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Calling Your Shots

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Jake Taylor calls his shot.
In sports, sometimes a player will say or point to where his shot will go before he makes it. The point of this is to show your skill when you put it where you called it; if you don't make the anticipated shot it usually doesn't count. This is often a rule in some sports such as billiards.

If it's not a rule of the game but you call the shot anyway, it can be just a way of showing off.

Compare Calling Your Attacks (which isn't quite the same but does cross over a lot). Not to be confused with Calling Shotgun.


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    Anime and Manga 
  • The Rugball arc of Space Adventure Cobra ends this way: Cobra has one last at-bat with bases loaded, his team down by three runs, and time running out. After narrowly avoiding a ball to the head, he points his bat over the stadium lights, leading the announcer to declare Cobra is making the "Homerun pose" and promising to hit the 5 kg (11 lb) ball out of the park. He makes good on the promise, though he'd swapped the regulation ball for a hollow replica containing data he'd been sent to acquire by the Galaxy Patrol. His contact retrieves it in the parking lot.

  • A 1993 McDonald's commercial has basketball legends Larry Bird and Michael Jordan playing a variant of H.O.R.S.E. (first one to miss loses), calling more and more ridiculous shots.
    Jordan (standing on top of the Sears Tower with Bird): Off the Expressway, over the river, off the billboard, through the window, off the wall... nothing but net.

  • Invoked, lampshaded and then subverted in Major League. Early in the film when he first gets to the Indians' stadium, Jake Taylor (Tom Berenger) steps up to the plate and calls an imaginary home run. Near the end of the movie he pulls out this Chekhov's Gun during the Big Game (see inset photo, above), emulating Babe Ruth (see Real Life, below). The opposing pitcher, annoyed by being shown up, nearly takes Taylor's head off with his first pitch. Undeterred, Taylor calls his shot again. Then he bunts.note 
    Harry Doyle: What's this? Taylor is pointing to the bleachers! He's calling his shot! Nobody's done this since Babe Ruth in the '32 World Series!
    • Willie Mays Hayes tries this in the sequel, but it's subverted in that he's not the power hitter he thinks he is, and he flies out to the warning track in center. Twice. In the first game of the season.
      Doyle: Of course, he could be pointing at the center fielder.
  • In the Babe Ruth Biopics The Babe Ruth Story (1948) and The Babe (1992) he is shown clearly calling his shot.
  • In The Hustler (1961), Paul Newman and Jackie Gleason are playing 14.1 straight pool and call their shots.
  • Subverted in The Natural: The Whammer (a Babe Ruth expy) calls his shot in an impromptu showdown with young Roy Hobbs, but goes out on strikes.
  • Kung Fu Panda 2: At the climax, Po does this to tell Shen that the next cannon shot will be coming right back at him.

  • Practical Demonkeeping features a pool example. Travis cheats at pool by having his invisible demon, Catch, move the balls where he calls them. Usually.
    Travis: "I said corner pocket!!!"
    Local pool hustler: "I heard you, stranger. Looks like you put a bit too much English on it.''
  • At a slinging competition in the book High Rhulain, all the participants must declare what their targets are before slinging at a pinata-like target (the head is worth more than the legs which is worth more than the body). The heroine declares "two eyes and a head" and hits them, a never-before seen feat.
  • Parodied by Dave Barry, according to whom Ruth pointed his bat at the stands and identified them in less than four tries.

    Live-Action TV 
  • The Twilight Zone (1959): In the episode "A Game of Pool", Fats and Jesse call their shots in a game of pool. The most impressive shot is when Jesse calls the side pocket after bouncing off three banks and making it.
  • Somewhat averted in a Quantum Leap episode where Sam leaps into a professional pool player. The game everyone plays is nine ball, and in nine ball the only ball you have to call before you sink is the 9.
  • In an episode of The Brady Bunch Mike's boss gives the Bradys a pool table and Bobby becomes a pool hustler, even having an Imagine Spot where he pulls off trick shots on TV, calling each one before he does it.

  • Some forms of street basketball, such as H.O.R.S.E., require the player to call their shot. If they fail to make the shot, the turn moves to the next player.
  • In billiards, straight pool (14.1 continuous) and ten-ball require you to call every shot. Eight-ball rules make concessions for play either way; it's up to the players or tournament/league director to decide, but the final 8-ball shot is generally always called. If the shot is made but the player either scratches (sinks the cue ball with the shot) or sinks the 8-ball into a pocket other than the one that was called, then that player automatically loses the game.
  • Darts: In Gentleman's Cricket, the players have to call the number they are aiming at prior to throwing.
  • In Curling, the Skip (the best player on the team) holds the broom where he/she wants the person delivering the stones to aim. This is called Calling the Shot.
  • In Kendo, part of your score during matches is based on KI - "spirit" or intent - expressed by a yelling out of the intended target (kiai) at the *exact* moment of the strike. It's not quite like calling your shot in billiards (8 ball, corner pocket), but if you hit the wrist instead of the head and you had intended to hit the head, the strike would not result in a point.

