As many of you are aware, (and if you're not, where have you been?) R.A. Dickey is in the process of climbing to the summit of Mount Kilimanjaro. At 19,341 feet, it is the tallest mountain on the African continent and the tallest freestanding mountain in the world. Dickey is not doing this for fun or because there's a secret Stormtrooper reunion waiting for him at the summit. Rather, he is climbing the mountain to raise awareness for the Bombay Teen Challenge, which is an organization that rescues and treats sexually abused and exploited girls in Mumbai, India.
(Editor's note: If you would like to make a donation to support R.A. Dickey and the Bombay Teen Challenge, please click here to be taken to the donation page.)
Our fav'rit knuckleballer and wordsmith has been writing reports of his climb for the "Bats" blog in the New York Times. Earlier today, amongst the plethora of Bilbo Baggins references, Dickey used a word that would even confound J.R.R. Tolkien.
In discussing his ascent to the next camp on the mountain, Dickey cooked up this delicious piece of verbal fondue:
"Tomorrow we will have only a short hike to Shira 2 camp to continue to acclimatize. After that, the real test begins."
For many readers, including a particular former Met (more on him later), the real test would involve defining the word "acclimatize". It's not a word that's used in everyday language and it's certainly not a word that's sprinkled liberally in a baseball clubhouse. Looks like it's high time to dust off our Dickeypedia to find the definition:
- 1. to become acclimated or adapted.
- 2. to adapt (oneself), especially to environmental or climactic changes.
Clearly, Dickey was referring to the second definition of the word, as he and his climbing team are going to have to adjust to the obvious changes in air pressure and temperature as they continue to scale the mountain. But not everyone believes that's the proper definition of the word.
We asked former Met killer (and former Met) Mike Scott to use the word in a sentence. As you may recall, Scott did not do very well for the Mets during his four years in New York, making 60 starts and finishing his Mets career with a 14-27 record. (By comparison, it only took R.A. Dickey 39 starts to win his 14th game as a Met.) However, once he left New York for Houston, Scott scuffed his way to a no-hitter, a Cy Young Award and 110 more victories.
Considering Scott's uncanny ability to deceive all those who came into contact with him, we thought he would be the perfect choice to use acclimatize in a sentence. After doing a few pre-definition stretches and sharpening his fingernails for a few moments, Scott tackled the challenge head on, saying:
"In 1986, Gary Carter was adamant that I was scuffing the baseball. But I think when Carter was behind the plate, he was asking Sid Fernandez to do the same thing. Carter claimed my pitches would sink unnaturally to the left and right when I threw them. Sid Fernandez? His pitches would leave his hand and acclimatize through the strike zone. It takes one to know one, Gary!"
Mike Scott and his Rainbow Brite uniform have been out of baseball since 1989, but he still has a way to make people scratch their heads when he takes center stage. He failed miserably as a Met, had to cheat to become a success, and is now stretching the boundaries of the English language as wide as Mount Kilimanjaro is high.
If Mike Scott wanted his balls to flutter legally, perhaps he should have learned how to throw the knuckleball like R.A. Dickey has. Instead, he had to scuff his way to the top. I guess he couldn't acclimatize to failure.
You can follow R.A. Dickey on Twitter by clicking here. You can also follow Dickey's blog posts for the New York Times by clicking here. For more vocabulary assistance, please read the following Dickeypedia entries:
February 22, 2011: Dickeypedia Word of The Week: Narrative
February 25, 2011: A Double Dose of Dickeypedia (Rudiments, Vernacular)
March 10, 2011: Dickeypedia Word of The Week: Syntax
April 2, 2011: Dickeypedia Word of The Week: Asphyxiation
May 15, 2011: Dickeypedia Word of The Week: Fortitude
August 14, 2011: Dickeypedia Word of The Week: Fodder
September 3, 2011: Dickeypedia Word of The Week: Hyperbole