We all know them. We all use them. As much as I disdain as I have for several of the following cliches, I know that I have used them from time to time. They are so ingrained in our sports lexicon, that it is next to impossible not to repeat these overused and at times meaningless phrases.
From here on out, I will do my best to avoid using any of these cliches in my work here on TFDS and Examiner. It would be really nice if the guys on ESPN wold follow suit and these sayings could finally go by the wayside, and the level of sports discourse would increase.
So here is the list of sports cliches that must die:
“First Ballot Hall of Famer“
The phrase “first ballot hall of famer” once upon a time was a way to indicate that a player was a lock to be in the hall of fame of their respective sport. Now, you get some of the sports talking heads with simple minds arguing that a player should not be elected on their first ballot, as if that makes it a much higher honor. The key is whether or not they get in, not which ballot it is on.
To make matters worse, there is the addition of “sure fire” to create the uber-annoying and repetitively redundant “sure fire first ballot hall of famer.” I guess that means that the player in question is really really really a lock to go to the Hall of Fame. However, it doesn’t always work out that way. Both Pete Rose and Mark McGwire were considered to be “Absolute sure fire first ballot hall of famers” but circumstances have come along and ensured that neither of them will likely be let into Cooperstown without first buying a ticket.
Somewhere along the line, game winning RBI made too much sense, so someone thought they could get clever and start calling them “walk offs.” It started with “walk off home-run,” which makes sense in that the other team walks off, however the person hitting the home-run still has to encircle the bases to make it count. However, it got taken well beyond its logical extreme when ESPN’s bottom line had a reference to a “walk off walk.”
Most teams honor players by retiring their numbers. (The Oakland Raiders are one of the few exceptions.) However, there is a recent trend where teams sign a super star that had that number with a different team and the team would temporarily un-retire the number for the new player. This is usually accompanied by said player contacting the retiree who he intends to dishonor and getting permission.
“His natural position“
There is nothing natural about playing the game of football. Human bodies were not meant for the high speed collisions that take place on the field. That being said, there is no such thing as a player having a natural position. They may have a preferred position, or a position of strength, but it is in no way natural.
“The next (Insert mega-star’s name here)“
How many times is ESPN going to crown someone the next Michael Jordan? There have been numerous players who have had that unfortunate tag affixed to their name for a season or two, before being replaced by some new promising rookie. Kobe Bryant and LeBron James are both top notch basketball stars, but they will never have the all-around impact on the game that Jordan had. Jordan’s skill and popularity took the NBA to a whole new level. His records may be broken, but his impact on the game will never change. It is the same thing for Wayne Gretzky in the NHL, Babe Ruth in baseball, and Jim Brown in the NFL.
Attaching the tag of the next (whomever) to the young player only serves to make it harder for them to create their own legacy in the game. Leave the ghosts of the great ones past lie, and allow the new generation to carve their own names into the game.