Friday, November 29, 2013

A Man Possessed

Why the apostrophe and the s following Taylor in the second clause? We could have made do with "Taylor made two..."

Without delving too deep into grammatical jargon, let me point out that the noun, Tyshawn Taylor, initiated the action and should be in the nominative case. It's written in the possessive case, which would have been appropriate if it were showing ownership.

In the sentence that follows, Taylor is in the nominative case and Taylor's is in the possessive case.

Taylor made two free throws, and Taylor's two free throws clinched the victory.

Now that you possess this knowledge, I nominate you to spread the word about the "best case" scenario.

Wednesday, November 27, 2013

No Icing on This Cake

Are all of my readers familiar with icing? I'm not talking about the sugar-based frosting on cakes, cookies and other baked goods. I'm referring to the hockey term. Icing occurs when a player shoots the puck from behind the red line at center ice and it crosses the opposing goal line. It's considered a delaying tactic, and if an opposing player touches the puck first, the game is stopped and a face-off takes place in the offending team's defensive zone.

Icing is a minor infraction, as is the one that has occurred in this blurb. The writer raced through his assignment and, in doing so, iced a couple of words. The sentence, like a hockey team with one or more players in the penalty box, is shorthanded. We're skating on thin ice if we fail to include than after rather and the before puck.

It's a shame the writer didn't omit another word. He would have registered a hat trick, in hockey lingo.

Monday, November 25, 2013

You May Be Right (But You're Not)

A pull-quote, which is a short text passage pulled from an article and quoted in a larger typeface, is a common design element in magazines and newspapers. It's used to add visual interest, emphasize a portion of text or draw the reader's attention.

This pull-quote about Tiger Woods in Sports Illustrated certainly drew my attention. Maybe it'll appeal to you, too. I may be wrong.

In the (altered) words of Billy Joel...

You may be right
I may be crazy
But it just may be a "may be" you're looking for

In the body of the article (see image below), Sports Illustrated was as accurate as a Tiger Woods drive circa 2000, using may be. The magazine shanked its pull-quote, however, changing may be to maybe.

When do we use maybe? When do we use may be? It can be tricky, but maybe we can fix that.

Maybe (one word) is an adverb meaning perhaps. If you can substitute the word perhaps, maybe is the right choice. 

May be is a two-word verb phrase showing possibility. It's similar to "might be."


1. Maybe I'll ask Jennifer Love Hewitt out on a date. Maybe she'll say yes. (Editor's note: We could substitute perhaps for maybe in both spots.)

2. I may be upset if she turns me down. She may be making a big mistake. (Editor's note: We could substitute "might be" for may be in both spots.)

Has this helped? Yes? No? Maybe?

Friday, November 22, 2013

A Hunger for Katniss

Fans of Suzanne Collins' dystopian trilogy in which children are forced to fight to the death on television devoured the first novel, The Hunger Games, in days, if not hours. I'm sure the eagle-eyed Katniss Everdeen worshippers among them will have no trouble spotting the error in this blurb from a USA Today article about the movie version of the book.

If you've targeted the third word on the paragraph's seventh line with the last arrow in your quiver, you've nailed it. I bow to you for your expert bow work.

The writer and editor are Catching Fire today for misspelling the first name of the trilogy's heroine, played on the big screen by Jennifer Lawrence. Against its will, an s from District 12 has been uprooted and forced to participate in the name of the Games. It's fighting for its survival, but I don't foresee a happy ending.

Blame it on the Capitol!

Wednesday, November 20, 2013

Board Silly

When it comes to Wilt Chamberlain, what number impresses you most? If you’re vertically challenged, it might be his height: 85 inches. If you’re most familiar with Wilt Chamberlain, lothario, it’s likely the more than 20,000 women he claimed to have bedded. If you know him as Wilt Chamberlain, basketball player, it’s probably the 100 points he scored in a single game, in 1962. I’d argue it’s the 27.2 rebounds, or boards, he averaged per game during the 1960-61 season. No NBA player in the past 40 years has averaged even 20. In a game against the Boston Celtics that season, Chamberlain pulled down an NBA-record 55 rebounds. Fifty-five! Amazing!

Or so I thought.

Late one night Chris, a friend and former college roommate, sent me a link to an old article about the top 50 basketball players from our alma mater. At No. 18 on the rundown from Bleacher Report, a sports website, was Andrew DeClercq, a hustling big man who helped the University of Florida “find a way”* to the Final Four in 1994 before spending a decade in the NBA.

In the annals of college basketball, DeClercq, the chairman of the boards, has gotten DeShaft. He grabbed 958 rebounds a game! Even on his best day, Chamberlain managed only 5.7 percent of DeClercq’s average. Why is DeClercq not in the Hall of Fame? Why is he not mentioned in the same breath as Chamberlain and Bill Russell?

