In "Politics and the English Language," George Orwell condemns “worn-out metaphors.” His first rule of good English usage: “Never use a metaphor, simile, or other figure of speech which you are used to seeing in print.”
In an effort to spread Orwell's message on good writing, I will begin chronicling worn-out metaphors used by writers. I will begin by focusing on Peter King--his joke about an announcer overusing cliches in the very column in which he uses 22 cliches is the inspiration for this new venture. However, I will chronicle other cliches I find in print (in print means on the internet, by the way) used by professional sportswriters. If there is a particular writer you would like me to look closely at, let me know. If you find some worn-out metaphors being used, feel free to alert me in comment form. This could end up being a long-term, massive project, and I'm willing to put work into it (I'm an English teacher because this is the sort of thing I find fun).
So pay attention for "PV's chronicle of worn-out metaphors," which begins in the post below.
And by request, here is the extended commentary I was working on Peter King's column before I found my raison d'etre of seeking out worn-out metaphors. Here is the original MMQB for this week. It's not all just picking apart odd remarks; he said some things that made me think and made me want to comment. But it's
mostly odd remarks.
"Ronde Barber outplaying his brother for the first time in a while...It's not often Ronde can joke about outshining his brother"
I actually think Ronde has had the better career (he's better at his position than Tiki is at his), so I don't know that I agree with this. Besides, his brother hasn't played yet (the Giants go Monday). I'm pretty sure that Ronde outplays Tiki everytime, you know, that Ronde plays and Tiki doesn't.
Shocking! An athlete who cares about the world a little bit.
Actually, this is a true point. Many people are shocked when an athlete retires in his prime because they only know the identity of the "athlete." But a running back is just a title; the person playing running back is still a person.
Though I would like to mention Ricky Williams. He is a human being who cared about aspects of life other than football, then decided one day he didn't want to do it anymore (and only came back because he was essentially forced to do so). But the other aspects of life that Williams wanted to live are considered an "alternative lifestyle," I guess, not a life in the media. There's a difference...but is it that great? If Tiki Barber is admirable for leaving football to pursue other aspects of life...what of Ricky Williams?
Not many people will buy this, but Barber's been the best back in football over the last few years.
The numbers suggest King is right on this. However, in my opinion, Barber is having his 5th HOF worthy season. In 2002 and 2003, he had good yards from scrimmage numbers; in 2004 and 2005, he was phenomenal (and 2006 is, so far, similar). The numbers before 2002 suggest a solid RB who is a very good receiver. So if Barber is a HOFer, why wouldn't Terrell Davis be one? He has three otherworldy seasons ('96, '97, and '98), and his great seasons include two Super Bowl wins, a Super Bowl MVP, a regular season MVP, a rushing title, and a 2,000 yard season. I hope that if King is a proponent of Barber for the HOF, he is also a proponent of Davis.
Same old Indy. Averaging 29 points a game. Allowed 4.8 per carry against the Skins, which means Booger McFarland is not the elixir to fix everything that ailed the run defense.
Well, that's an impressive yards per carry number, and it's something to be concerned about. Of course, the Colts did hold the Washington offense to just 7 meaningful points. And McFarland had been on the team all of a few days. We'll be able to judge his impact sometime in December
6. Minnesota (4-2). Talk about a leap up the rankings. Can't avoid respecting the Vikings any longer, not after they've helped six foes this season to 16, 13, 19, 17, 17 and 13 points and beaten the defending NFC champs at their impregnable home by 18.
No debate here, and since I generally skim through King looking for mention of the Vikes, I might as well note those comments.
How much weight do you give a loss on a 62-yard field goal from a guy who never kicked it farther than 50 in a game before? I refuse to kill the Eagles, who played gallantly in a tough place, gained 506 yards and lost on something fluky.
OK, I shouldn't give much weight to a loss on a 62-yard field goal. But when a 4-2 team goes against a 1-4 team, gets down 17-0, has a serious problem with turnovers and clock management, and needs to stage a wicked comeback just to make it close, then loses on something fluky--that I'll give weight to.
Offensive Player of the Week (tie) Steve Hutchinson, G, Minnesota. Made the key block/mauling on Chester Taylor's 95-yard touchdown run -- the longest in franchise history --that gave the Vikes a 24-10 lead in the third quarter and clinched the upset at once-powerful Seattle.
The Dallas Cowboys have issued 450 media credentials to ESPN for tonight's game against the Giants and related activities, including radio shows, pregame TV shows and the game telecast. "I'm giving them the keys to Texas Stadium and telling them, 'Just turn out the lights when you leave,'" said Seinfeldian Dallas director of media relations Rich Dalrymple.
Seinfeldian? Uhh...I can't begin to get into what bothers me about this line.
Minnesota's pluck. Congratulations, Brad Childress. You're really making a difference.
Don't whine about the officiating, Jon Kitna. That's beneath you.
Evidently Kitna is too good to complain about the refs. He's some sort of saint, I guess. And as a side note, Bill Cowher, for all the tough-guy reputation, is the greatest whiner about officiating in the league.
I still can't believe the Lions and the Raiders passed on Matt Leinart.
OK...but to believe the Lions made a stupid decision, you have to pretend that they didn't just sign Jon Kitna AND Josh McCown in the off-season. If the real NFL were like the Madden video game, and free agency came after the draft, the Lions could have taken Leinart and not signed McCown. But it would look pretty stupid for the team that was giving up on Joey Harrington and had just drafted three straight wide receivers to draft a quarterback after signing two of them in the off season.
BTW, I believe McCown is going to be a good, solid QB, and the Lions should let him play IMMEDIATELY.
How do you not love the Detroit Tigers?
I guess you might be a fan of the St. Louis Cardinals.
At this point I found the remark about cliches, which sparked the commentary you can find in the post below. By the way, I realize that some of these cliches listed may be a stretch. I went with everything at all metaphoric that I could find. Some of them, however, are quite obviously overused metaphors that you could find anywhere in print form.