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Wednesday, May 20, 2009

Visser: Incredible, glorious moments cheapened by cliche phrase

It’s a joyful moment burdened by a terrible name. It’s a cascade of emotions for the winning players and their fans, yet it’s described in the most negative way. Johnny Damon, after a home run giving the Yankees their third straight come-from-behind win over the Twins, gets a pie in the face and here’s how it’s portrayed.

A “walk-off home run.”

Is there any more of a buzz kill? Should a face full of whipped cream and gleeful celebration be defined in terms of the losers?

When did this happen anyway? No surprise, it goes back to a pitcher. Back in 1988, San Francisco Chronicle columnist Lowell Cohn quoted Oakland reliever Dennis Eckersley describing a game-ending hit, when the pitcher slumps his shoulders and the team walks off the field. He called it a “walk-off piece.”

The term is now ubiquitous—a “walk-off hit”, a “walk-off walk”. What’s next, a walk-off balk?

No…a “walk-off Dick” would be nice.

Thanks to, irony of ironically enough, Walkoff Walk.

Repoz Posted: May 20, 2009 at 08:02 PM | 25 comment(s) Login to Bookmark
  Tags: media, special topics

Reader Comments and Retorts

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   1. Craig Calcaterra Posted: May 20, 2009 at 08:30 PM (#3186489)
Her main argument is that great calls of the past (Gibson, Fisk, Thomson) would have been ruined if the term "walk off home run" was inserted into the call itself.

Except I can't ever remember an announcer using the phrase "walk off home run" contemporaneously. It's almost always a post-game wrapup or a game story thing. Announcers either have their own home run call or else they say "it's outta here" or whatever.
   2. A.T.F.W. Posted: May 20, 2009 at 08:35 PM (#3186501)
the readers over at cbssports.com don't really show their best side in that comments section.
   3. Craig Calcaterra Posted: May 20, 2009 at 08:44 PM (#3186522)
Ack, you're right about that, tribefan.

At the risk of jinxing it, I want to thank whatever diety responsible for keeping BTF mostly moron free for lo these many years.

And no, Jim, this does not mean I think you're God.
   4. Dr. Vaux Posted: May 20, 2009 at 08:50 PM (#3186540)
Joe Castiglione has used the term in a call, I'm pretty sure.
   5. Jolly Old St. Nick Still Gags in October Posted: May 20, 2009 at 08:51 PM (#3186542)
I can understand "walk-off home run," but when's the last time that a "walk-off single" ever enabled the winning run to walk home from second base? Was it when Gary Pettis was patrolling center field in Tiger Stadium?
   6. RJ in TO Posted: May 20, 2009 at 08:57 PM (#3186554)
I can understand "walk-off home run," but when's the last time that a "walk-off single" ever enabled the winning run to walk home from second base? Was it when Gary Pettis was patrolling center field in Tiger Stadium?


Johnny Damon is still active, and Shannon Stewart was active last year. I'm sure there are a couple other outfield arms who would have a horrid time stopping almost any runner from scoring from second, no matter how meandering a stroll the runner decided to take.
   7. BDC Posted: May 20, 2009 at 09:03 PM (#3186561)
Why does it have to be second base, Andy? Gene Larkin's hit in Game Seven in 1991 was certainly a walk-off single: bases loaded, one out, defenders in.
   8. Jose Can Still Seabiscuit Posted: May 20, 2009 at 09:03 PM (#3186562)
Isn't this kind of the equivalent of a standup comic busting out "and what's the deal with airline food?" It seems like every year for the last 5-6 years we've had someone griping about "walk-offs" and it seems they always punctuate it with "walk-off balk" as the end of civilization.
   9. Tom Nawrocki Posted: May 20, 2009 at 09:12 PM (#3186571)
I can understand "walk-off home run," but when's the last time that a "walk-off single" ever enabled the winning run to walk home from second base?


The phrase was coined, IIRC, by Dennis Eckersley, and refers to the defensive players walking off the field with their heads down.
   10. AROM Posted: May 20, 2009 at 09:36 PM (#3186596)
I'm sure there are a couple other outfield arms who would have a horrid time stopping almost any runner from scoring from second, no matter how meandering a stroll the runner decided to take.


Thanks to steroid testing, Juan Pierre is playing regularly again.
   11. Best Regards, President of Comfort, Esq. Posted: May 20, 2009 at 10:19 PM (#3186631)
The phrase was coined, IIRC, by Dennis Eckersley, and refers to the defensive players walking off the field with their heads down.
Are you the guy from Memento?
   12. CFiJ Posted: May 20, 2009 at 10:19 PM (#3186632)
I've always liked the Japanese term, and wish it would get picked up in the States: Sayonara. Over here we have sayonara home runs, sayonara hits, sayonara doubles. It just sounds better.
   13. Tom Nawrocki Posted: May 20, 2009 at 10:39 PM (#3186643)
Are you the guy from Memento?


Yes I am.

