Monday, 16 April 2012

Jock Talk: Don Carman's List of 37 Annoying Baseball Clichés

PHILADELPHIA PHILLIES - Don Carman #396 DONRUSS 1989 MLB Baseball Trading Card
"I'd rather be lucky than good." - D.C.
Professional athletes aren't generally known for being the world's most skilled communicators. Sports interviews tend to be mind-numbing affairs along the lines "Well, uh, we've got a lot of momentum going, and we just need to keep it together as a team and go out there and score lots of goals and hopefully come out on top." There you go: 34 words (35 if you count 'uh') which said absolutely nothing. Why sportscasters even bother interviewing a lot of these guys is frankly beyond me.

It would, however, be unfair to blame the intelligence of these highly paid athletes for the vapidity of most sports interviews. A great many athletes, particularly in the football, baseball and basketball worlds, are college-educated and far from unintelligent. Even professional hockey players are today a far cry from the toothless Big Bobby Clobber stereotype of yesteryear. However, the absurd amounts of money invested in today's professional sports leagues make sports communications a very sensitive, risk-averse business. In this world nobody wants to rattle the hornet's nests. Even the mildest of taunts (as was evident in the recent LA Kings Twitter controversy) has the capacity to cause fallout.

The upshot of this hyper-sensitive communications landscape is that most athletes don't dare say anything even remotely controversial, hence the proliferation of tired sports clichés. (It doesn't help either that sports journalists tend to ask the same tired old questions.) But this hasn't prevented some of sports world's smarter and more sarcastic standouts from making jock talk work for them - and even making a mockery of such banter. And nobody did this better than former Major League pitcher Don Carman - a man who, in my opinion, deserves to be inducted into baseball's Hall of Fame for excellence in sports smart-assery.

Don Carman was a lefty who enjoyed a moderately successful career between 1983 and 1992, mostly with the Philadelphia Phillies as well as briefly with the Cincinnati Reds and the Texas Rangers. He had occasional flashes of brilliance on the mound, with four complete-game shutouts and once taking a perfect game into the ninth inning before giving up a single hit. He was also a famously smart guy who ended up becoming a sports psychologist in his post-baseball life, and was renowned for his dry sense of humour. His wit became legendary following a particularly bad outing in 1990 when he posted this list of quintessential baseball clichés on his locker in anticipation of a round of vapid sporting press interrogation.

"You saw the game. Take what you need.”

  1. I’m just glad to be here. I just want to help the club any way I can.
  2. Baseball’s a funny game.
  3. I’d rather be lucky than good.
  4. We’re going to take the season one game at a time.
  5. You’re only as good as your last game (last at-bat).
  6. This game has really changed.
  7. If we stay healthy we should be right there.
  8. It takes 24 (25) players.
  9. We need two more players to take us over the top: Babe Ruth and Lou Gehrig.
  10. We have a different hero every day.
  11. We’ll get ‘em tomorrow.
  12. This team seems ready to gel.
  13. With a couple breaks, we win that game.
  14. That All-Star voting is a joke.
  15. The catcher and I were on the same wavelength.
  16. I just went right at ‘em.
  17. I did my best, and that’s all I can do.
  18. You just can’t pitch behind.
  19. That’s the name of the game.
  20. We’ve got to have fun.
  21. I didn’t have my good stuff, but I battled ‘em.
  22. Give the guy some credit; he hit a good pitch.
  23. Hey, we were due to catch a break or two.
  24. Yes.
  25. No.
  26. That’s why they pay him _____ million dollars.
  27. Even I could have hit that pitch.
  28. I know you are, but what am I?
  29. I was getting my off-speed stuff over so they couldn’t sit on the fastball.
  30. I had my at ‘em ball going today.
  31. I had some great plays made behind me tonight.
  32. I couldn’t have done it without my teammates.
  33. You saw it … write it.
  34. I just wanted to go as hard as I could as long as I could.
  35. I’m seeing the ball real good.
  36. I hit that ball good.
  37. I don’t get paid to hit.
We miss you, Don!

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