With more and more professional sports events being televised, I’m drawn back to the fun of the language. “It’s a make-or-miss league,” NBA announcers and players will wisely inform us when a game-deciding shot attempt falls or fails. But when people everywhere on the planet shoot the ball, they want it to go in. Sometimes it does. Sometimes it doesn’t. It’s a make-or-miss proposition in every game in every league ever organized. So to say it’s a make-or-miss league is to say it’s basketball. That’s a reasonable cliché worth a chuckle or two, especially if you’re prostate challenged without the greatest aim. “Hey, it’s a make-or-miss league.”
Golf announcers aren’t as fanciful. They’re generally content to proclaim “that’s golf” to explain all the ups and downs of the game. An alligator can crawl onto a fairway in South Carolina and swallow a ball and the player, and the announcers will explain stoically, “that’s golf.” They have to save their energy for other clichés like “it’s hard to follow a really low round with another one.” My people, that’s because any really low round is hard to find. Nasa Hataoka is the best scorer on the LPGA and PGA tours at a shade under 68, the only major pro golfer under 68. If anyone shoots a 61, the law of averages weighs heavily against that person doing it again the next day. It’s not because there’s something particularly difficult about following a special round with a special round but because a special round, say 61, is hard to come by in the first place. You’ll just have to accept this in life. It’s hard to have your greatest day the day after your greatest day.
Perhaps the Big Cat brings out the most amusing adage of golf announcers, though spoken with such reverence and solemnity: “Tiger Woods really hates making bogey.” Really? Every pro golfer is genetically modified to abhor bogeys, Woods no more than any other. But if announcers know it, they treat it as their little secret. They’ll remind us that Tiger especially hates to three-putt a green, a very popular way to make bogey. All I can say is make that second putt, TW. It’s a make-or-miss league.
My Mets by Any View
I haven’t followed much baseball yet, just know the hometown New York Mets are 2 games under .500. At least that’s the way I calculate a record of 7 wins and 11 losses. A 50-50 split would be a record of 9 wins and 9 losses. The team is 2 games worse than that. That’s how the math works for me and, really, for baseball. But baseball language works differently. The announcers say that the Mets are 4 games below .500. I guess they mean the team would need to win 4 straight to get to .500. I see the logic, but my language is based on actual games played. And it sounds better to me. But whatever the language, you sons, grandsons, and great-grandsons of Citi Field, Shea Stadium, and the Polo Grounds, need to get it together. It’s a win-or-lose league.
It seems we’ll be spared maybe the worst sports metaphor for a while. Football games are not wars. A fumble recovery, beaten pass coverage, interception, or field goal is not an act of war. Michigan and Alabama won’t be missing wars this fall, although their coaches appear to want to wage one against public health officials. But they should know what COVID-19 knows. It’s a make-or-miss league.