Must Read – Trite Trophy 2008

Yes, I know it is Sunday morning and I don’t usually write on Sunday mornings but there is a “must-read” column out there today. For the last 25 years, Gene Collier of the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette has given out the annual “Trite Trophy”. It honors the most meaningless and overused cliché of the year. I discovered this column about 6 or 7 years ago and look forward to it each year.

I’ll give you a hint how much I enjoy it. I keep a small list of my favorite clichés during the year and look to see if any of them made it into the official “Trite Trophy” mention. From today’s column, here are the simple and straightforward criteria for winning the “Trite Trophy”:

“The three ageless criteria are, as always, paramount. To win the Trite, a cliché has to be essentially meaningless, exhaustively overused, and I have to really really hate it.”

Only one of the entries on my list made the grade this year. “Under the bus” – or more grandly to “throw under the bus” got a mention by Professor Collier. Recognizing that he is the “Committee of One” who makes the ultimate decisions on this award, I want to offer here the eight entries on my small list of annoying clichés and jargon so that he might come to hate them sufficiently to mention them in some future iteration of this award ceremony:

    1. “Working the phones”: Excuse me, unless the person involved here is a telephone lineman, all he is doing is making and receiving calls. Big deal! My kids were able to do that when they were 6 years old.

    2. “Break down films: This is not an undertaking equivalent to – or even related to – breaking the Enigma Code in WW II.

    3. “Team’s elder statesman”: Winston Churchill was an elder statesman not some jock in a uniform.

    4. “Gives back to the community”: Really? So why is it still a slum?

    5. “Pitching a gem”: I give Professor Collier a pass on this one because he probably never hears that in Pittsburgh but please, it’s a baseball game and the pitcher is not throwing diamonds or rubies.

    6. “Uncorked a wild pitch”: Uncorking something is a voluntary act; throwing a wild pitch is not likely to be a voluntary act.

    7. “Need a win to break their losing streak”: If anyone ever asks you to provide an example of a self-evident statement, give them this one.

    8. “Set a new world record”: Please explain how anyone could set any world record that would not be a new one.

But don’t get me wrong, I love sports…

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  • JJC  On December 28, 2008 at 11:39 pm

    That was the best, pound for pound, article ever written.

    The one that always sets me off, and I don’t really know why, is when they call someones college experience a “career”. I’m not sure if I have a better word for it but it’s certainly not a career. Career implies a paycheck and the one thing I know they aren’t doing is paying the kids. Moving on …

    They could techically break a losing streak with a tie. And if you really want to see me blow a gasket, make me watch Madden and his moronic comments. I just don’t see how anyone could pay money for him anymore. How bad is it that his video game commentary offers equal insight as the live ones? How bad is it that I’m the only one it seems to have noticed?

  • Rob  On December 29, 2008 at 5:54 pm

    I think it would be possible to rename, or at least, have a nickname, the Mixologist Medal into the Brain Cramp medal. The reason being, the announcer clearly messed up. The announcer didn’t just exhibit mental laziness by going to a well-worn cliche, but he even screws the cliche up! “… with every ounce of her fiber”?! That doesn’t even make sense.

    When someone tries to use a trite expression to get out of actually having to think about what he or she is saying, they should at least get the expression right. And if they can’t even do that, it’s a brain cramp.

  • The Sports Curmudgeon  On December 30, 2008 at 11:33 am


    Agree Madden is not nearly as good today as he was about 5 years ago. He gets paid because he has celebrity status based on past work – - that and Al Michaels likes working with him.


    Think about the phrase “…with every ounce of her fiber.” Now, if you said that, might you have suffered a “Brain Crap”? Just asking…

  • Rob  On December 30, 2008 at 12:45 pm

    “Think about the phrase “…with every ounce of her fiber.” Now, if you said that, might you have suffered a “Brain Crap”? Just asking…”

    That’s a good one, SC. I guess, in that particular case, its a Brain Crap.

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