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Posts Tagged ‘sports’

League Slams Players for Foul Language–Circa 1898

Posted by languageandgrammar on June 17, 2011

By Paul Yeager, author of Literally, the Best Language Book Ever

For those of you who believe that poorly behaving athletes is a modern problem, check out this yahoo.com blog: Late 19th century ball players sure used creative vulgarities.

The blog highlights a memo (I don’t know what it was called then!) from the league, highlighting some of the vulgarity used by baseball players around and, in some cases, directed at fans, issued in 1898. The blog shows the offending phrases blocked out, but the article includes a link if you want to see the uncensored correspondence.

I’ll put it this way: It’s a good thing that they didn’t have access to Twitter back then. Yikes.

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Trite Trophy Winner 2010: At The End of The Day

Posted by languageandgrammar on December 26, 2010

Gene Collier, a sports columnist for the Pittsburgh Post Gazette, has awarded the “Trite Trophy” to a deserving sports cliche for the past 27 years. In the column, he mocks commonly used sports phrases and mixed cliches in what has become a literary tradition of sorts in the ‘burgh.

Based on the column (Trite Trophy: A cliche for all (sporting) seasons), he’s a man after my heart. This year’s deserving winner, “at the end of the day,” appears in my book (Literally, the Best Language Book Ever). He also mentions a few others that made my book.

In this year’s column, Collier lists more cliches than I can count–ok, not more than I can count–more than I bothered to count. It looks like at least 75.

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Interview: A New Definition, Thanks to Randy Moss

Posted by languageandgrammar on November 1, 2010

By Paul Yeager, author of Literally, the Best Language Book Ever

I love it when professional athletes talk. If it’s not a humorous mixture of mangled cliches and mixed metaphors, then it’s some outlandish, self-centered statement that only a media person trying to make a name for himself is interested in hearing.

Now, one  professional athlete, Randy Moss, has decided to redefine the word interview:

If it is going to be an interview, I am going to conduct it. So, I will answer my own questions and ask myself the questions and give you the answers. So from here on out, I am not answering any more questions the rest of this season.

Interview used to mean “a meeting or conversation in which a writer or reporter asks questions of one or more persons from whom material is sought for a newspaper story, television broadcast, etc.”

Now, thanks to Randy Moss, it’s a one-man show!

Maybe Randy will also redefine the word pompous to mean “regard with the utmost esteem.” If he does, then he’ll have plenty of company from the world of professional sports.

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Even Bing Crosby Believed in Sports Jinxes

Posted by languageandgrammar on September 25, 2010

By Paul Yeager, author of Literally, the Best Language Book Ever and Weather Whys: Facts, Myths, and Oddities

One of the funny things that sports fans do is believe that they can influence the game by attending it, watching it, listening to it, or even being in the same country as the game.

If that were true, imagine the competing influences if the New York Giants were to ever play the New York Jets in the Super Bowl, with millions of fans on each side jinxing the outcome of the game. The greatest city in the world would likely crumble in the midst of the tumultuous energy of so many would-be jinxers.

Either that, or the winner of the game would actually be determined by the players on the field rather than the fans.

The silliness of the superstition of fans believing that their mere following of a game will result in a negative outcome extends beyond the average fan to the superstars of entertainment.

It turns out that Bing Crosby felt the same way, fearing that his merely being in the country would jinx the Pittsburgh Pirates in the World Series in 1960 against the New York Yankees. Crosby was a part-owner of the Pirates (who through the early 90s were one of the great franchises of all time–strange what 17 consecutive years of losing does to a team’s reputation).

As a result, Crosby hired a high-tech company to record the game, long before the modern VCR was invented, and the resulting tape of the historic 7th game (when Bill Mazeroski hit a game-winning walk-off homerun for Pittsburgh) is the only known copy of the game.

Because of Bing Crosby’s illogical and common sports paranoia, the game is not lost forever.

Read more at the New York Times.

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Thoughtful Sports Figure?

