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…