I’ll tell you why: DeClercq had 958 total rebounds in his four-year career, which lasted 128 games. That’s a per-game average of 7.5. When “a game” is inserted, DeClercq’s per-game mark jumps 950.5 rebounds. Yikes. I hope the Bleacher Report writer rebounds from this error.

Chris and I were teammates on the Ruthless Posse, a UF intramural basketball team, in the ‘90s. In four seasons together, we failed to win an intramural tournament title. In hindsight, our lack of success is attributable to Chris, a frontcourt player. Had he grabbed 958 rebounds a game — heck, had he slacked off and pulled in only half that amount — we’d have multiple intramural trophies in our cases today.

* Fans of the 1993-94 Florida team will understand why I chose this particular phrase.

Monday, November 18, 2013

Not Now!

Now and then, I have pizza for dinner. Last night I ordered one with my go-to topping, bacon. The doughy, cheesy, meaty contents of this box were quite tasty. The box itself, however, failed to deliver.

A certain three-letter word doesn't deserve its own punctuation. It's but one piece of a four-word sentence. That exclamation point following NOW is at the wrong point in this box-top sentence. In its current position, it's pointless — any way you slice it.

So, thinking outside the box, I suggest we put that emphatic punctuation mark where it belongs: at the end of the sentence. Let's do it. Now!

Friday, November 15, 2013

Comma vs. No Comma

You may not want to challenge Baylor and its imposing center, but this opening sentence must be challenged. Why the comma after Sims? You never place a comma between a subject (even a lengthy compound subject) and a linking verb. I, am right.

Wednesday, November 13, 2013

A Twin Killing

FAST FACT: One of the hockey-playing identical twins referred to in this Sports Illustrated poll did not have his name spelled correctly. Oh, brother!

Daniel's sibling is Henrik. You got it right the first time, SI, but on the very next line — directly below Henrik — you gave us Hendrik. Why? The name remains the same. It remains — you guessed it — identical.

Monday, November 11, 2013

That's Nate Right!

As this article states, Portland fired Nate McMillan. The other members of the "firing squad," according to the story, are Paul Westphal, Flip Saunders and Mike D'Antoni. Counting aloud, I come up with four fired coaches. [Owen looks at his hand, muttering to himself.] Just double-checked my math. Yep, it's four.

So, what's with the caption? Is McMillan the third or fourth coach to be fired? The numbers don't mesh.

Turns out, the caption is correct. The article, therefore, must come under fire.

When McMillan, of the Trail Blazers, was fired, he hit the trail blazed by Westphal and Saunders, who were given the pink slip two months earlier. But the writer fired blanks when he listed D'Antoni as a canned coach. Pull him out of the fire! D'Antoni was not fired. He resigned. That revelation sparked today's post.

Note to readers: I will not be blogging tomorrow, 11/12/13, but you can, ahem, count on a new post for Wednesday. 

Friday, November 8, 2013

Go Long!

I suppose it’s possible, with an unprecedented run of penalties, for a football team to be in a 1st-and-99situation. Possible, but highly unlikely. Even if a team is penalized or sacked, it rarely has to go more than 20-something yards to get a first down.

You won’t be surprised, then, to learn that Florida, my alma mater, did not face 1st and 99 in a recent game against LSU. It was a graphic tease, if you will, and I wish the person in charge had treated 99 like a wild animal and kept his distance. To be fair, because my beloved Gators have a conservative, boring R2-P22 offense, with its affinity for RUM3 and disinclination to work the forward pass into the game plan, at times 1st and 10 can feel like 1st and 99. (Did somebody break into the Florida football offices? The team’s playbook is missing its “Passing” chapter.)

I’ve popped the idea of 1st and 99 like a luftballon, but if any team knows about a l-o-n-g down and distance, it’s my team.

Can comedy and horror coexist? They can. They did, back in September 2000. Undefeated Florida, ranked third nationally, faced unranked Mississippi State in Starkville, Mississippi. Trailing 31-23 early in the final quarter, the Gators had a first down at midfield. Center David Jorgensen snapped the ball and, like a speech bubble or umbrella, it went over quarterback Rex Grossman’s head. Grossman tried unsuccessfully to pick it up before falling on it at the 21-yard line — loss of 29. It was déjà vu on second down; Jorgensen sailed another ball over Grossman’s head on a play the announcer equated to something out of The Twilight Zone. Grossman recovered the ball but was tackled at the 3-yard line before he could get off a pass — loss of 18.

