The 32nd annual Trite Trophy: Take a look to see what cliche 'gets it'
December 27, 2015 12:00 AM
If a Steeler isn't playing with the necessary Compete Level, or perhaps enters the Concussion Protocol, there's No Question it'll be Next Man Up for coach Mike Tomlin.
By Gene Collier / Pittsburgh Post-Gazette
Look, I get it.
I mean I totally get it.
Too many people are saying, “I get it,” way, way too often; that’s what I get. What happened to just saying, “I know” or “Yes, I understand?”
A simple nod will often suffice to indicate you are successfully processing the information at hand, but the speaking culture, the squawkocracy if you will, has gone hyper-demonstrative on this.
At least 247 times a day all over the 24/7 sports channels, the 24/7 news channels, and even the 24/7 alligator agitating channels, someone is blurting, “Hey, I Get It!”
I don’t get it. But That’s Just Me.
Perhaps at this point you suspect you’ve stumbled into our shameless annual cliche-fest, the one that will award the 32nd annual Trite Trophy to the worst sports cliche of 2015 right here before The Top Of The Hour.
You Got That Right.
By column’s end we’ll have completed another overwrought exercise in trying to cleanse the language of feckless usage, and worse, we’ll doubtless feel like We Left A Few Plays Out There.
And that will certainly be an Added Plus (are there added minuses?) to our rhetorical woes, which introduces one of our major gripes for the year now ending — the proliferation in 2015 of woes, mostly but not limited to the print media, where headlines proliferated about legal woes, injury woes, power-play woes, even Wall Street’s woes, the zoo’s woes, the Nittany Lions’ woes, the Steelers’ headset woes at New England, etc. Woe is from the Middle English meaning an affliction. It’s time for that word to have a Walk Year, so whoa on the woes..
Know What I’m Sayin’?
Now clearly, Cleary has become its own cliche due to ubiquitous use stemming mainly, It Seems To Me, from the always excellent Mike Greenberg on the national “Mike & Mike” morning show, on which Greenie continues to set up about four sentences a minute with “Clearly,” after which he says something that is, admittedly, quite clear.
So Clearly, Enough Is Enough.
He’s Playing At A Very High Level became a cliche unto itself this year, and while that’s always debatable depending on the pronoun’s antecedent, (unless preceded by Clearly), He’s Playing At A Very High Level doesn’t say much more than “Hey, he’s pretty good” once accomplished. Further, when you say, “He’s Playing At A Very High Level,” well, Clearly, so was Dock Ellis, Once Upon A Time.
This was also the year in which it became ever more evident that while You Can’t Just Flip The Switch, you can in fact Flip The Field. Flip The Field seems an annoying if efficient way to describe the transition from one out-of-fashion cliche to another, from Great Field Position to Terrible Field Position or verse visa, but, when I think too long about it, I wonder if Flip The Field unlocks the long-standing football mystery of teams that are trying to Stretch The Field Vertically, of offenses that are trying to Get Vertical, or even the relatively new construction of players, mostly wideouts, Running Vertically, which is somehow not the gyroscopic opposite of Running Downhill.
If the horizontal football field can now be flipped, then it follows that at some point in what Mike Tomlin might call “the flippage,” one end of the horizontal plane must surely be up and the other down, just like when you flip one of those frozen breaded chicken planks on a baking sheet (yum, I know). At some point, one end’s gotta be up, and that could be why people are still trying to get vertical, Toward That End.
None of this excuses the always estimable Rob King of Root Sports for saying, after new Penguins coach Mike Sullivan had coached and lost his first two games, “Well, if anyone thought a flip could be switched … ”
That’s A Big If.
One of the things we’ve come to terms with over the three-plus decades here at Trite Headquarters, now conveniently located upstairs from Burgatory on the North Shore (and yet we remain 100 percent unsponsored) is that people who talk for a living will unavoidably say some silly things, although it hasn’t kept us from laughing at them.
Ron Jaworski, as skilled and as articulate a football analyst as there is, for example, let himself say this recently: “[Buffalo’s Shady] McCoy is literally impossible to stop.”
Final: Eagles 23, Bills 20.
Too many decorated analysts to name said exactly this at some point this fall: “I like him as a football player.”
Yes, but how do you like him as a Belgian menswear designer, an unaffiliated neuro-trauma consultant, a radical Salvadoran archbishop, a quick-thinking porn hub operator, or as any of the two-dozen other media labels I’ve collected this year and have no outlet for?
Hey I Get It. You like him as a football player, but as a football analyst talking about football, a simple, “I like him,” likely will suffice.
