Saturday, September 1, 2012

Etymology - Walk Off.

       I like words.  I am surprised it took me so long to start a blog. If you ever meet me, you will tell me to shut up at least twice an hour.  I have started (and stalled) at penning about half a dozen novels.  Not only do I enjoy words, but I like their origins and their archaic meanings and what not.  On top of all that, I am what the kids call a "grammar nazi" (of course, the kids only say that because they are too lazy to actually learn how to spell and proofread properly *shakes cane*).  Even my text messages and facebook updates are written to strict AP Stylebook standards.  The point is, I am the type who when "irregardless" or "very unique" are used, my internal temperature rises and I cannot keep silent.  I am stickler for detail when it comes to language - if only I could be in the rest of my everyday endeavors.  Which leads us to the point of this diatribe: the awful misuse of the the term "walk off" by most baseball announcers and analysts.

This misuse comes from, I believe, a lack of understanding of its origin; to wit, the term comes from Hall of Famer Dennis Eckersley.

Eckersley has a unique grasp of the English language.  He turns a phrase and then twists it into a mobius strip.  Sometimes it gets so bad, you need an Eckersley-to-English dictionary to listen to him speak.  Anyone who heard his post-game interviews or his color commentary on Sox games knows this all too well.  His most famous piece of phraseology over time has become, of course, "Walk Off" which refers to the act of giving up a game winning hit.  But it is the defense that walks off the field after such a hit, not the offense.  The offense (usually) comes on the field and celebrates.  But to hear most baseball announcers or ESPN talking heads say it, the batter "Walks off" or the home team "Walks off" and that is just undeniably incorrect.  Eckersley was referring to putting his head down and dejectedly walking off the mound.  When you talk it through, that makes perfect sense, him being a top flight relief pitcher for so long.  Besides, the winning team is obviously too excited to do any sort of walking.  So please, if you use this term, please use it properly.  And if you hear an announcer misuse it, throw something at the screen and tweet them a link to this post.


night owl said...

Ugh ... I hate the term "walk-off" just for this very reason.

I'm not as sticklerish as you though as I'll use it in copy just because it's such a common, familiar term that people know. I also don't correct people in their grammar, although when they say stupid stuff like "very unique" I hope they know that they sound like an absolute moron.

Ahab said...

Oh how I hate the term "walk-off." It's a boring term for an exciting event, it doesn't add any information (if it's a game winner in the bottom of the 9th or later you already know), and worst of all, they say it Every Single Time It Can Possibly Be Used. Get a thesaurus. Give it a rest!