Posted by languageandgrammar on June 10, 2009

We usually give examples of poor communication in the blog, but I recently heard a quote from an unusually candid and thoughtful sports figure. Since sports personalities usually answer in nothing but cliches, I thought the exception  was worth noting.


When Pittsburgh Penguin (National Hockey League) coach Dan Bylsma was asked if his team had any doubts before a possible elimination game in the Stanley Cup Finals, he did not respond with the type of evasive and dismissive answer that we’ve grown to expect. He did not immediately say, “No. We always think we’ll win” or “No, our team always gives 110%” or even the tired, hubris-filled “If anyone on this team thinks we’re not going to win, he should just leave now” response.

Instead, he said (paraphrased since I wasn’t taking notes!), “I’m not the type of person who dismisses thoughts that come into my head. Of course, we have some doubt.” He then went on to explain that the team had a choice, either to focus on the doubt or prepare to win the game.

Positive Language

The quote was simple and, in my opinion, representative of a positive way to approach language and life–another example of words to live by. Many of us are so busy denying doubt or fear that we don’t ever get to the part about focusing on what we want.

When asked if we’re ready for a new challenge, we defensively say “I’m always confident” or “I know I won’t have any problem” or “I don’t worry about things like that” each time, always  suppressing and denying an honest emotion of doubt. The doubt will remain in your head until it’s addressed, at which time it will disappear, having done its job.

If you feel a doubt about an upcoming event (even a small amount of doubt), admit that it’s there. It’s a natural part of being  human. Then,  release the doubt and focus on what you want. You will then  approach the upcoming event with a complete focus on the task at hand instead of having your focus split between the task at hand and the doubt that has never been addressed.

By the way, Bylsma’s team, which had been one that lost as many games as it won prior to his taking over, has won 33 out of 43 games, including a regular season record of 18-3,  and is one win away from a championship.


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Baseball’s What Not to Say

Posted by languageandgrammar on April 6, 2009

I apologize to all of the people I know who will read this and think I’m singling them out because they will most likely make some version of the statement during the next 24 hours. I’m not, and that’s part of the point of the type of statement I like to call “You Thought You Were Clever, But….” We all do it–we make that non-clever, obvious statement even though when we hear the very same statement, we roll our eyes and shake our heads.

Do  your friends, family, and co-workers a favor, and don’t make any of these comments about the local Major League Baseball team after the first game of the season:

  • The Pirates are going 162-0 this year
  • At least we know that the Pirates won’t go 0-162 this year
  • At least we know that the Pirates will win one game this year

There are probably other versions, but you get the point.

It’s not funny. It’s not original. It’s as annoying as saying “See you next year” on December 31.


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Not-So-Super Advice

Posted by languageandgrammar on February 2, 2009

Having days and days and days of Super Bowl preview shows is analogous to 24-hour-per-day news coverage. With so much time to kill, there is simply not enough good information to fill the time, and the result is quite a bit of useless coverage and senseless reporting.

Much of the coverage is intended to be quirky or funny, such as the report on the history of the tradition of dumping Gatorade on the winning coach, reports of the statistics related to stock market success following a Steeler Super Bowl victory, and predictions about which song Bruce Springsteen will sing first.

Some of the coverage, though, is intended to be serious analysis but falls flat. Ron Jaworski, a former quarterback, is one of the quarterback experts on ESPN. I enjoy his analysis of the strengths and weaknesses of quarterbacks—it’s clear that he studies the current players and understands what talents are needed to be a successful quarterback; however, I don’t understand why he (and so many other experts) feel as if all quarterbacks need to do the same things in the same way at all times.

Jaworski, on Sunday, was critical of how long Ben Roethlisberger holds on to the football—as every other “expert” has been. Ben Roethlisberger has been in the league for five years and has won the Super Bowl twice. Jaworski was in the league for 15  years and never won the Super Bowl. Perhaps Jaworski didn’t hang on to the football long enough; Roethlisberger seems to be doing pretty well playing the way he plays. Perhaps Jaworski should be taking advice from Roethlisberger.

