hard•ballPronunciation: (härd'bôl"), [key]
baseball, as distinguished from softball.
2. play hardball,
to act or work aggressively, competitively, or ruthlessly, as in business or politics.
tough or ruthless: He wasn't ready for the hardball politics of Washington.
outspoken, challenging, or difficult: Reporters asked the president some hardball questions.
Random House Unabridged Dictionary, Copyright © 1997, by Random House, Inc., on Infoplease.