20 Cliches We Never Want To Hear a Sportscaster Say Again

Adam LazarusSenior Analyst IOctober 1, 2010

20 Cliches We Never Want To Hear a Sportscaster Say Again

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    With ESPN, the NFL Network, Versus, the Golf Channel and all the major networks spewing out tons of sports television each day literally millions of words are used each year for sports play-by-play and opinion.

    For the most part, it's pretty good. We're all either entertained or informed. But sometimes, those whom we entrust to narrate the events "drop the ball." (See that's just one of many terrible sports cliches)

    Here is a list of sports terms and cliches we hope that someone will "put a nail in the coffin" of. (See that's another one)

No. 20: “Just Having Fun”

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    Often applied to Brett Favre, sports casters are apt to pull this one out when they see a player smiling a lot out on the field. Naturally, John Madden used it often.

    Hines Ward is another frequent “guy just having fun out there.”

    As is often a theme with grossly overused sports clichés, the guy is “only having fun” when his team is winning and he is playing well. If the Vikings are down 49-0 in the fourth quarter and the camera pans over to Favre and he’s laughing it up with Jared Allen, the media will blast him for not taking the loss seriously.

    Of course winning is fun. Who gets angry when they hit a home run or drain a three-pointer?

No. 19: “And Boom Goes the Dynamite”

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    That poor college reporter, Brian Collins, is still routinely mocked for his awful telecast where he couldn’t keep up when the teleprompter broke down.

    Yes, “boom goes the dynamite” was hilarious…..until SportsCenter anchors used it 1,500 times per episode.

No. 18: “The Look of a Champion” And/or “you Can See It in His Eyes”

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    So, now sportscasters are experts in body language?

    Ok, if a player is slouched over, bawling uncontrollably, or curled up in the fetal position before the last play, then, maybe he doesn’t have the look of a champion.

    But it’s a bit much to show a glimpse of a player and declare he is destined to win the game or tournament just by his stare.

No. 17: “Walk-Off” Home Run

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    Whenever this became big, probably during the 1990s, it exploded like the plague. Now it’s an official term. Remember when it was “game winning” hit or RBI or home run? Topps actually had that stat on their baseball cards in the 1980s.

    Why did they change it to the more ambiguous “walk off?” Another failure Major League Baseball travesty that occurred on Bud Selig’s watch.

No. 16: “Not So Fast My Friend”

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    Although Lee Corso on ESPN’s College Gameday is the worst offender of this one, Kirk Herbstreit and Chris Fowler chime in with it every now and then.

    Corso was smart to corner the market on a college football catch phrase but it’s so cheesy now.

No. 15: "Go To Guy"

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    Can't we say it any better than this? As over-played as "he's our bread and butter"--which makes little sense either--at least it's somewhat nuanced.

    But instead, sportscasters usually settle for this bad cliche. It sounds like it was something grunted by a cave man: "Go to guy over there. He our go to guy."

No. 14: “Xs and Os”

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    This one comes courtesy the great former player and later Georgia Tech and Alabama Head Football Coach, Bill Curry.

    When sportscasters refer to schemes and the actual visual details of a play, they are always dubbed “Xs and Os.” As in each offensive player (basketball or football) is an “O” and the defenders are “X” when drawn up on a chalk board or dry-erase board.

    But in truth, that’s a gross oversimplification of the diagramming of plays. Still, it probably wouldn’t be so unsettling if it wasn’t used every other minute of a broadcast.

No. 13: “Fairway-Metal”

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    Like the previous entry, this one makes perfect sense, especially in the modern era. But it still feels awkward to hear Johnny Miller call a “4-wood” a “4-metal.”

    Persimmons woods went out alongside break dancing in the 1980s but that vestigial term should remain. If you say “grab me a 3-wood” to your caddy, that’s pretty clear.

    The worst part is that Miller has all of his NBC colleagues on the bandwagon. Perhaps, if a guy shoots a 63 to win the US Open at Oakmont he can call a fairway wood whatever he wants.

No. 12: A Quarterback or Pitchers or Goalies “Best Friend”

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    In team sports it’s a little strange to single out one player as another player’s “best friend.”

    For one, it’s weird to think of Tom Brady and Wes Welker hanging out in the sandbox together like their on the playground in 3rd grade. But when Brady connects with Walker on a few passes in a row, someone will say that “Walker is Brady’s best friend.”

    That’s not so bad when referring to two players, although it’s still weird. But, in baseball, the old cliché is that “a double play is a pitcher’s best friend.” How can you be friends with a putout?

No. 11: “Taste of Their Own Medicine”

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    This one is just bad because it’s used to death.

    No one would say much if Peyton Manning were to scramble for a 5 yard gain and pick up the first down. But if the run happens to come while the Colts are playing the Philadelphia Eagles and quarterback Michael Vick, somewhere, some announcer will find that wonderfully ironic.

    “They gave the Eagles a taste of their own medicine!”

