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I was watching Family Guy and in one episode, Peter tries to show a group of students he is serious by breaking a table with a baseball bat. However, he knocks over the rack full of baseball bats and keeps tripping and falling on them. Eventually he gives up and says

OK, we'll pick this up on Monday. Do any of you know my wife, Lois? Tell her I'm on the bats and to come get me. She'll know what it means.

Here is a clip from Youtube: Peter Struggles With Baseball Bats | Season 15 Ep. 18 | FAMILY GUY.

Although it's literally true, this seems like a strange thing to say so I was wondering if "I'm on the bats" has another meaning that I'm not aware of. I thought I knew a lot of expressions and I don't know what this is supposed to mean, so possibly I just misinterpreted the tone of voice. Is there a joke here that I missed?

  • I've never heard such an idiom. There's a lot of slang out there, it's always possible that this is slang from some sub-culture that I am not a part of. – Jay May 22 '17 at 19:45
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I have never heard of the expression in my life. I believe part of the joke is how ridiculous and specific the expression is and that his wife will somehow "know".

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    To explain it further, the joke is that Peter knocking over and repeatedly tripping on baseball bats has not only happened before, but has happened enough times that Lois doesn't even need a full explanation to know what happened. – Alexander May 22 '17 at 19:46
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    @Alexander - You could probably make that an answer, instead of a comment under an answer. I think you're onto something there. – J.R. May 22 '17 at 19:54
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Obviously, this is an excerpt from the full program.

Lois probably knows that Peter has installed the baseball bats in the classroom, since he's probably been having problems with the class.

The joke is two fold:

1) you would have to know that being on a baseball bat is not a usual thing
2) Peter always meets with misadventure

by someone telling Lois that

Peter is on the bats

even though she will not know the exact circumstances, she will think it is an odd thing to be told and then wonder

What is he up to now?

or she will realize as the viewer knows, that something has gone wrong, as it usually does.

So

on the bats

is a literal phrase, but the context is very important to understand it.

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No, it's not a common expression. In this case, "on the bats," literally means, "lying on the baseball bats".

The joke -- not particularly funny -- is that Peter is an idiot who so frequently gets into trouble that his wife is used to having to come to help him out. So when he makes a seemingly meaningless comment it's expected she would understand the context.

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