By Mark Smith
Editor in Chief
Ah, the cliché — one of my biggest peeves in sports “journalism.”
I try to avoid them like the plague.
See what I did there?
And yes, those are back-to-back clichés. But if you regularly watch SportsCenter, listen to sports radio or read sports pages, you probably just read right through both. You’re probably too used to them.
I don’t have the time today, and there’s not enough space — even on a website — to start listing the worst or worst offenders, but they are all around us, folks.
Of course, at the end of the day, you should know that anything can happen in a short column.
Wait for it….. See what I did there, again?
Wait for it? I cringe even using it as a joke.
I think that’s my new No. 1 in the worst of the worst.
However, there are so many others that truly make my skin crawl. Near the top of the list: the over-used, trite and simply incorrect “walk-off homer.”
As bad as that is, it’s found its way into the mouths and keyboards of cliche, media mopes everywhere as “walk-off single, walk-off double, walk-off triple, walk-off error,” etc.
Actually, I’ve never seen a winning team simply “walk off” the field after a teammate rips a solo homer in a 4-3 victory. Even the guy who hits it still has to run or trot around the bases. Unless it’s David Ortiz.
And those teammates who just won because of a “walk-off” hit?
Don’t they usually run to the plate to celebrate before walking off the field?
And then there’s the little matter of every other play that ends a baseball game. Isn’t the third out of the final inning a “walk-off” win for the team in the field?
“It’s a deep blast to center. Mike Trout races to the warning track — and makes a great catch! Trout delivers a sensational walk-off fly out, and the Angels hang on to win 8-7!”
Shoot, Louisiana had a walk-off liner to short to win the Little League World Series on Sunday. I sure didn’t see any of those kids walking off the field.
However, the Mensa media misfits haven’t simply obliterated “walk-off” in baseball. They have dragged it into just about every other sport as well. Look and listen. You’ll read or hear about walk-off hockey goals, walk-off penalty kicks and walk-off extra points.
Extra points? Really?
Sound the alarm and strike up the band!
Yep, worst of the worst are the clichés that filter down through the ranks — while getting misused until they sound mindless.
With that, I present the “High School Emergency Quarterback.”
On Friday afternoon, a fan of the website sent me a note about Volcano Vista’s 36-25 victory over defending state champion La Cueva the night before, and how the Hawks clinched it with “an emergency quarterback.”
An emergency quarterback? In high school?
What—is the kid also a medic? Is he in charge of calling 911 if a teammate is knocked cold? Or did Hawks coach Chad Wallin call a member of the band out of the stands to dress out and get on the field?
What on earth is an “emergency quarterback” in prep football?
I immediately knew where that must have come. I went right to the Journal sports page, knowing doggone well what I’d see. Yep, the jump headline: “Emergency QB helps VVHS defeat Bears.”
My reaction was exactly the same as when I heard Joe Biden tell reporters in New Hampshire how much he loved being in Vermont.
I literally put my hand over my eyes and chuckled.
Volcano Vista starting quarterback Diego Pavia was injured in the fourth quarter and his backup, Johnny Herrera — who like most in prep football plays other positions — had also been injured in the game.
So the Hawks had to turn to senior cornerback Nate Sanchez, the No. 3 quarterback who had played the position as a freshman and sophomore and shined at the freshman and junior varsity levels.
But last year, the Hawks featured superstar QB and 2018 graduate Jake Deatherage, and now have another star in Pavia. It didn’t look like Sanchez would be taking many snaps this season, but it’s not exactly an emergency when he’s under center.
Unless of course, Nusenda Community Stadium was simultaneously struck by an asteroid.
See, there is no such thing as an emergency quarterback in high school ball. Or at any level, for that matter. A coach may refer to someone that way for kicks, but its only something from the NFL’s past — and is now only used as a cliché.
Unlike high school — or even college — the NFL has rules about roster size, and only 46 can be suited out on game day. Prior to 2011, it was 45 players, But a 46th could suit up as “an emergency quarterback.” However, there were rules governing what would happen to the starting QB and backup if the emergency quarterback played.
The rule was abolished in 2011.
There never has been any such rule about “emergency quarterbacks” in college or high school, where rosters are limitless.
I can’t imagine there ever will be.
Unless a coach wants to use the phrase in jest.
Or if an overly dramatic sports writer reaches deep into his bag of very-worst clichés.
Either way, I am certainly relieved the Volcano Vista band didn’t have to play one member short in the fourth quarter.
NO KID-DING: I didn’t feel quite the embarrassment seeing this photo of UNM’s Football Youth Day as I did seeing the aforementioned headline, but it certainly reminded me of Joe Biden again.
It certainly appears that Mayor Tim Keller is doing his best to hold a Cadaver Joe-sized rally at UNM Stadium.
Zoom in and check the expression on the kids’ faces.
“Jeez dad, I just spent all week sitting in classrooms on 100-degree days and listening to teachers. Now I have to listen to this guy? It’s still summer! Can’t I go play?”
Mark Smith has worked in New Mexico sports media for more than four decades and is one of the most decorated sports journalists in state history. Smith has won more than 30 combined awards in print, television and radio. He is the editor in chief of Enchantment Sports. Contact him at mark.enchantmentsportsNM@gmail.com.