Monday, October 22, 2018 Elyria 34°
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Jim Ingraham

Commentary: A real victory? Getting rid of these tired, nonsensical sports phrases

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Let’s start with this: Any coach whose team is 0-16 and 1-31 should be forever prohibited from using the phrase “I get it.”

Some other phrases, clichés, or gibberish I’m tired of hearing in the world of sports:

‘The rubber match’

This one gets misused constantly. It should be “the rubber game,” not the rubber match. Got that?

It’s derived, I presume, from tennis scoring, where the correct usage has always been: “The rubber game of the match.” It’s not “The rubber match of the game.”

So the next time you get the urge to say, or write, “The rubber match,” don’t. Because you’re wrong. That’s backward. It’s “The rubber game.” Come on, people, we’re better than this.

‘Early and often’

As opposed to what? Late and rarely?

My problem with this one is that many feel that you can’t say “early” without automatically adding “and often.” But in fact, the two are mutually exclusive. Just because something happens early, that doesn’t necessarily mean it’s also happening often.

Example: “The Cavs played good defense early and often.”

“Early”? I’ll buy that. “Often”? No chance.

‘I’m only going to worry about the things I can control’

Why would you do that? Wouldn’t it make more sense to worry about the things you can’t control? I mean, if you can control something, why worry about it? You’ve already got it under control.

Example: I can control whether or not I go for a walk. But if I do go for a walk, I can’t control whether or not a piece of space junk falls out of the sky and hits me on the head. Isn’t THAT what I should worry about?

Also, why turn this into an either-or situation? If worrying makes you feel good, why not worry about everything? Worry about the things you can AND can’t control. Go ahead, knock yourself out. Because nothing is worse than having something happen to you that you weren’t worrying about.

‘You know’

Never mind salary caps. What professional sports needs most is a “You know” cap.

I would place the “You know” cap at three. Whenever a player or coach is being interviewed, his first three “you knows” are on the house. But when he says it for the fourth time: BANG! End of interview.

You could even have an on-screen counter, and a “ding” sound for each of the first three “You knows.” When the person hits No. 4: adios.

I don’t know how the “You know” epidemic started. I do, you know, know that it’s now out of control. It seems to occur when the interview subject doesn’t know what to say next. So he says “you know” to give himself a two-syllable break to try to think of something else to say.

Maybe the best way to end this pandemic is every time the interviewee says, “You know,” the interviewer should immediately say, “No, I don’t know. Please explain.”

‘The previous play is under review’

Translation: “Feel free to go get something to eat. This is going to take awhile.”

“Launch angle”

I try to embrace baseball analytics. I really do. But in explaining the majesty of the most majestic single act in sports do we really need to borrow cold, clinical terminology from NASA?

Because it’s almost impossible to hit a groundball over the fence for a home run, the importance of hitting the ball in the air is obvious. Thus, when Bobby Thomson took Ralph Branca deep with his shot heard round the world, Giants broadcaster Russ Hodges did not shout: “There’s a long drive! … it’s gonna be, I believe! … WHAT A LAUNCH ANGLE! … The Giants win the pennant! The Giants win the pennant! The Giants win the pennant!”

“A right-shoulder shot”

This is a new annoying, nonsensical phrase some basketball announcers are using. Instead of simply identifying a shot as either right-handed or left-handed, they complicate it by calling it a right-shoulder or left-shoulder shot, meaning that’s the shoulder the player shot over.

This is an example of world-class sports gibberish.

A right-shoulder shot is shot with the left hand. So call it that: a left-handed shot. Leave the shoulder out of it. Same thing on the other side. Talk about needless verbal clutter. Who comes up with this stuff?

“Taking what the defense gives us”

This looks good on paper, but what if the defense gives you nothing?

You never hear the New England Patriots say they are going to take what the defense gives them. The Patriots take whatever they want, and then they take a little more.

“Taking what the defense gives us” is another way of saying, “If they don’t give us anything, we’re in trouble.”

Of course, it’s also a good way to avoid accountability: “Hey, don’t blame us for losing. Blame their defense. They wouldn’t give us anything.”

Contact Jim Ingraham at 329-7135 or jingraham4@gmail.com. Follow him @Jim_Ingraham on Twitter.



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