Theories of sports clichés evolution
By Eric Immerman
Special to Page 2

Before settling on the familiar sayings you hear repeated ad nauseam in locker rooms throughout the world of sports, the authors of today's hackneyed sports clichés drafted these original thoughts.

Nate Newton
Nate Newton misses the days of LPs.
Records are made so Nate Newton can de-seed his pot on the album covers.

[Records are made to be broken.]

A tie is like kissing Babe Didrikson Zaharias.

A tie is like competing to the best of your ability, only to have the contest end in a draw, leaving you frustrated and unsatisfied.

A tie is like the most benign form of incest.

[A tie is like kissing your sister.]

Winning isn't everything ... I mean, a fourth-place finish at the Greater Hartford Open will net you somewhere in the neighborhood of $87,000.

[Winning isn't everything, it's the only thing.]

It ain't over 'til your domineering, emotionally abusive tennis father says it's over!

It ain't over 'til Mel Kiper Jr. is disassembled and placed into a box until next year.

[It ain't over 'til it's over.]

Babe Didrikson
But how do you describe a tie with Babe Didrikson?
You win as a team, you lose as a team, you have sex with Madonna as a team.

You win as a team, you lose as an individual, alone, isolated, ostracized from society, shunned by your teammates, vilified by your hometown fans, reduced to a whimpering shell of your former self, unable to stem the tide of guilt, embarrassment and shame, until you can no longer even summon the strength to get out of bed in the morning, eventually chased from the game you love, left with no choice other than to open a bowling alley in rural Idaho, where, invariably, some customer will recognize you as the individual who lost the game for that team, opening the wounds all over again.

[You win as a team, you lose as a team.]

It's a game of centimeters in Canada, you know, what with the metric system and all.

[It's a game of inches.]

It's not whether you win or lose, it's how you play the game, unless said game is Russian Roulette, in which case it's absolutely imperative that you win.

It's not whether you win or lose, it's how your stats compare to other players at your position, because when it comes time to renegotiate your contract, you -- or, better yet, your agent -- can say, "Hey, my guy has comparable numbers to Giambi, so let's start the discussion at $15 million per."

[It's not whether you win or lose, it's how you play the game.]

There's no "I" in "Unselfish." Oh ... wait ... yes, there is, dammit.

There's no "I" in "Team," unless, of course, you are using the Spanish word for team, equipo.
[There's no "I" in "Team."]

Yogi Berra
Unfortunately, many of Yogi Berra's comments have become cliché
*90 percent of the game is 60 percent obsessively compulsively adjusting your batting gloves and 30 percent trying desperately to remove the weighted donut from your bat.

*90 percent of the game is half filler; seriously, there's like 12 minutes of actual action in a football game, I timed it once on my Casio wristwatch.

[90 percent of the game is half mental.]

Offense wins games in the Pac-10, not that anyone's noticing with the pervasive East Coast media bias.

[Offense wins game; defense wins championships.]

John Elway
John Elway. handing off to Floyd Little, usually snatched victory from others' bicuspids.
It ain't over 'til the Fat Lady inadvertently sits on your kid's bobblehead doll.

[It ain't over 'til the Fat Lady sings.]

We snatched victory from the bicuspids of John Elway; man, that guy is all teeth.

[We snatched victory from the jaws of defeat.]

My guaranteed contract has desensitized me to the point where I'm genuinely apathetic as to the game's outcome.

[You win some; you lose some.]

    * -- First draft of Yogi-ism

Eric Immerman is a contributing comedy writer to ESPN The Magazine and "The Late Late Show with Craig Kilborn." His material has been featured on, and he is the creator and writer of, a now defunct online newspaper devoted to sports parodies and satire. He can be reached at


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