The Catch Phrase
The art of sports journalism, especially in the broadcasting realm, is one that requires a skill rivaling the finest artists of all kinds in this history of the world. The broadcast paints a picture with his words, the great ones doing so with such aplomb that you can close your eyes and picture the scene unfolding beautifully before you… or just listen to the radio. It’s an art that requires a fine balance of effusiveness, humility, and unassumingness; a willingness to be a part of the background while also being front and center of the action. Vin Scully does it with an avuncular soothingness and tongue in cheek self depracation that even the most passive baseball fan can appreciate. The unparalleled Andres Cantor does it with a boyish enthusiasm intertwined with a detail-oriented genius that Einstein would have appreciated. Marv Albert, between depraved romps with prostitutes, does it with an effortless clarity devoid of ever a stumble. There are more, too many to mention in fact, that spin the most beautiful yarns over what most of the time really amounts to just a game in the large scheme of things.
And then you have the 90%. The mediocre. The commentators who do just that. Comment. And they’re tolerable if only because in plenty of cases, you really have no idea who number 46 is on the Carolina Hurricanes, but he happens to be the guy with the puck.
Then, it’s the 5%. The hacks. The ones who despite their minority seem to be a part of the broadcasting team for 99% of relevant games. There’s only one cricket in your room at 3am, but the incessant chirping makes it seem like the little bastard is everywhere. These are the ones. They are so desperate to make their mark, to ascend the ranks of broadcasting and be recognized among the elite that they take the desperate step to develop that one thing that becomes synonymous with them. The Catch Phrase.
The catch phrase is quite possibly the stupidest thing in the history of sports stupidity. Oh sure, there are exceptions. The aforementioned Cantor’s, “GOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOLLLLL!!!!!!!!” invokes excitement among viewers both in Spanish and in English, Cantor’s brilliance equal in both languages. UFC’s Mike Goldberg’s “Here! We! Go!” before the main event also is fitting, catering to the rabid bloodlust of the full contact sport’s fanbase. Albert’s simple, “Yes!” when a basketball player hits a big shot is fitting too, because that’s where it ends, until another player sinks a shot, one that is sure to be just one of 70 or so throughout the course of a game. And that, folks, is pretty much where it ends.
Just to name a few that really irk me, Max Bretos’ “Yeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeees!” after a soccer goal is scored is both patently a rip off of Cantor AND Albert, but utterly pointless when effusive praise or enthusiastic analysis of the scored goal would be far more fitting. The White Sox’ Ken Harrelson has a satchel full of idiotic ones, not the least of which is, “He gone…” when an opposing team’s player strikes out. What would be wrong with, “Got him. Great slider by Humber.” Nothing. Nothing would be wrong with it. The utterly likeable Gus Johnson loses points for, “Instant Classic.” That’s a freaking oxymoron, you idiot! By very definition a classic CAN’T be instant. He does make up some points for, “What a game!”, though he uses it too frequently for it to have any real value anymore, kind of like the Zimbabwean dollar… What seems like the entire staff at ESPN appears to spend hours trying to develop this sophomoric word vomit because it’s all they do. In fact, according to an old Sportscenter commercial featuring Kenny Mayne replaying the same Ken Griffey Jr. homerun trying to come up with a good phrase would indicate that they might. (someone please help me find video of this, it’s awesome)
Why do they do this? Why? Insecurity in who they are? Fear of being forgotten? Whatever it is, it needs to stop. Please. Catch phrases with very few exceptions pillage beauty from the sports we love to watch. Catch phrases from announcers will be among the first things I outlaw when I am president… and really, how bad could I do at THAT job?
Bonus Peeve: People who use highlighters to circle things. You do realize that the damn things were invented so you don’t have to navigate your writing implement around the thing you want to accentuate? If you want to draw a circle, use a pen! If you’re gonna use a highlighter, use it as the damn thing was intended when it was invented!