Sports And Linguistics Today – – Really

The first fictional character I ever identified as a young adult was Mr. Spock from the original Star Trek series. As a kid, my objects for identification were baseball players – – and mainly pitchers.  But Mr. Spock’s unerring focus on reality instead of symbolism and inuendo has been an important part of my maturation process.  [Please do not listen to my long-suffering wife who claims that I am the world’s only 75-year old 14-year old.].  Mr. Spock always valued data in order to support observation.

You may recall that I have kvetched here more than occasionally about how NBA games are regressing into nothing more than 3-point shooting displays.  Mr. Spock might have read those kvetchings and raised an eyebrow – – until an AP report on March 30, 2019 provided data to support my complaint(s).  Here are the highlights of that report:

  1. “The NBA has set a record for 3-pointers made for the seventh consecutive year, after the 25,808th of the season was made…”
  2. “The league is on pace for about an 8 percent rise in 3-pointers over last season — and 3s are getting made a staggering 57 percent more often than what was the case just five years ago.”
  3. “The league record for total 3-pointers attempted was broken earlier this month, with 72,354 getting hoisted…”  [This happened in a total of 1144 regular season games, so this extrapolates to 77,793 attempts for the full NBA season.]
  4. “The first season where the NBA combined to make 15,000 3-pointers was 2009-10. The 20,000 plateau was broken just three seasons ago, and this season’s total is on pace to end up just shy of 28,000.”

If in fact the NBA teams attempt 77,000 3-point shots this year, that would mean teams would – on average – attempt 63 3-point shots per regular season game.

  • That is approximately one 3-point shot every 46 seconds of play.

I plead guilty to being grumpy and crotchety on this issue; nonetheless, there is a basis for my grumpiness and my “crotchetude” …  [meaning my state of being crotchety]

Since I just made up the word “crotchetude” because I can’t easily come up with a real word for what I wanted to say, that reminds me that there is a mysterious process by which the “Keepers of the English Language” – – probably secret members of the Trilateral Commission don’t you know – – add “official” words to the language by incorporating them in the Oxford English Dictionary.  Here are some words that were not officially part of the English Language until recently:

  • Cosplay – – admitted in 2008
  • Broadband – – admitted in 2012
  • Kombucha – – admitted in 2013 [Aside: It tastes just as bad in 2019 as it did in 2013.]
  • Sexting – – admitted in 2015
  • Ringtone – – admitted in 2018.

I suspect that the Keepers of the English Language have not yet focused on a word that I would love to see acquire the status of “Official English”.  It started as an acronym for a happening in baseball games and it has now begun to morph into a word used to describe the player who is involved in that happening in a baseball game.  I present to you the word:

  • Tootblan

The original acronym stood for:

  • Thrown Out On The Baselines Like A Nincompoop.

There is not a tootblan in every game – – but when you see one, you can give yourself a facepalm [another word that Official English needs, by the way] and immediately recognize that the player is a tootblan.  If admitted to Official English, the word could then acquire the properties of a verb so that when Joe Flabeetz gets thrown out at home by 15 feet, we could say that he was tootblanning all the way from third base.

  • Memo to the Keepers of the English Language:  Give some attention to “tootblan” as a candidate for admission to Official English.

Speaking very loosely about baseball, here is an on-sight report from #2 son who was attending yesterday’s Yankees/Orioles game in Baltimore.  According to a text he sent me, there was a standing ovation in Camden Yards when the O’s sent up a pinch hitter for Chris Davis late in the game.  Here is why:

  • Davis is in the 4th year of a 7-year deal that pays him $23M every season.
  • The O’s Opening Day Payroll this year totaled $80.2M; Davis accounts for 28.6% of the total club payroll.
  • Last year, Davis hit .168 with an OPS of .539 and struck out 192 times.
  • So far in 2019, Davis is 0 for 17 with an amazing 11 strikeouts.
  • Davis ended 2018 with an 0 for 21 streak; so, he is now hitless in his last 38 MLB plate appearances.

Oh, by the way, Chris Davis is in no danger of winning a Gold Glove for his defense at first base.  Hence the warm welcome for the pinch hitter yesterday…

The Final Four happens this weekend.  My bracket died in the beginning because I thought Nevada was going to the Final Four and that Texas Tech would go out in the Round of 32.  So, I choose not to pretend that I had this one psyched out from the start…

As you prepare to watch the semi-finals on Saturday night, here are two things to keep in mind:

  1. Auburn, Texas Tech and Virginia have never won a national championship.  Therefore, if Texas Tech beats Michigan State in the second game on Saturday night, there must be a “first time champion” this year.
  2. Auburn is a 5-seed in this tournament.  According to a friend who has his own databases related to sports that he has been nurturing for at least the last 20 years, there has never been a team seeded #5 in any region that went on to win the entire tournament.  The NCAA tournament began in 1939; you may be certain that I have not and will not go back through the records to confirm my friend’s assertion.

Finally, since I advocated above for the recognition of a new word in the English language, let me present a similar sentiment expressed by Dwight Perry in the Seattle Times:

“Shouldn’t an errant hike over the punter’s head be known as a snapfu?”

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



8 thoughts on “Sports And Linguistics Today – – Really”

  1. My bracket on ESPN has MSU, Texas Tech, and Virginia. If Virginia beats MSU Monday night I will be golden.

  2. “crotchetude” — sounds like something a person with a problem in the nether regions would need a very heavy dose of antibiotics for. 😉

    1. Bones:

      The Keepers of the English Language would need to be very specific in the definition if they were to add “crotchetude” to the Oxford English dictionary. 🙂

  3. Wilt Chamberlain once made 100 points in a game without attempting a three point shot. There is no telling what his scoring record with women (he said something like 10 or 20,000, I can’t find this stat in the record books) would have been if he could ‘shoot the three’.

  4. I request follow-up stats after the season ends. A shooting contest is a questionable evolution of in-the-paint basketball.

    1. TenaciousP:

      Given how late in the season the stats cited here were compiled, it is highly unlikely that the extrapolations will be off by more than 1 or 2%. The stats covered 1144 of the 1230 NBA regular season games.

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