The 10 Most Overused References in Sports

Bryan Healey@Bryan_HealeyCorrespondent INovember 24, 2010

The 10 Most Overused References in Sports

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    We've all, at one time or another, been the victim of a sports cliche. Even if you've never played a sport in your life and have spent most of your youthful years attending Stamp-collecting conventions, you've probably heard most of these somewhere along the way.

    It may be too painful to remember, but I can assure you, deep down, the memory is in there, haunting you, mocking you, driving you to drink to excess and play Call of Duty.

    Here now I present to you my ultimate top 10, the most overused, useless and unnecessary sports cliches in the history of sport. Some of these may be horrifying; some may be disgusting; some may drive you to fits of hair pulling and uncontrollable shouting.

    But they must be read, for only though the power of conversation can we finally recognize our national sickness and rid ourselves of this heinous infection of language!

    Also, I get to talk about Mr. Freeze, which brings me to our first cliche...

10. He Has Ice Water in His Veins

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    The only way to actually have ice water in your veins is to be hurled into a major body of water somewhere in northern New England in November and wait until early spring.

    This is usually not an ideal situation for a professional athlete, unless maybe you're Michael Phelps anticipating the introduction of a winter swimming event.

    Other than him, however, this should probably not be something for an athlete to strive for, despite the very real humor potential in an event solely engaged in hurling famous people into lakes.

    I will suggest an alternative cliche: "he has blood that is extra concentrated with hemoglobin, iron and some chemical resembling creatine in his veins."

    It's not catchy, but clinically more accurate.

9. He Has a Rifle for an Arm

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    This is most often heard referenced in baseball and football, but it's equally overused in both. Sometimes they may substitute "rocket" for "rifle," but it makes no difference.

    For one thing, these weapons are capable of firing objects at several thousand feet per second or more, whereas even the best of the best in throwing sports can only reach a little over 100 miles per hour.

    This makes the cliche an outright and flagrant lie, something athletes usually try to only do in court or to Congress (and maybe their wives).

    More importantly, however, I can't imagine why anyone would want a rifle or rocket for an arm, as you would run the very real risk of serious genital injury every time you went to the bathroom.

8. You Can't Stop Him; You Can Only Hope To Contain Him

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    If you are at all capable of containing something, then you can clearly stop it simply by making the containment unit small enough to prevent any movement.

    It's a matter of simple physics, and believe me when I say this: you do not want to piss off a physicist; they control the sun and they are not afraid of God.

    Perhaps a more suitable analogy would be more akin to, “you can't murder him, because that is illegal and often messy; you can, however, place him in a box small enough to prevent lateral or forward movement, being sure to allow for breathing holes and post-event psychiatric treatment from severe claustrophobia.”

    A little long, perhaps, but quite informative.

7. He Really Threw a Curveball

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    This one is troubling because, in certain sports which shall remain nameless to protect the innocent, you can actually throw a curveball without any of the implied consequences of "throwing a curveball." This seems to be a gross oversight that should be corrected immediately.

    My recommendation is to require people that want to cause a little confusion to throw something far more deviating and frustrating, such as an unmarked or incorrectly numbered exit that is followed by 27 miles of uninterrupted highway with a nearly empty tank of gas and an expired AAA card.

6. He Gave 110 Percent

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    It is physically impossible for anyone to give 110 percent, even if they try really hard and struggle and strain until their neck looks like a child drew on them with a permanent blue marker.

    If you are ever giving 110 percent, then by definition someone who is giving 100 percent isn't giving it all that they can, and is therefore not giving 100 percent, which means that the person giving 110 percent must be under the requisite 110 percent to compensate for the comparative ratio loss, and the cycle continues endlessly until both are doing nothing, or negative, and everyone is dead or dying.

    Why don't we all try and avoid destroying the universe by creating such unsolvable paradoxes by sticking with the mathematically correct 0-100 percent sliding scale and being happy with that. People can be so greedy sometimes.

5. Get Your Head in the Game

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    Depending on which sport is being played, this could potentially be very dangerous, even fatal.

    I certainly wouldn't want to get my head in the game if I was up to the plate in a professional baseball game, especially against the Giants and Tim Lincecum; that pitch could very well be coming in very fast and is sure to cause a massive headache that even Excedrin Migraine couldn't cure should my head be correctly placed "in the game."

