Monday, June 25, 2007

Chronicle of Cliche: Chad Ford

Reading "Chad Ford's Mock Draft, Version 5.0: Picks 1-14," one notices repeated use of worn-out metaphors and figures of speech. Ford uses some metaphors I like, and a lot of figures of speech that should be written down, put into a bottle, and thrown out to sea somewhere near the Bermuda Triangle.

"this is a time when many GMs are notorious for dropping smoke screens"

I understand the metaphor of a "smoke screen," but how exactly does one drop a smoke screen?

"...they'll drop everything just for the chance."

What are they holding onto that they will drop? A smoke screen?

"...but how much will these workouts move the needle?"

A gauge metaphor like this isn't overused; I like it.

"While the chances of GM Kevin Pritchard's shocking the world and taking Durant have increased..."

We're going to shock the world! Probably not, really, but it's fun to talk about shocking the world! That's quite the hyperbole for surprise.

"New Sonics GM Sam Presti still has the easiest decision of the year: Just take whichever guy Portland passes on and enjoy the ride for the next decade."

"Enjoy the ride"? 1,190,000 google hits. Enjoy the ride of my chronicles of cliche.

"...still needs to find a big man with a pulse."

If he has any big men without a pulse, he should probably call a doctor. Or a mortician. This is an overused metaphor to refer to competence. It's similar to something like "he'll do anything with two legs" (except a bit more discerning, as "he'll do anything with a pulse" discounts necrophilia. Then again, it doesn't discount bestiality. But this wasn't my intention in this parentheses).

"At the end of the day, most GMs..."

I hate--HATE--HATE--the phrase "at the end of the day." "The bottom line" used to be the most overused cliche for "ultimately," but "At the end of the day" has replaced it as perhaps the most overused figure of speech in our era. 3,510,000 google hits. Uff da!

"so I think Ainge swallows hard and pulls the trigger."

LOOK OUT, HE'S GOT A GUN! Mr. Ainge, it's a long-term solution to a short-term problem. The idea of taking Yi Jianlian might...oh wait. He's not really pulling a trigger.

"The Bucks would like to get their hands on Horford or Conley."

Are they going to touch him? Is this like the laying on of hands in traditional church ceremonies? Like all the people touching Mr. Biggs at the end of A Gathering of Old Men?

"...whose offensive skills could give the Bulls some desperately needed points in the paint down the road."

Here's how you know you're using an overused idiom: if you replace the figure of speech with a literal synonym, the phrase becomes unclear. "Up the path" means pretty much the same thing as "down the road." But if you replace "down the road" with "up the path" in that sentence, it becomes a bit confusing--because we're not used to it (it's not as awkward as wikipedia's example of changing "kick the bucket" to "kick the pail," but it has a similar effect). "Down the road" is another metaphor which has lost all power of actual metaphor: when you see that phrase, you certainly do not picture an actual road.

"The word is that..."

I don't begrudge Ford's use of this phrase: he's trying to convey a general idea without giving away his sources. Generally, you want to avoid statements that suggest a general belief without specifying anybody holding that belief. But here, I think it is OK.

"Combine that with concerns about his motor, and he could slip."

Does the player have a pacemaker? Well, I'd have concerns about drafting a player with a pacemaker, too.

"...he has moved into the picture for Atlanta as well."

I would guess somebody or something moving into the picture once had metaphoric power. Now, it's just an everyday phrase: we know what it means without having it evoke an image. And that's fine: it is still pretty clear language.

"Thornton's a scoring machine"

I knew a mad scientist that really did invent a scoring machine; they wouldn't let it play in the NBA, though. There really was an episode of The Twilight Zone where a robot pitcher was dominating until they gave him human emotion. I think so, anyway: I only read the Rod Serling short story. It was pretty stupid either way.

"They'd prefer to get their hands on a guy like Al Horford, Jeff Green or Brandan Wright."

More NBA teams wanting to lay their hands on somebody! Are they medieval highway robbers? And this is really picky, but would they prefer to get a guy like Horford, Green, or Wright, or would they prefer to get Horford, Green, or Wright?

Chad Ford, at the end of the day, this has been fun. Since you are a cliche machine, perhaps down the road I could pull the trigger on another Chronicle of Cliche featuring your writing.

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