Wednesday, May 19, 2010

So Today, We Slog Through a Slog

Have you ever slogged or at the very least been in one? That’s not a misprint. I did not intend to say “blogged” or refer to a “blog,” such as what this place on the Internet is called. It wasn’t a typographical error. The “s” is second key from the left on the second row from the bottom while the “b” is fifth in from the left on the bottom row.

“Slog” is the right word. It came up twice this morning while I was doing that daily constitutional thing which includes reading cover-to-cover The News & Observer, the daily newspaper that so is well loved. Actually, for all the wrong and right reasons, I like the newspaper and am one of the few who today get my news, at least my early morning news, from the print edition of a broadsheet.

The reason I bring up “slog” is that as long as I’ve read The N&O, I do not remember seeing “slog” in print once, much less twice. But, as it turns out, a quick search of the archives accessible on the newspaper’s website,, the word shows up 109 times, 99 times in news stories and 10 times in blogs, not slogs, though there’s at least one “Slog” on the Internet. It’s a blog on the website “The Stranger” out of Seattle WA. Slog the Blog. Neat. But wait there’s more. There’s another, SLOG a second life resident blog. Read it at your own risk.

The N&O archive search offered articles dating back to April 2007 with the word used as a verb and a noun. For a complete list of the newspaper’s articles which include the word “slog” click this link: N&O Slog Articles List.

But, the word is a bit older than that. According to Merriam-Webster, “slog” dates to 1888, about 100 years before the first “blog” which is a contraction for the two words “web log.” Say it fast, drop the “we” and voila! It’s “blog.” So, trek back to 1888. That was the year Benjamin Harrison defeated incumbent Grover Cleveland for the presidency of the United States. Remember? Anyway, my story goes that a couple of late 19th century geeks in charge of sanitation collection on the streets of New York were talking about the election and the trash generated by the election celebration. One said to the other, “I need to make a few notes, a log, about what we’re doing. This is a mess.” The rest, as they say, is history and the first “Mess Log” was born and was soon shortened to “Slog” because the clean-up was persistently slow. (I made that up.)

From Merriam-Webster, the definition for “slog,” the noun: hard persistent work such as the endless enervating slog of war; a prolonged arduous task or effort such as reform will be a hard political slog; or, a hard dogged march or journey. Then from The Free Dictionary: A tiring hike or walk; long exhausting work; a heavy blow or swipe. Synonyms: work, labour, toil, industry, grind, effort, struggle, pains, sweat, painstaking, exertion, donkey-work, trudge, tramp, trek, hike, traipse, yomp, and footslog (as in a slog through heather and bracken).

In today’s newspaper, the word “slog” shows up in the lead of two stories, one on the front page and the other on the third page of the second section. The first was in an article about the Wake County School Board’s end to the diversity policy and the effort to change how students are assigned to schools. The story, Diversity policy tossed; tough decisions loom, was written by T. Keung Hui and Thomas Goldsmith. It said: With the school board's vote Tuesday night to end its diversity policy, Wake County began a politically bruising slog to divide the county into community school zones.

The second was written by Jane Stancill as reported by Rob Christensen in the “Under The Dome” column, and it concerned an up-coming appearance by US Senate Majority Leader harry Reid who wants North Carolinians to support financially his re-election effort in Nevada. That story said: U.S. Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid will be in the Triangle on Friday to raise money for his tough re-election campaign. The event could raise eyebrows from North Carolina Senate Democratic candidates, Elaine Marshall and Cal Cunningham, who are finding fundraising a hard slog for their June 22 primary runoff.

So, two “slogs” in one day in the newspaper. And a lot of research to learn more about the word including this translation from one of the sources: a hard blow such as “he gave the ball a slog.” And, that leads me to this entry at The Free Dictionary, a reference my sister, Sarah, who lives in Barbados and who is a cricket (the sport not the noisy bug) fan, would understand better than I:

Slog refers to a type of shot in many forms of cricket where the batsmen attempts to hit the ball as far as possible with the aim to hit a 6 or at the least a 4. It is an extremely dangerous shot to play since the ball is almost certainly going to be in the air for a long period of time and great technique and power is required from the batsmen to actually clear the field.

When playing a ‘Slog,’ a batsman is likely to want to score quickly therefore it is likely to be used in a Twenty20, Pro40 or One Day matchup. The slog is an extremely difficult shot to play well. Firstly there is a high possibility of missing the ball with the bat and simply getting bowled. LBWs are also common when playing the slog but if contact is made there is no guarantee that the ball will simply not loop up to a fielder. A slog is therefore likely to be played in times of desperation when runs are required extremely quickly or in variations of the game such as 'Plank Cricket' where continuous defensive shots are frowned upon and may even result in disqualification.

There are different ways to play a slog, and they can be played with different techniques. One of these techniques is called advancing down the track. Advancing down the track is where the batsman facing the balls takes 2-3 steps down the track, building more power for the shot. When a shot like this is played correctly the effect can be devastating, and can score big runs, fast. Of course it is a very dangerous technique to use, as you could hit the ball wrong on the bat and it could fly high in the air allowing fielders to move under it. Another reason why this is dangerous is because if you miss the ball but it doesn't hit the stumps, you are out of your crease, and the wicket keeper can stump you. Advancing down the track is only one of many different variations on the slog shot.

One last note about “slog”: If you’ve gotten this far in today’s post, you now know the true meaning of “slog” and all those references and definitions didn’t matter. In reality, you’ve yomped, and if you want me to explain that word, well, forget it. Not even some other time.

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