he just “posterized” him. The idea is that you just did something that looks like it belongs on a poster.