Are we supposed to be reading the intros now?
   14. TerpNats Posted: May 20, 2009 at 10:44 PM (#3186653)
Nope -- "incredible, glorious moments" are cheapened by...John Sterling. Comparing his call of a walk-off homer to Russ Hodges' call of bobby Thomson's homer is scripted shtick vs. unrehearsed, gemuine emotion.
   15. Petunia inquires about ponies Posted: May 20, 2009 at 10:50 PM (#3186661)
I've always liked the Japanese term, and wish it would get picked up in the States: Sayonara. Over here we have sayonara home runs, sayonara hits, sayonara doubles. It just sounds better.

Jon Miller was just saying this same thing on a Giants radio broadcast the other day. At the time he claimed that ESPN invented and popularized the "walk-off" term, and that he wished MLB media would pick up "sayonara" or at least "goodbye".

and it seems they always punctuate it with "walk-off balk" as the end of civilization.

Year or two ago I was at an A's game against the Angels when K-Rod fumbled the lob back from the catcher in the bottom of the 9th, allowing the winning run to score from 3rd and creating a brief epidemic of T-Shirts bearing the date of the game with the caption "Walk-Off Drop".
   16. Greg Pope thinks the Cubs are reeking havoc Posted: May 20, 2009 at 11:31 PM (#3186699)
Am I the only one who assumed that the walking off was done by the offensive team? At least in reference to a home run, which is the only one I heard for a while, I figured it meant that the winning team walks off, as in "I'm done here, see ya later". Then it migrated to doubles, singles, etc. and, like many figures of speech, lost its literal meaning while conveying the idea.
   17. BeanoCook Posted: May 20, 2009 at 11:43 PM (#3186714)
the readers over at cbssports.com don't really show their best side in that comments section.


Nothing can hold a candle to the sweet collection of pure ignorami over at the www.usatoday.com comments section. I go there when I need a laugh when I am sick, I've added it to 7-up and cinnamon toast to make me feel better.
   18. Srul Itza Posted: May 20, 2009 at 11:49 PM (#3186720)
Am I the only one who assumed that the walking off was done by the offensive team?

Probably. Even with a home run, the guy who hit it isn't walking. The offensive team doesn't "walk off" the field -- they run out to celebrate.

It is the fielding 9 who, as the ball sails out of the park or the winning run scores, slowly walks off the field.

My favorite of these, even more so than the home run, is when they load the bases and bring the outfield up close because even a sacrifice fly is a killer, and some guy bloops one over the outfielders that would have been caught in any other configuration. They just sort of watch the ball go past, and start trudging off the field.
   19. Forsch 10 From Navarone (Dayn) Posted: May 20, 2009 at 11:52 PM (#3186722)
Nothing can hold a candle to the sweet collection of pure ignorami over at the www.usatoday.com comments section. I go there when I need a laugh when I am sick, I've added it to 7-up and cinnamon toast to make me feel better.

All mainstream comments sections teem with idiots, at least as far as sports sites are concerned. There is no finer example of this truth than my employer.
   20. kthejoker Posted: May 21, 2009 at 04:34 PM (#3187831)
Whoa, Dayn - I'm just surprised to hear a writer actually say that about his readers.
   21. villageidiom Posted: May 21, 2009 at 04:47 PM (#3187855)
Whoa, Dayn - I'm just surprised to hear a writer actually say that about his readers.

Outside of newspaper columnists, that is.
   22. Gaylord Perry the Platypus (oi!) Posted: May 21, 2009 at 04:49 PM (#3187858)
Nothing can hold a candle to the sweet collection of pure ignorami over at the www.usatoday.com comments section.

The AJC comments section does not agree with you.

It's full of people who continue to insist that:
1) Jeff Francouer is a very good (at minimum) major league baseball player
2) Mike Vick > Matt Ryan, and if you disagree, you're just a racist
3) Bobby Cox is the worst manager in baseball history
   23. Swoboda is freedom Posted: May 21, 2009 at 04:56 PM (#3187871)
No...a “walk-off Dick” would be nice

Is that like a detachable penis?
   24. Crispix reaches boiling point with lackluster play Posted: May 21, 2009 at 04:59 PM (#3187878)
People who comment on news articles are in no way representative of typical readers of those articles. Even articles about Jeff Ffrancwr. He's not really the most polarizing public figure since Madalyn Murry O'Hair.
   25. Answer Guy Posted: May 21, 2009 at 05:03 PM (#3187882)
The Baltimore Sun comments people are interesting. On the topic of the Orioles, just about everyone (correctly) surmises that the Orioles suck and that the pitchers in particular are terrible. The Raven-woofing going on there is often hilarious, but some of the baseball people seem to know their stuff.

And for some reason the "News" section comments, despite the overall political makeup of the Baltimore metro area (not to mention the _Sun_ itself), consists almost entirely of people who parrot the Rush Limbaugh line on everything. I prefer not to throw accusations of racism around, but a lot of the "local news" comments are really drenched in vile bigotry.

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