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The Proper Term for Deciding a World Cup Match

I love the World Cup. Every four years, nations come together for a truly global sporting event. Since billions of people follow the sport, it truly is a world series, and the winning nation can rightfully be called “world champion” (even if it was France).

How many other sports can be credited with starting a war (between El Salvador and Honduras in 1969) and achieving peace (Ivory Coast’s civil war in 2006)? Few others.

In this tournament, I feel very smart because anybody who asked me during the knockout phase who I liked, I told them Croatia. Luka Modric was a revelation — although if I followed European football a little closer, I would have known about him since he plays for Real Madrid, which just won the UEFA Champions League.

Still, I thoroughly enjoyed the tournament, even getting up early to watch those early-morning matches. The one thing I didn’t enjoy — and never do — is the tiebreak procedure.

I believe the format should follow hockey. If there is a tie after regulation, take your usual 15-minute break, then play 45 more minutes until somebody scores (you can add substitutions if you’d like). Keep doing this until somebody scores, as many 45-minute periods as it takes.

But if you’re going to use the current format, at least call it by its correct name: “Kicks from the Mark.”

The FIFA Laws of the Game make it very clear that is what the procedure is called. It is not called a “shootout” or a “penalty shootout,” as I heard Fox announcers call them over and over again. Only once did I hear somebody say it correctly (I think it was Rob Stone, but I’m not certain).

First, a “penalty kick” is only awarded if a foul punished with a direct free kick occurs in the penalty area. As the tiebreak procedure happens after play concludes, there are no fouls. The word “shootout” does not appear anywhere in the Laws of the Game.

However, players are taking kicks, and they are taking them from that mark 12 yards from the goal line. Hence, kicks from the mark.

The next World Cup is November 2022 in Qatar. Plenty of time to get it right next time.

Until next time! Use the right words!


July 17, 2018 Posted by | Uncategorized | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Only Say What You Can Back Up, Tommy

I’m not a fan of Tommy Lasorda. I find him mean-spirited, petty, two-faced, fat and incredibly phony who lost his teams more games by managing than anyone this side of Gene Mauch (look it up). So, it’s a pleasure for me to call him out.

After the Dodgers won Game 6 of the World Series, Lasorda was heard shouting at Manager Dave Roberts, “You haven’t won (bleep) until you win tomorrow!”

Easy for him to say. Lasorda never managed a Game 7 in the World Series. The 1977, 1978 and 1981 Series each went six games; the 1988 Series went five games.

In fact, only Walter Alston ever managed a Game 7 victory for the Dodgers, and he did it twice. Roberts failed in his first attempt.

Think before you speak, Tommy. Oh, wait. You don’t know how to do that, do you?

Until next time! Use the right words!

November 2, 2017 Posted by | Uncategorized | , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

“Protect the Plate?” Why?

The World Series starts today, and while I would like to write about all the times I got annoyed at people mentioning it has been 108 years since the Cubs won and nobody mentioned that it had been 71 years since the Cubs had even been in it, I’m sticking with word usage.

Today’s baseball-themed topic comes from the softball diamond, but I remember hearing the same words as a Little League Baseball player in my youth: “Protect the plate.”

Typically, when a batter has two strikes on him/her, a coach reminds the batter to “protect the plate,” that is, if the ball is a strike — or if it looks like it will be a strike — swing.

I thought about this today. Home plate is a five-sided slab or rubber set at ground level. What protection does it possibly need, except perhaps 1) to sweep away the excess dirt, 2) stop pitched balls from hitting it, and 3) stop batters from aggressively pounding their bats on it, which leaves discoloration marks?

This is another example of a baseball term that doesn’t mean what it should (see: foul pole). What we really should be saying is, “protect the strike zone.”

It is the strike zone, the space a pitched ball must pass through to be called a strike (if the batter does not swing) that matters. So, don’t protect the plate, protect yourself and swing at a pitch in or near the strike zone.

Now, go Cubs.

Until next time! Use the right words!

October 25, 2016 Posted by | Uncategorized | , , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Sorry, L.A. Times, the Giants are Still Champions

As I’ve written before (and you’ll see it in my book), the Los Angeles Times is a high-quality newspaper. In an era where papers are dying, this one continues to inform, entertain and, occasionally, make mistakes.

This is a subtle one, so I doubt anyone will notify the editors and request a correction. In the Sept. 30, 2015 sports section, the paper dutifully covered the Dodgers winning the National League West division onClayton Kershaw’s one-hitter.

“Retiring the final 19 batters,” one paragraph began, “Kershaw delivered his most dominating performance of the season in what was arguably his most important start, throwing a one-hit shutout to officially end the Giants’ reign as World Series champions.”

Wait a minute here. Just because the Giants were eliminated from the postseason doesn’t mean their reign is over. They are, and will continue to be, the World Series champions until a new team wins it, which will be sometime in late October or early November.

What the article should have said was, “… officially end the Giants’ defense of their World Series championship.”

Understand, I am a Dodger fan, so the Giants winning the World Series is always bad, and being eliminated is always good — and being eliminated by the Dodgers in San Francisco to the tune of 8-0 is really, really good.

But it’s still incorrect to say the reign is over. This is like saying a presidential candidate who wins the election in November is the president on that November day. In truth, he or she doesn’t take office until Jan. 20, so between the first Tuesday after the first Monday in November (Election Day) and Jan. 20, the sitting president remains president.

But at least now I can count the days until the Giants’ reign is over.

Until next time! Use the right words!

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September 30, 2015 Posted by | Uncategorized | , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

For It’s One, Two, Sixteen Yogi-isms…

The baseball postseason is about to begin, and one of the most successful players to ever play in a postseason was Lawrence Berra, better known as Yogi because the way her sat cross-legged resembled a yoga instructor, which is called a yogi (sorry, it had nothing to do with the animated bear, which likely got its name from the baseball player. In fact, Berra sued Hanna-Barbera for defamation but eventually withdrew the suit).

Berra appeared in 21 World Series as a player, coach and manager, winning 13, more than anyone else. Today, he probably is more known for his butchering the English language than for his considerable baseball prowess.

Here are 16 examples of Berra speaking (mostly) grammatically correct sentences that don’t make sense:

1. “It’s like deja vu all over again.”

2. “We made too many wrong mistakes.”

3. “You can observe a lot just by watching.”

4. “A nickel ain’t worth a dime anymore.”

5. “If the world was perfect, it wouldn’t be.”

6. “If you don’t know where you’re going, you might end up someplace else.”

7. “I really didn’t say everything I said.”

8. “The future ain’t what it use to be.”

9. “Nobody goes there anymore because it’s too crowded.”

10. “I always thought that record would stand until it was broken.”

11. “When you come to a fork in the road, take it.”

12. “Always go to other people’s funerals, otherwise they won’t come to yours.”

13. “Never answer anonymous letters.”

14. “Half the lies they tell about me aren’t true.”

15. “It gets late early out there.”

16. “It ain’t over till it’s over.”

Until next time! Use the right words!

September 30, 2014 Posted by | baseball, malapropisms | , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment


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