On his weekly radio show on the off week, celebrated goal post humper Antonio Brown said, “We will regrouperate after the bye.”
Other than regrouperate literally not being a word, I’m not sure there’s anything wrong with that statement except that the NFL’s bye is not technically a bye, as byes occur only in tournaments, which at least a dozen people like to point out every single blessed season.
I Mean I Totally Get It.
Time now for the completely unawaited presentation of the Mixologist Medal (aka the Hines Ward Award) for the person who most deftly started one cliche only to finish another in the Time Honored manner of Hinesian discourse such as “They’ll have their hands cut out for them.”
It was A Down Year for mixology overall, with too many tepid efforts such as, “They’re pulling out all the straws,” and “it’s time to put the gas on the pedal.”
Our runner-up In A Weak Division is then-West Virginia quarterback Clint Trickett, who in describing the Tremendous Upside of draft-eligible Mountaineers wideout Kevin White, said, “His ceiling is through the roof.”
If that is correct, then obviously there was an explosion of some kind, unless there’s another way your ceiling goes through the roof. White is apparently so explosive he can not only Take The Top Off The Defense, he can blow the roof off his own house.
But our winner of the 2015 Mixologist Medal is college basketball analyst Brad Daugherty, who helpfully advised Wake Forest, in the final minutes March 1 against Pitt, to “take the air out of the clock.”
An inspired marriage of “take time off the clock” and “take the air out of the ball,” right there, but Clearly, just as you can’t literally take time off the clock, you can’t literally take the air out of the ball unless — Wait For It — you’re the New England Patriots.
That Being Said, and by the way, Don’t Sleep On That Being Said as a potential Trite Trophy winner Down The Road, as sports analysts love to say That Being Said after almost everything that’s being said.
That Being Said must at least be In The Discussion for some future Trite Trophy, or In The Conversation or in the chatter or in the Congressional Record. In something.
We had hoped to have a report by this point in our show from the Blue Ribbon Panel appointed by the Trite subcommittee (me) to determine whether Difference Maker and Game Changer were, in fact, the same cliche, but the panel Just Didn’t Get It Done, and we have to be Moving Forward, because we don’t want to be get Behind The Chains. Clearly, we would prefer to stay Ahead Of The Sticks.
Under the Watchful Eyes, the hearful ears, and the digestive stomachs of the Committee as a whole (me), a variety of sports are eligible to contribute cliches to this exercise and, of course, are eligible To Win It All, but football traditionally buries them in unquenchable verbosity. No other sport, for example, has the equivalent of this nonsense: “No Question he’s been a terrific football player for this football team running the football.”
Hockey tried hard this year with its obsession with everyone’s Compete Level and the indisputable advisability of Creating Traffic In Front Of The Net, establishing a Net Front Presence, but too much of what’s being offered is a simple matter of Getting Pucks To The Net and Getting Pucks In Deep.
Hey, I Get It, but the fact is, if multiple pucks are going to be in play at the same time, you’re talking about changing The Very Essence of the sport.
And probably for the better.
Baseball keeps insisting on Backdoor Slider without ever mentioning a frontdoor fastball or a sidedoor splitter, just as it inexhaustibly references That Little Cutter, the fastball-slider hybrid that somehow prevents it from ever being called that big cutter. This is the mirror image of the The Big Tight End in football, where there happen to be zero little ones.
Hey, It’s A Copy Cat League.
I don’t even know if that’s where that goes, But There’s That.
Football seemed obsessed this year with Getting Home, or of the pass rushers’ inability To Get Home, meaning reach the quarterback prior to the passer because He Gets The Ball Out Quick. Don’t confuse this home with the house, as in Take It To The House, (literally “score a touchdown) and don’t confuse that house with Bring The House (literally a full blitz). Is It Me Or is it getting to where a house is not a home?
Just A Precious Few additional observations now as we head toward our finalists and our worst-in-show here at Carnegie Hall (As If).
I don’t want to hear this anymore: “He’s Very Athletic.”
I know, in fact, some of these guys are so athletic they are actually professional athletes. I mean I Get It. And please, no more of this: The Team Nobody Wants To Play. The Steelers have been mentioned as this very thing recently, but Clearly, there are only three teams nobody wants to play: The Harlem Globetrotters, The A Team and SEAL Team 6.
