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Monday, May 24, 2010

The Sports Cliche: Version 2.0

Posted By on 05.24.10 at 10:31 AM

I came into work Monday and found some newspaper clippings on my chair. Passages had been circled.

From Tribune hockey writer Chris Kuc on May 19: "The Hawks hold a commanding 2-0 lead in the best-of-seven series."

From the Associated Press in the same day's Tribune sports pages: "Paul Pierce scored 28 points, Rajon Rondo had 25 and the Celtics again avoided a late collapse to take a commanding lead in the Eastern Conference finals." That lead, if you're wondering, was 2-0.

From the Tribune front page the next day: "Chicago's Point Man / Blackhawks captain Jonathan Toews leads all NHL scorers in the postseason with 23 points and has led his team to a commanding 2-0 lead in the Western Conference finals."

Attached to these clippings was a Post-it note on which was written: "Mike, please make them stop this."

Sure, and why not reverse the Big Bang while I'm at it? I Googled the phrase "commanding 2-0 lead" and got back about 108,000 results — too many to think about. So I clicked on Google news for the latest batch, and read recent dispatches of command seized:

"Hawks take commanding 2-0 lead over Sharks."

"The Boston Celtics have a commanding 2-0 lead over the Orlando magic."

"The Czechs took a commanding 2-0 lead late in the second period."

Command anticipated:

"The Phoenix Suns will try to take a commanding 2-0 lead in their Western Conference semifinal..."

"Not only can the surging Celtics take a commanding 2-0 lead in the Eastern Conference finals..."

And command overthrown:

"In my opinion, Dirk’s career with the Mavs hit its biggest downfall when his team failed to finish off the Miami Heat in the 2006 NBA Finals despite having a commanding 2-0 lead in the series."

Because you're probably wondering, I then Googled "commanding 3-0 lead" and got back about 367,000 results. For instance, the same Chris Kuc reported after Chicago's 3-2 overtime victory against the San Jose Sharks Friday night that the Hawks "kept things simple to take a commanding 3-0 lead in the best-of-seven series."

As we had it on Kruc's own authority that the Hawks took command with their second win, perhaps other language should have been employed here, such as the Hawks "tightened their grip" or "further consolidated their hold on the levers of power" or "advanced their brutal refashioning of the NHL's Western Conference in the post-Red Wings era." Something that hasn't been written 367,000 times already.

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