Let’s not perpetuate stupid terms

Thursday, July 17, 2014

Now and then, I do something amazingly stupid:

I listen to, or watch, sports guys talking about sports. Some of them know what they’re talking about, some of them roll around in the muck of self-aggrandizement, and some of them use terms that may seem cool to them but really sound amazingly stupid.

My favorite, or least favorite, is “yard,” as in, “Smith went yard in the bottom of the ninth.”

Now I know what that means: It means he hit a home run. Got it. So, why not say he hit a home run or he homered or he hit it out of the park?


It MAKES NO SENSE. When you, or anyone, talks about the place in which baseball is played, do you call it THE BALLYARD? Uh, no. You call it THE BALLPARK. Everyone does.

So? Why didn’t Smith go PARK?

“In the bottom of the ninth, Smith went park to give his team a 3-2 win.”

Maybe people will think he was just stashing his car.

But from whence came yard?

There are a lot of other phrases that I think are odious, most not related to sports:

1. That’s what I’m talkin’ about.

Now it’s important to note that when one uses this phrase, it might have nothing to do with anything of significance and one MUST always drop the “g” from talking. It’s always TALKIN’, never talking. And sometimes, it’s not ABOUT, but ‘BOUT, as in “That’s what I’m talkin’ ‘bout!.”

2. Just sayin.’

Again, always drop the “g.” From what I can gather, this phrase is meant to keep the speaker from getting punched in the face, as in “You’re a moron! Just sayin’.”

Does that mitigate the insult?

3. The run-up to ...

This piece of stupidity came into favor during the RUN-UP to the Iraq War and is now used for nearly everything when speaking of something that went, or goes, before something else, as in:

• In the RUN-UP to the Super Bowl ...

• In the RUN-UP to the election ...

• In the RUN-UP to the RUN-UP ....

OK, I made up the last one BUT IT’S COMING because if you can have, say, a run-up to the Super Bowl, it stands to reason that the run-up had a beginning so it also stands to reason that there was something before that beginning.

And why not use it for everything?

• In the RUN-UP to my sister’s wedding ...

• In the RUN-UP to my shower today ...

As a society, we fall into usage patterns. More than 30 years ago, a single sportswriter somewhere used the word ARGUABLY to fudge a point of view, perhaps one he actually held but feared others didn’t.

* Ted Williams, ARGUABLY the best hitter of his generation ...

* Tom Brady, ARGUABLY the best quarterback in football ...

What it means, apparently, is that the point could be argued, but SO WHAT? The point can be argued without using arguably, unless you want the reader to know that you really aren’t sure, or that he is welcome to argue the point.

Once upon a time, especially in the New York City tabloids, sportswriters gave a definitive point of view and the hell with what the reader thought, as when Dick Young of the New York Daily News ran Tom Seaver out of town and off to Cincinnati in what is the worst trade in Mets’ history (and there is no arguing that point folks.) Young didn’t like the fact that Seaver had spoken against the Vietnam War, so he torched him until M. Donald Grant shipped him off for Pat Zachry, Doug Flynn, Steve Henderson and Dan Norman. Right. Stupid. Arguably so? Nope.

We are, as a society, intellectually lazy and that is why we fall into these usage traps. If we hear it enough, we’ll use it because, well, gee whiz, everyone else is so maybe I’d better, too. Pick up any newspaper sports section and count the use of arguably. Monkey see, monkey write.

Really, though, I don’t mind sportswriters stealing words or phrases, but stealing them from one another? That’s like Contemporary Mystery Author A stealing from Contemporary Mystery Author B.

And that, friends, is what I’m talkin’ ‘bout: arguably the run-up to the end of civilization. Just sayin’.

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