Hear that? Part buzz, part blast. Cheers mixed with chants mixed with hopeful conversations about how this is the year.

It’s baseball. It’s back and it’s beautiful.

As there are every April, there are numerous narratives: can the Cubs create a dynasty? Can Cleveland climb the mountain? What can the Red Sox do post-Papi? Will there be bump in baseball’s popularity and excitement-level coming of a USA win in the WBC? We have 162 to see, and it all starts today.

Major League Baseball has rolled out the Caps On/Ponte la gorra campaign for Opening Day using hashtags #CapsOn and #PonteLaGorra. It many respects, this campaign echoes the #PonleAcento push from last season. MLB, ESPN Beisbol and other media outlets have pushed it out. I personally love the Lester image: he’s a champ, he wears his hat like a boss, he plays in a major, multilingual market. The timing and the tone of the campaign seem right. 

So it’s on–the cap and the season. I draw special attention to the #CapsOn and #PonteLaGorra for two reasons. First, I approach it as a lifelong fan of baseball as a sport and a spiritual journey. This side of me is ready. Second, I approach this marketing strategy as a Spanish teacher, one who wants to leverage the language and las Grandes Ligas together to explore language, history, identity and more. This is why I got so excited about the #PonleAcento campaign. Languages matter, baseball matters, and if you study both enough, they will reveal truths about each other that no other sport and no other context can.

Let’s look at three Spanish language lessons specifically. First, the formation of the informal () command forms; second, the use of affirmative commands, informal and formal, with reflexive pronouns; third, the use of affirmative commands, reflexives and object pronouns.

Languages matter, baseball matters, and if you study both enough, they will reveal truths about each other that no other sport and no other context can.

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Command forms are easy: use the third person singular form of the verb. For regular verbs it looks like this.

Mirar –> mira. Esperar –> espera. Correr –> corre. 

Stem change verbs present the spelling change in the command form.

Pensar –> piensa. Jugar –> juega. Contar –> cuenta.

As always, there are irregulars. In this case it’s “Eight Men Out”: pon, ten, ven, sal, haz, di, ve, sé.

Commands are that easy. With reflexive verbs, there is a wrinkle: the pronoun “te.” In the case of affirmative commands, the “te” gets tacked onto the end of the command form. The one “catch”: we often have to include a written accent on the third-to-last syllable to maintain the original stress of the form.

Levantarse –> Levántate. Quitarse –> quítate. Esperarse –> espérate. 

In our case, the “Eight Men Out” do not have written accents, since they are single syllable words.

Poner –> ponte. Ir –> vete.

Now for the part that “throws” everybody off: the use of these verb forms with direct objects. The “curveball” here is interference from English, where we rely more on the possessive adjective than the reflexive verb or the inflected verb form.

Put your hat on. Wash your face. Tie your shoes.

Too often, student want to include the reflexive pronoun and the possessive adjective.

[Incorrect] Ponte tu gorra. Lávate tus manos. Quítate tus zapatos.

They need to see that the possessive here is redundant, hence the definite article: el, la, los, las.

[Correct] Ponte la gorra. Lávate las manos. Quítate los zapatos.

It should be noted that, with so much emotion around Opening Day, most verbs that express emotion are reflexive in Spanish: animarse, divertirse, calmarse. This means their command forms look like this: anímate, diviértete, cálmate.

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So here we are. There were three games yesterday, including a Cubs-Cardinals rivalry game in prime time that ended with a walk-off. The D-Backs had a walk-off win over the Giants too. Sit back. Buckle up. Caps on. Have fun.  Siéntate. Abróchate el cinturón. Ponte la gorra. Diviértete.

 

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