    And I won't even mention the implication this has on golfers; the visual is too gruesome.

    Perhaps we can ask players to get their head near the game, which I think would have nearly the same intended benefit without the risk of brain death and familial litigation.

4. It's Not Whether You Win or Lose, but How You Play the Game

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    This one is just stupid. This may be something that is good to tell infants and toddlers while you are teaching them how to correctly play a game and to instruct them not bite the opposing pitcher in the cheek after every third pitch, but when real athletes are playing real games it certainly matters whether they win or lose.

    In fact, it matters so much that no one even cares how the game is played in the quest of that win.

    You could be deliberately and maliciously playing incorrectly, such as pitching from first base, screaming racial epithets and wearing your hat around your waist by a ten pound solid gold chain, and if you win, everyone just says "that's okay; it doesn't have to be pretty."

3. It Doesn't Have to Be Pretty

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    Of course it doesn't have to be pretty; it almost never is and it would be foolish to think it should be. I have heard of very few things in sport, other than JD Drew's swing, referred to as “pretty.”

    Take, for example, football: there is nothing pretty about two 300-plus pound men crashing into each other at the absolute top velocity that they can muster with the ultimate goal of inflicting the maximum possible damage on the other player and/or quarterback.

    It is certainly fun, and a joy to watch (especially if they succeed), but it is definitely not pretty. The only remotely pretty things in sport today are Tom Brady and David Beckham, both of which have the abs and chins of a Greek god...

2. There Is No I In Team

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    Do professional athletes really have such a difficult time with spelling and grammar that they have to be reminded, almost daily, that there is no letter "I" in the spelling of the word "team"?

    It seems a simple education could take care of this cliche in an afternoon, but we all know that the average professional athlete has not had to learn anything more complicated than left-vs.-right since roughly age six.

    Conversely, however, the discovery that there is a “me” hidden in the word team when you jumble the letters around a little has to be regarded as the most important and magnificent observation in the history of the English language and should be heralded as the bringing of a golden age to the world of sport.

1. It's David Vs. Goliath

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    I would like to take this opportunity to remind everyone that, according to the story, David, a young boy destined to be king, brutally murdered Goliath, an enemy soldier, with a stone to the forehead and then decapitated him with his own sword before showcasing the lifeless, bloody head to the opposing army, surely causing a number of unintended bathroom events.

    I will consider allowing this cliche to continue, however, if something similar transpires the next time this phrase is used, especially if during a Red Sox / Yankee game.

    It must include both Derek Jeter and Jason Varitek, even if both are long-since retired at the time, and a bat whittled into the vague shape of a sword should be provided. I'll bring the popcorn.

Honorable Mentions

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    He got his clock cleaned

    If someone actually cleaned my clock, I would thank, and possibly tip, them, not be unpleasantly lying on the ground bleeding from several important appendages.

    My clock gets very dirty, since I never know how to properly clean it. Perhaps we can think of something else to "clean" when someone is damaged, such as the basement.


    It's in the bag

    Odd that this cliche can be used to reference both a game that is almost assuredly won by a specific team and a person so fitfully drunk that they can't tell the difference between a floor lamp and their uncle.

    I think we should put games that have assured outcomes somewhere more fitting, such as in a Ferrari.


    He got mugged!

    The next time I hear this, I better see a bloody nose and someone running away with a wallet in hand and a security guard in tow. It is generally a bad idea to accuse someone of a crime when all they did was aggressively block the path to the basket.

    A more suitable replacement would be, "he was disallowed from doing that which he had hoped to do by a player that may have been employing less than reputable tactics."


    Throw in the towel

    This sounds more like the marching orders of an angry wife after a shower, rather than something you might attribute to a team that is losing so badly that they decide to bring in the bat girl to pitch the final three innings.

    Perhaps we can throw something else in, such as a meatball sandwich.


    He's on fire

    I am going to feel bad for the first player that is actually on fire and no one pays any attention to his plight because they are too busy rolling their eyes at this wildly overused phrase.

    We should say that someone is covered in BBQ sauce when they are doing well; it sounds more delicious and no one will care if he actually is covered in sauce.