You wanna know what bugs me? People who fling around superlatives like they have no meaning.
Example 1: Greg Anthony, a former NBA player and now a basketball analyst on ESPN, was asked who he thought would win the Western Conference Finals series between the San Antonio Spurs and the Utah Jazz. In (correctly) predicting that the Spurs would win, Anthony said, “Not that the Jazz haven’t had an unbelievable season — they have — but…” and then went on to explain why the Spurs would win. I’m sorry, Greg, but what exactly is “unbelievable” about going 51-31? Sure, they had a good season. I’d even go so far as to say that they did significantly better than they were expected to do. But unbelievable? Not unless you have a VERY weird standard of believability.
Example 2: On May 26, Manny Ramirez had a great game, going 4-for-4 and having a key hit in the game-winning rally. In the ESPN.com article about the game, Red Sox third baseman Mike Lowell had this to say:
Manny really looks like he’s in a groove. When he’s stinging the baseball like that, when he’s going up the middle, that’s when he’s the most dangerous. It seems like he’s done nothing so far, but he’s still on pace to have a great season.
So Mike Lowell said Manny was on pace to have a “great” season. Now, where I come from, “great” means “really, really good.” In fact, A-Rod proved last season that even a season that would be considered great by normal standards can be considered less-than-great when compared to an individual’s past performance. I certainly think that Manny Ramirez would fall in that same category, having averaged 40 homers and 127 RBIs a year over the past nine seasons (not to mention his .314 career batting average and 1.006 career OPS). So let’s take a look at Manny’s season as of May 26 and see if Mike Lowell was correct. At that point in time, Manny was on pace for:
–24 home runs
–.272 batting average
All four of those numbers would be far lower than Manny has put up in any full season in the Majors, and none of them really stand out as “great” even for an average player. Simply put, Manny was NOT, on May 26, “on pace to have a great season.” I’m just sayin’.
Example 3: On my brother’s website, he has a recurring feature called “Children’s Letters to Raven-Symone.” I won’t go into too many details; suffice it to say that Eric gets lots of emails from people who think he is Raven-Symone, and he publishes some of the funny ones. A recent edition included this tidbit from a letter:
I am of Spain i and seen your video of the cheetah girls a good pile of times
Lots of people enjoyed the phrase “a good pile of times,” and for good reason. But one commenter said this:
“I am of Spain” is quite possibly the greatest thing I’ve ever read.
For real? The second-best thing in that sentence is the greatest thing you have ever read? We all have different standards for greatness, but I feel safe in stating that this guy’s standard is all sort of screwed up.
Example 4: This one is only tangentially related, but I’m putting it here anyway. People on the Internet (at least the corners of the Internet I frequent) have a tendency, when they read a clever or funny phrase, to say something along the lines of, “I need to remember to use that.” (In the previously cited Reven-Symone blog entry, Eric himself did it when he said, “In other news, ‘a good pile of times’ is my new favorite figure of speech.” He even used the phrase in his very next humor column, when he said, “I’d been to this place a good pile of times for various reasons and had never seen the same doctor twice.”) I don’t really mind that; in fact, I am often incorporating things into my regular vocabulary that I read somewhere, either in a book or in a magazine or on the Internet.
But sometimes it just doesn’t make sense. Case in point: on my message board, there was a discussion about the latest Harry Potter book (caution: SPOILERS in that link), and one fellow said this about the word “Horcruxiness,” which another poster had just created:
…Horcruxiness (a great word, by the way, and one that I need to find a way to incorporate in my everyday life)…
So let me get this straight: you are going to find a way to discuss a very specific aspect of the Harry Potter books every day, just so you can use a made-up word? That seems a bit overboard to me. I guess if you wanted to incorporate it into every discussion you have about Harry Potter and Horcruxes, okay. But your everyday life? I don’t think so.
So there you have it: four (or three) examples of something that bugs me. Enjoy.