I’m not attempting to single out Jaworski in my criticism; my point is bigger. Perhaps we should consider that there is more than one way to be successful———-and we shouldn’t spend so much time trying to fit people into predetermined molds.


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Big Off-Season Move

Posted by languageandgrammar on January 26, 2009

Winter is nearly as important to baseball as summer, when the games are played, because the foundation for the team is set during the winter off-season. With that in mind, it appears as if the Pittsburgh Pirates, the team that I’ve followed for about 40 years, are setting the stage for an outstanding year.

Oh, I know that the Pirates have been in a slump lately–their last winning season was 16 years ago–but I think that’s all about to change. While some teams continue to waste time acquiring new and better players (winter transactions), the Pirates have taken a more enlightened approach.

The New York Yankees have signed the two best pitchers available (CC Sabathia and AJ Burnett) and the best offensive player (Mark Teixeira), but it’s the Pirates who have stolen the headlines recently:  They’ve added sleeves to their uniforms (Pirates Add Sleeves to their Uniforms).

My initial reaction to the headline was  “What? The Pirate uniforms didn’t have sleeves last year?” I’ll admit that I didn’t watch many games (who would? They lost 97 of them), but I don’t recall seeing them in tank tops or sleeveless shirts.

Then, I thought about the big picture (which is hanging over a very large sofa in the Guggenheim, I believe). There’s an adage in fashion that a person should dress for the job that he or she wants. The theory is that dressing for the life you want will help you to prepare for that life, making it more likely to actually happen.

That’s what the Pirates are doing. While the Yankees waste their time signing players that will help them win baseball games, the Pirates are preparing themselves to be a good team by focusing on looking good. And what is a better way to do that than by wearing sleeves?

Better times are ahead.


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A Buck Ten Left in the Game

Posted by languageandgrammar on October 13, 2008

Oy. I don’t know if any trendy announcer-speak is more annoying than the tendency for announcers to start referring to the time left in a game in terms of money, such as There’s a buck ten left in the game. They only seem to do it when there is less than two minutes left in the game (or the first half); it’s always a buck something left (sometimes they even say a buck and change left), but with inflation, it’s likely to spread to two, three, or 10 minutes left soon.

I’ve been trying to decide why I find this so annoying, and I think it’s mainly because it’s just a ridiculous thing to say. It doesn’t make sense. I would never tell someone that I have a doctor’s appointment in five bucks rather than in five minutes because that would obviously be incredibly stupid, but once the clock ticks down to under two minutes in a football game, time and money become the same unit.

I know that they don’t literally mean money instead of time; they’re just following a trend that someone started a few years ago. And I want a name–I need to send a letter of complaint or something. It was probably Joe Time, I mean Joe Buck.


Paul’s book–Literally, the Best Language Book Ever

Sherry’s Grammar List

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Sporting Errors

Posted by languageandgrammar on September 20, 2008

If you think that the monthly review of topics that we’ve covered is a thing of the past, then you’ve got another thing coming. In fact, that’s what I’m presently writing.

While politics separates us at times, sports often unites us together as we gather in our media rooms or man caves (rooms we seem to frequent a lot) and root for all of our teams to have a perfect 16-0 record. Sports goes acrossed political divides and collegiate rivalries (I graduated college many years ago) and gives us an opportunity to make a few snacks (try to avoid violating the two-second rule), avoid the world full of actual facts and overly hyped news coverage (Hurricane Ike coverage), and watch football on a Sunday afternoon.

That’s all well and good, but by Monday, the excitement of Friday will be long passed, and we will have to concern ourselves with the ordinary things of life, such as the weather forecast for the week and trying to save money.


Paul’s book–Literally, the Best Language Book Ever;

Sherry’s Grammar List

Posted in grammar, language, monthly reviews, sports | Tagged: , , , , , , | 3 Comments »