The baseball season is underway and there is always something magical about those first couple of weeks. Every team has a chance; anything can happen; and nothing is for certain. Except for one thing. As sure as there will be dollar dog days at the ballpark, there will be the return of yet another great tradition: the dreaded baseball cliche.
So to help prepare for the onslaught of frothy phrases and plentiful platitudes, “I gave it my all,” “I worked 110 percent,” to put together this top 10 list of baseball cliches. (So it really ended up being 15 with 2 honorable mentions but who’s counting?)
It’s a beautiful day for baseball.
OK, there are days when this one is probably true but can’t we come up with another way to start a baseball game? After 162 games, it can get a bit old.
You can’t hit the ball if you don’t swing the bat.
Hmmm, you don’t say.
My Top 15
15. A walk is as good as a hit.
I’ll admit, I used this one as recently as yesterday when my team had the bases loaded. I mean it is true, isn’t it?
14. Although he’s 0-3, he has had four quality starts.
This one, referring to starting pitchers’ performances, is relatively new but has become quite popular in recent years. Quality start? Give me a break. Since when does that make a difference in the win column?
13. He hit that ball squarely.
It’s a round bat and a round ball–need I say more?
12. You can’t steal first.
This one, used when a team is having trouble getting runners on base, does what most sports cliches do: states the obvious.
11. There’s still a lot of baseball left to be played.
It ain’t over ’till it’s over.
It’s not over ’till the fat lady sings.
All used when the home team is waaaay behind in a lopsided game to try to keep fans from tuning out. The second one is usually attributed to oft-quoted Yankees catcher and baseball manager Yogi Berra. As for the “fat lady,” it is thought to derive from an opera by Richard Wagner where a long aria sung by buxom soprano right comes right before the opera ends.
10. Pitching and defense wins championships.
Last time I checked a team needs runners to cross the plate to win and pitchers and defense can’t do anything about that! (Just ask the 2011 Philadelphia Phillies.)
9. They can’t buy a base hit.
Nope. Another descriptive cliche that needs some alternatives. How about this one: “Hits are as scarce today as democrats at a Rick Santorum rally?”
8. The ball was just flying out of the park today in batting practice.
Yeah and that’s why they call it batting practice!
7. He’s a finesse pitcher. He’s a crafty veteran.
These two are often used together but both pretty much mean the same thing. This guy’s old and can’t throw a fast ball over 80 mph anymore so he has to rely on his “smarts” (luck) to win. See Jamie Moyer.
6. He’s got a great work ethic. He’s the first to arrive at the ballpark and the last to leave.
While this may be laudable (if a bit exaggerated), I’m not sure how much of a work ethic it really takes to get to the park by 4 p.m. to play a game of baseball at 7 p.m.. Let’s get real.
5. He throws a filthy slider.
I actually like this one. It refers to a pitch, often thrown by closers, that looks like it will be a strike but has so much movement on it that by the time the batter has swung (and missed) it is nowhere near the plate.
4. In any other ballpark, that’s a home run.
Based on how often I hear this one, there should be a lot more home runs hit since it would seem that most long fly balls would leave every ballpark (except the one being played in at the moment).
3. He came to play today.
Well, that’s good to know. What does he do the other 161 games for his multi-million dollar contract?
2. They know how to win.
Every team knows how to win; you just have to score more runs than the other guy. It’s doing it that’s the problem!
And everyone’s favorite, actually overused in all sports:
1. We’re just taking it one game at a time.
Thanks for that shrewd piece of analysis, coach. And I thought you were going to play the next three games together.
Well, there they are and believe me, there are more than enough left for another column. But I can only write them “one cliche at a time!”
Susan Cohen-Dickler is a lifelong Phillies fan. She writes a Phillies blog, Girls Best Phriend, and published an eBook about the Phillies, The Cure: Learn to Love the Phillies Again.
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