In the 1987 baseball movie “Bull Durham”, grizzled veteran Crash Davis schools young phenom Nuke LaLoosh on how to use clichés during interviews with sportswriters. Eventually, Nuke figures it out and after getting called up to the major leagues, he says,
“Y’now, I’m just happy to be here and hope to help the ballclub.
I just want to give it my best shot and good Lord willing, things’ll work out.
Gotta play ’em one day at a time, Y’now”
The fact that this writer snuck “grizzled veteran” & “young phenom” into the first paragraph tells you how clichés permeate our favorite sport. If you think Crash’s advice 30+ years ago has been forgotten, this 2015 quote is from A’s rookie Mark Canha after he went 3-for-5 with 4 RBI’S in his first major league game…
“”I’m just trying to help the ball club and give it my best shot. Good Lord willing…things will work out.”
The following day, Canha admitted to mlb.com…
“I mean, I’ve been waiting to pull that one out. I just think there’s some good advice in that movie, so I went ahead and took old Crash’s advice.”
Last week, the Washington Post published a study of nearly 7,000 interviews over the past 20 years and compiled a comprehensive list. Included are “we gotta play ’em one day at a time” (485 times), “to be honest with you” (638 times) and “tip your cap” (over 300 times).
An informal survey sent to a few dozens baseball buddies asked for their most (or least) favorite cliché. Here are some of the responses…
> I hate Harrelson’s obnoxious “grab some bench”
> The worst is “this team never quits”
> “It ain’t over ’til it’s over”
> “He’s seeing the ball well” – he better be
> “Rub some dirt on it”
> Least favorite is when the Cardinals make an error and Hrabosky says, “No one feels worse than (player name) right now”
> “In between hop” – aren’t all ground balls fielded in between hops?
> Favorite is “Cement Mixer”, describing a slider that doesn’t have enough action to avoid being crushed.
> “They’re down to their final strike” – I know it’s coming too
> “It’s a beautiful day for baseball”
> “A breath of fresh air” – If I wanted a breath of fresh air, I won’t live in most of the cities hosting MLB teams. (From my friend in Canada)
> “He’s a professional hitter”
> “Around the horn”
> Favorite is “Just a bit outside”…least favorite is “Good pitching stops good hitting”
> “Going, going, gone”
> Favorite is “You can’t hit the ball with the bat on your shoulder”…Least favorite is “Yankees Win! Theeeeee Yankees Win”
> Favorite is “Ducks on the pond”…least favorite is “There’s no tomorrow…backs against the wall”
Of course, we could also have a discussion on the difference between “Texas Leaguer”, “Can of Corn”, “Dying Quail” & “Soft Fly Ball”. Visually, aren’t they essentially the same thing? Except two are hits and two are outs.
Fantasy Baseball players probably have their own good and bad clichés. We certainly hate to hear that the Manager has decided to “give his Closer some work”. Or, that a Pitcher needs to “take one for the team” and gets left in a one-sided game.
The uniqueness of baseball jargon also creeps into clichés…
> “He uncorked a wild pitch” – Unless you’re a sommelier, have you ever used the word “uncorked” in normal conversion.
> “He’s got 35 homers on the year” – What kind of grammar is that?
> “He’s been relegated to the bullpen” – Have you ever been “relegated” anywhere?
> “There’s the insurance run” – A cushion yes, insurance no.
> “The tying run is 90 feet away” – You mean on 3rd base?
> “He squared that one up” – Round bat & round ball equals a square?
Or, how about clichés about the same subject (home runs)…
> “Kiss that one goodbye…it’s outta here”
> “He sent that one into orbit”
> “He crushed it”
> “Touch ’em all”
> “He tattooed that one”
> It’s a Grand Salami”
> “He got all of that one”
> “He hit a rocket”
Or, when your team is in trouble…
> “He’s trying to pitch out of a jam”
> “They got to him early and often”
> “He’s getting shelled”
> “He’s been roughed up in his last few outings”
> “He hasn’t been getting any run support”
> “He’s in a slump and he’s pressing”
> “You can’t steal first base”
> “He was caught napping”
> “They have to manufacture some runs”
> “He chased a bad pitch”
> “This one could be trouble”
As for me, I’m going to cook up a “Baltimore Chop”, put a little “Chin Music” on the stereo and remember that life is “A Marathon, Not A Sprint” In other words, “Stick A Fork In Me, I’m Done”