The Trite Trophy 2009

Today, I feel like Luke Skywalker. I feel as if I have achieved a level of understanding regarding a cosmological concept through study at the foot of The Master. I can now contemplate further growth in my mystical insights in the hope that someday I might become like The Master. Let me explain…

As I have reported in previous years, Gene Collier of the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette does a year-end column wherein he awards the Trite Trophy for the year. The Trite Trophy is given to that word or phrase that it horribly overused and horribly under informative in the language during the previous year. The criteria are that it has to be over-used, generally meaningless and most annoying.

The column awarding the Trite Trophy for 2009 appeared in the Post-Gazette yesterday. It was the 26th annual presentation of the award and the column was excellent as usual. I commend it to your reading.

So, why do I feel like Luke Skywalker? Well, I have been keeping my own small list of overused and annoying phrases from broadcasts and telecasts for the past several months; and just after Thanksgiving, I sent an e-mail to Gene Collier timidly nominating three such phrases for inclusion in the awards column this year. I acknowledge that The Trite Trophy presentation is based on a vote of a committee of one person – - Professor Collier – - but I hoped that he might look upon my suggestions and agree that they would be worthy of a mention in the column. As it turns out, two of my suggestions got an honorable mention for the Trite Trophy 2009 and one of my suggestions was The Winner Of The Trite Trophy for 2009. I feel I have begun to learn from The Master…

I will not contain my enthusiasm any longer; my suggestion for a phrase that is overused to the point of annoyance, which won the Trite Trophy 2009, is dialing up a blitz. Given the number of coaches who do this, I have to hope that they are all part of that national cell phone program that allows for unlimited free calls or the costs to the teams might sink the NFL. Oh, and by the way, just whom do they call to create that blitz; are they all pocket-dialing Flava Flav?

One of my other nominees – - an honorable mention recipient from Professor Collier – - was upon further review. When the NFL referee returns to the field after spending a seeming eternity evaluating a challenged call on the field, he often begins his pronouncement of the final edict with upon further review… Excuse me, but that was the first time the play was reviewed so how can it be “further” review?

My third nominee – - another honorable mention – - was dribble drive. In a basketball game, is there really any other kind? Not counting the NBA allowance for star players to do anything they want on the court without ever needing to dribble a basketball…

Those three phrases were my top picks for the year but I had lesser ones on my list; and since this is the time of year for the Trite Trophy, let me put them out there for your perusal with the full understanding that the official list is the one published in the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette and these are a poor imitation of that list.

Too often, we hear that a quarterback makes good decisions. What the Hell does that mean? Am I supposed to believe that he thought about it and decided on a given day that it would be a bad thing to throw 7 INTs in a game and that insight let to a “good decision”? Or maybe that it would be a good idea to complete 5 TD passes that day? How stupid are those QBs that they think this is a matter for decision making?

At this time of the season in the NFL, far too many announcers will tell us that for some teams there is no tomorrow. Really? Is the team going to disband at midnight? I can’t recall the last time that happened in the NFL…

Coming up very soon, there will be selections for the annual Pro Bowl followed by intense – - albeit meaningless – - debate on which players received a Pro Bowl snub. Allow me to shine a bit of light onto the concept of a “Pro Bowl snub”; most players have exactly no interest in playing in the game in the first place. Many players develop a nagging injury as soon as they are selected for the teams necessitating someone who received fewer votes for the “honor” to take their place. That even happened when the game was in Hawaii where the players in the game got themselves a freebie trip to Hawaii in February – - not all that bad a deal. The players want to play in this game even less than people want to watch this game. Therefore, it is not possible for a player to be “snubbed” here. In fact, the players are snubbing the Pro Bowl game…

A hugely overused phrase in baseball is that a player got good wood on the ball. Whenever a player hits a ball, that is a fact because bats are not made from worm-infested wood. Players never put bad wood on the ball. [Aside: One might say that Tiger Woods has gotten himself into some family difficulties because of his own bad wood, but that is a different concept entirely…]

Coaches, GMs and players also contribute mightily to the list of trite phrases that assault our earpans every day. Consider these few:

    We decided to go in a different direction. The translation for that is, “We told that doofus not to let the door hit him in the ass on his way out.”

    This team will not accept losing. So, that means that they are going to challenge the league standings that say they have lost some games, right?

    I have to look at the film before I can comment on that play. Why? Weren’t you paying attention when it happened on the field right there in front of you?

    We will let the legal process play out before we decide what to do with a player involved in miscreant behaviors. Translation: Maybe someone else will make this decision for us…

    You can’t measure heart. My cardiologist would beg to differ with you, Coach.

    Joe Flabeetz needs to stay within himself. Does he actually have a choice in this matter? Would he make a bad decision if he tried to play in the midst of an out of body experience?

    Two phrases that usually do not come out together demonstrate even more clearly how meaningless they are when juxtaposed. We had good success today followed by ya know what I’m saying? Of course I know what you are saying, Dumbass; there is no other kind of success. By analogy the team you beat on the day you had good success must have had a sequence of bad failures – - are there other kinds?

    Joe Flabeetz just made a great basketball play. Slow down there hoss; let me catch up with you. I am sitting here watching a basketball game on TV and you just told me that this guy made a great basketball play. What else might it have been? I just can’t imagine that anyone involved in a basketball game would take a moment to make a good decision on materials from which to make a quilt.

    Joe Flabeetz can score the basketball. That is most surprising. I did not realize that the referees would allow him to bring an Exacto knife onto the court while play was in progress…

As 2009 draws to a close, I feel as if have achieved a new level of enlightenment with regard to meaningless phraseology with regard to sports broadcasting. I shall continue to focus on the matter and seek more intense union with the trite and the banal in that part of the cosmos in the future. Nevertheless, I bow in the direction of The Master when it comes to the selection of the Annual Trite Trophy.


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

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  • Ed  On December 28, 2009 at 3:32 pm

    “QB makes good decisions” = “he is not Mark Sanchez”

  • Rich  On December 29, 2009 at 12:21 am

    The cliche that gets under my skin is ‘true freshman’. What the hell is a true freshman? Is he under age 25? Has he fathered less than three children? Does he only have one arm tattooed?

  • The Sports Curmudgeon  On December 29, 2009 at 8:58 am


    If you are to believe Pete Carroll, his first “bad decision” was not to return to USC for this season…


    Agree that “true freshman” should have made my list but I missed it. And once it is on the list, then I would have to add “fifth-year senior” just for the sake of symmetry…

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