Please Take Your Seats as we recognize In Our Live Audience some of the top cliches of 2015 and many of our past winners, who Need No Introduction: Take A Shot Down The Field, Put His Foot In The Ground (always better than his face in the ground), Shy Of The First Down, It’s Not How You Start But How You Finish, It’s Not A Sprint It’s A Marathon (never used at the start of the 110-meter dash because It’s A Sprint), All Kinds Of Time, Under The Radar (are the Golden State Warriors over the radar?), Single High Safety, Two Deep Safety (formerly Cover Two), Back Shoulder Throw, Buy In, Bought In, Totally Bought In, Drank The Kool-Aid, High-Point The Football (like the Aaron Rodgers to Richard Rodgers Hail Mary that went 50 feet in the air? You high-pointin’ that? Didn’t think so), Meaningless Game (aren’t they all?), Important Game (oxymoron), On An Island, Small Sample Size, Skill Set, Tackle The Catch (after Seahawks defensive tackle Ahtyba Rubin intercepted a Ben Roethlisberger pass in Seattle, the Steelers had to catch the tackle), It’s Process, It Is What It Is, At The End Of The Day, The Second Level (generally translated as the linebackers in any defense but you rarely hear the secondary called The Third Level, perhaps because often as not the Steelers haven’t had a third level), Comfort Zone, Coach ‘Em Up (or often down), Crunch Time, Gut Check, Smashmouth Football, Complete The Process Of The Catch, Third And Manageable, Red Zone (the greatest living cliche), and He’s Dialed In.
He’s dialed in to what? Who dials anything anymore? That Is Sooo, Like, 1959.
When We Come Back, your 2015 finalists.
Oh right, where would we go? We’re unsponsored.
So now the moment upwards of a dozen of you have so long awaited:
Our third runner-up is Take Care Of Business, which has somehow become synonymous with “win,” rendering both business and sports blather meaningless. “We just have to take care of business,” say the athletes. It might help you to think of the Penguins not as a losing team, just a team that’s failed to take care of business not to mention the puck.
Our second runner-up is In All Three Phases. The phrase “offense, defense and special teams” remains just one small word longer than “In All Three Phases,” but In All Three Phrases is annually beaten to death.” Clearly, football needs a fourth phase, perhaps cheerleading should be included, but let’s not get into the press box.
Our first runner-up is Concussion Protocol. A cliche that has finally Come Into Its Own in 2015, Concussion Protocol got so used, confused and abused by a pantheon of analysts this year that it might have won except that it remains too far from meaningless, being an essential component of violent life in this NFL.
Now Please Keep Your Seats for The Big Unveil, Ladies and Gentleman your 2016 Trite Trophy winner — Miss Colombia, no wait, I’m terribly sorry. Correction.
Our winner is Next Man Up.
Oh my. Few cliches in our history have better met the three criteria to win the trite: Exhaustive overuse, essential meaningless, and I have to really hate it.
“It’s all about Next Man Up,” you heard every week of this season from every NFL outpost. “Coach [Tomlin] preaches Next Man Up.”
I somehow doubt this rises to the level of theology, but even had it appeared somewhere in the new testament, what choice does any coach have when there’s an injury, play 10 guys, or nine, or eight? Next man up isn’t so much a philosophy as a requirement.
Given the crucial injuries every NFL team suffers every weekend, from Denver’s stud tackle Ryan Clady’s torn ACL on the first day of offseason workouts through the autumn-long shredding of the franchise quarterbacks to the sidelining of Shady McCoy, Marcus Mariota, and Tyrann Mathieu just last weekend, Clearly it’s Not So Much a case of Next Man Up in this league; it’s next man down.
Hey You’ve Been Fabulous.
Thank You So Much.
Don’t Forget Take Good Care Of Your Wait Staff.
Obligatory chart of past winners
2014 Shy Of The First Down
2013 Going Forward
2012 Take a Shot Down The Field.
2011 Are You Kidding Me?
2010 At the end of the day
2009 Dial up a blitz
2008 Manage the game
2007 They're very physical
2006 It is what it is
2005 It is what it is
2004 Shutdown corner
2003 Cover 2
2002 Running downhill
2001 Put points on the scoreboard
2000 Walk-off homer
1999 Somebody's gotta step up
1998 Eight men in the box
1997 Show me the money
1996 Been there, done that
1995 West Coast offense
1994 Red zone
1993 It hasn't sunk in yet
1992 Mentality of a linebacker
1991 You don't have to be a rocket scientist
1990 Smashmouth football
1989 He coughs it up
1988 They went to the well once too often
1987 Gut Check
1986 Crunch time
1984 Play 'em one game at a time
Gene Collier: firstname.lastname@example.org and Twitter @genecollier.
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