No. 10: “Physical, Smash Mouth Football”

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    Teams like the Pittsburgh Steelers and Tennessee Titans are guilty-by-proxy here. In short, when a team runs the ball effectively, it’s “physical smash mouth football”

    Yes, the running game probably features more hard hits than the passing game, but on what play in football, at any level, isn’t there hard hitting? Field goals, punts, kickoffs, hail Marys, etc: on every one of those plays there are a handful of big dudes clobbering each other.

No. 9: “He just wanted it more”

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    Tiger Woods is regarded as one of the greatest competitors of all time. His desire is unquestioned and, according to many sportscasters, unmatched.

    Let’s say that next year’s Masters were to come down to one hole, between Tiger Woods and some Tour no-name. If Tiger edges out Player X by sinking a birdie putt, there’s a pretty good chance someone is going to inform us that “Tiger just wanted it more.”

    How exactly do you measure that? It’s a safe bet that the guy who lost wants it pretty badly.

No. 8: Everything Brent Musberger Says

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    Isn’t it sad that his most likable sports broadcasting moments came in Rocky II and The Waterboy? Maybe that’s because he had a script to read from.

    When he does the play-by-play for a college game today, it’s pretty hard to listen to. He either piggybacks too much off of what his partner says or tosses out lame jokes and seemingly fake enthusiasm. Sorry Brent!

No. 7: “It’s Midnight for Cinderella”

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    March Madness usually brings this one out of the sportscasters’ salvo each spring.

    Aside from it not exactly fitting the mould—doesn’t Cinderella ultimately “win” at the end of the fairy tale?—it’s probably pretty annoying to the team or player the announcer is referring to. Would YOU want to refer to Dwight Howard or Adrian Peterson as Cinderella, a cartoon woman?

    Bill Murray is partly to blame for this. When Carl Spackler narrated his tulip-hacking round in the middle of Caddyshack he repeatedly referred to himself as “a Cinderella story.” A whole generation of young,

No. 6: “You don’t think” John Elway wants to win this game!?

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    This is just mangled, non-sensical blather. Occasionally, and especially in football, a player will make a great play that epitomizes perseverance and toughness.

    A few broken tackles will usually lead an announcer to spew out “you don’t think he wants to get that first down? Look at this run!”

    Who could possibly think the player did not want to make the first down. Dan Dierdorf and formerly John Madden go this card quite often.

No. 5: “It’s a chip shot field goal”

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    A chip shot in golf isn’t necessarily easy. (Then again neither is a 25-yard field goal). Try chipping over a bunker and onto a fast, downward slopping green.  

    The announcer is trying to say that it is from a short distance so it is simpler. They could avoid all the confusion if they apply another golf term: in match play, a short putt is a “gimme” and is essentially a formality.

    That is what announcers are trying to say when they call a short field goal a “chip shot.”

No. 4: “RBI” (plural)

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    Yes, if you want to follow standard English, “Runs Batted In” is already in the plural form, thus saying a “Pujols had 5 RBI” is technically correct, instead of “Pujols had 5 RBIs.”

    But that sounds so weird! Didn’t we all grow up saying RBIs? Thanks a lot grammar police for making that stat sound awkward.

No. 3: “[Insert Sport] I.Q.”

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    Any player who makes a smart play or is renowned for knowing the intricacies of the game better than his peers is said to have a great “[insert their sport] I.Q.” Peyton Manning has a great “football I.Q.”, Derek Fisher a “great basketball I.Q.”, Derek Jeter a great “baseball I.Q.”.

    We get it, announcers, the player isn’t an idiot. We have a good “sports fan I.Q.”

No. 2: He’s a “hard worker”

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    This term is comically at both the college and pro level.

    In the NFL or NBA, calling a player “hard worker” should be offensive to the audience. In today’s era, when virtually all pro athletes are millionaires, don’t we expect them to be “hard workers?”

    It’s not like they are squeezing in batting practice in between their 8-5 shift at the insurance office. They get paid—and handsomely—to “work hard.”

    Now in college, the term takes on a different meaning. Sportscasters say a player is “a hard worker” when they don’t have something nice to say about their talent.

    When the camera scrolls to the bench at a Duke game, the player wearing his sweats without a bead of sweat on his face and sitting next to Coach K is probably a great worker. Just not good enough to crack the lineup.  Kind of an insult when you think about it.

No. 1: “Threw Him Under the Bus”

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    Taking the metaphor a bit too far. When a player or coach calls out another player or coach through the media, he or she certainly didn’t do them any favors.

    It was probably a rude or stupid or divisive thing to say. But he wasn’t exactly murdering them, the way you would if you “threw them under a bus.”

    Still, it is a metaphor, so the intention is not lost. But like all terrible clichés, this one is awful because it is used all the time. Anytime even a minor conflict arrives in sports today, one player was “thrown under the bus” by another player.

    Mike Golic and Mike Greenburg (aka Mike & Mike) deserve a lot of the blame on this one.