    Tabletop Games 
  • Magic: The Gathering:
    • You must do this per the rules of the game. The first step in casting a spell is to announce it which includes naming all its targets, costs and modes. Not announcing your spells properly is a rules violation since it is considered public information that you need to present to your opponent fully. For example:
    • Several cards reward you for doing this in specific ways, including Conundrum Sphinx, Mindblaze, and Mise, among others.
    • A famous example of a Called Shot in Magic: The Gathering is Gabriel Nassif's Cruel Ultimatum from the quarterfinals of Pro Tour Kyoto in 2009. With no cards in hand and on the brink of losing the game, he picked up the top card of his library without looking at it and arranged his lands to produce two blue, two red, and three black mana: "My Cruel Ultimatum mana." Lo and behold, he flipped the card over to reveal...Cruel Ultimatum, the one card he needed to win the game and advance to the finals.
  • There probably isn't a wargame where you can roll the attack before announcing which unit is attacking, its target, and the details of any options they may have when attacking.

    Video Games 
  • Team Fortress 2: The Scout's Home Run taunt has him imitating Babe Ruth's famous pose.
  • In Escape from Monkey Island there are a couple of darts players so talented they'll hit any mark Guybrush names, including a doorjamb on the opposite side of the room or the player. This is part of a puzzle to hit a drunk's party balloon and startle him so you can steal his pretzels.

    Web Original 
  • One of the many, many Things Mr. Welch Is No Longer Allowed to Do in an RPG:
    176. I cannot make called shots to the plectrum, anvil, stirrup, hammer or Isle of Langerhans.
    388. Pursue means chase after, not just make called shots to the knees.
    517. I cannot make called shots to their self esteem.
    563. I can't make anyone Jewish with a called shot.
    682. Can't make a called shot with a flamethrower.
    731. No matter how many called shots to the neck I make, I'm still not going to cause a cool pyrotechnics display.
    2028. Even if the rules allow it, a called shot to the eyes with a sledgehammer isn't very practical.
    2312. You can only make so many called shots to the groin until it's an alignment check.

    Western Animation 
  • The Simpsons
    • When Homer becomes the star player on the Springfield Nuclear Power Plant softball team, at one point he points to left field calling his home run. Then he hits a homer to right field. He stands there looking silly for a moment, then retroactively calls his shot to right field instead.
    • Parodied in a later episode when Crazy Cat Lady Eleanor Abernathy, who's given to cat-tossing, points over the roof to call a toss.
  • Babe Ruth is shown doing this in game three of of the 1932 World Series in a newsreel clip near the beginning of Everyone's Hero.

    Real Life 
  • Babe Ruth famously did this just before hitting a home run in the fifth inning of Game 3 of the 1932 World Series, although opinions differ on whether or not Ruth was actually pointing to center field or merely gesturing towards the hecklers on the Chicago Cubs' bench. (Cubs pitcher Charlie Root insisted that if Ruth had actually pointed to the bleachers and announced he was going to hit a homer, Root would have hit him with the next pitch.) One video of the at bat showed Ruth angrily thrusting his index finger several times to his left, at the Cubs' bench. Ruth, naturally, had no problem feeding the story he'd called the home run, though some accounts say he didn't point to centerfield, just yelled that he was hitting the pitch out.
  • In the middle of the 20th century, New York City banned all pinball machines, on the grounds that the game was a form of gambling. The ban ended only when writer Roger Sharpe testified before a committee that pinball was not a game of chance, but required skill and finesse. The convincing demonstration came when he announced that he would launch his next ball through the center lane (out of five) at the top of the playfield, then proceeded to do exactly that.
  • A basketball player will sometimes call out "Glass!" while the ball is in midflight, indicating they think it'll hit the backboard and go into the net.
  • Not a case of calling your own shot, but someone else's—Hall of Fame pitcher Greg Maddux had a history of these.
    • On four different occasions during the 1995 Atlanta Braves season, he was sitting next to fellow future Hall of Famer John Smoltz in the Atlanta dugout and warned him that someone would hit a foul ball there. Three of those warnings were followed almost immediately by a line drive into said dugout. (Which makes you wonder if anybody started getting nervous sitting next to him, really....)
    • One time while in the dugout during a game between the Braves and Los Angeles Dodgers, with a Dodger at the plate, he told his teammates, "Watch this. The first base coach may be going to the hospital." On the very next pitch, said coach was hit in the chest by a line drive.
    • Another time, Braves manager Bobby Cox visited him on the mound, with Maddux facing runners on second and third with two outs. Cox suggested an intentional walk; Maddux refused, giving him a rundown of his next three planned pitches, ending by telling Cox, "And on the last pitch I'm going to get him to pop up foul to third base." The third pitch resulted in a pop-up to third base that was caught barely inside fair territory.

Alternative Title(s): Eight Ball Corner Pocket