In the span of two plays, the Gators went from 1st and 10 to 3rd and 57. Fifty-seven! Knowing it’d require a minor miracle to convert under such extreme circumstances, Florida coach Steve Spurrier backed down on third down. Grossman took the snap and ran out the back of the end zone for a safety. Florida lost 47-35, snapping a 72-game winning streak against unranked opponents that was the nation’s longest at the time.

You can watch Florida go the distance — or attempt to, anyway — in the YouTube video below. If you’re a Gators fan, be forewarned: The video contains suggestive teams, violent snaps, partial abnormality, strong ineffectual content, graphic ineptitude — the whole nine(ty-nine) yards. It may cause depression, hair loss, headaches, nausea, night terrors, Tourette’s syndrome or severe trauma. Proceed at your own risk.

The comedy of errors was a horror show that made Cujo look like Air Bud. It’s not every day, after all, that a team needs to gain 57 yards — more than half a football field — to get a first down. The longest distance you’ll see in a typical game is, as I mentioned in the opening paragraph, 20-something yards. Distances in the 30s and 40s do occur, though rarely, and we know 57 is possible. But 99?

That’s a first.

1 Actually, the longest possibility would be 1st and 98 — you could be at your own 1-yard line and need to get to the other 1-yard line for a first down. If you needed to get 99 yards from your own 1-yard line, it’d technically be a 1st-and-goal situation.

2 Years ago I coined the term R2-P2. It stands for run-run-pass-punt, a predictable and unimaginative approach taken by many football teams. R2-P2 is offensive anemia. I’ll break it down for you: On first down, Florida runs, usually for little or no gain. On second down, Florida runs again … usually for little or no gain. On 3rd-and-long, against a defense that knows what’s coming and often blitzes, Florida attempts to pass. On fourth down, following an incomplete pass or a sack on third down, Florida punts. R2-D2 worked his magic countless times; R2-P2 doesn’t work.

3 Not only are R2-P2 teams enamored with running on first and second down; they often prefer RUM — running up the middle. RUM works as often as goats during a government shutdown4, yet it’s the go-to play for many teams. You could say that teams that indulge their taste for RUM have a serious drinking problem. So might some of the fans forced to watch said teams. A ground-and-pound team that runs (and runs and runs and runs) up the gut can do irreparable damage to a fan’s liver.

4 When the U.S. federal government shut down last month, approximately 25 hungry goats at the Gateway National Recreation Area in Sandy Hook, New Jersey, lost their “jobs.” The herd, which was clearing invasive poison ivy at the park, was sent home to Upstate New York.

Wednesday, November 6, 2013

Let's Play Two!

Last season Alabama and LSU, two of the nation’s top college football teams, played on Nov. 3. Despite the “this game’s so nice, let’s play it twice” declaration in the TV listings pictured below, no Round 2 was scheduled for five days later. The only way the Crimson Tide and Tigers would have played again on Nov. 8 is if the game were an instant classic that aired on the fittingly named ESPN Classic. In a sense, it was: Alabama’s quarterback, AJ McCarron, shook off a terrible second half to lead his team down the field when it mattered most, tossing a 28-yard touchdown with less than a minute remaining to give the top-ranked Crimson Tide a 21-17 road victory against the fifth-ranked Tigers. LSU was stunned. McCarron was overcome. He sobbed on the bench and, when the game ended, rushed into the arms of his dad, who was in the stands. Alabama proceeded to win its second straight national title and third in four seasons.

Your only opportunity to watch these two powerhouse programs clash this season comes when Alabama hosts LSU this Saturday, Nov. 9, at 8 p.m. ET on CBS. I urge you not to take five … days, that is. If you tune in at 8 p.m. on Nov. 14, you’ll see a new episode of The Big Bang Theory titled “The Itchy Brain Simulation” in which Penny (Kaley Cuoco) confronts Raj’s (Kunal Nayyar) ex-girlfriend, Lucy (Kate Micucci).

College football is my favorite sport. The Big Bang Theory is my favorite current show. On my TV calendar, therefore, Nov. 9 and Nov. 14 are hot dates. I go from football to photons. From a physical game to physical science. From receivers in motion to particles in motion. From Alabama-LSU to Caltech.


By the way, actress Kate Micucci is also one half of the comedic folk-rock duo Garfunkel and Oates, and she co-wrote the sweet, clever love song “If I Didn’t Have You (Bernadette’s Song)” that Howard (Simon Helberg) performed on the Oct. 24 episode called “The Romance Resonance.” You can check out Howard’s romantic gesture below and, if interested, download the song from iTunes or The ode to Bernadette has been released in support of the charity MusiCares.

Remember: If you want to see Alabama play LSU, Nov. 14 is five days late. Only one game is on the slate, so don’t wait. Mark the date.

Too much rhyming?

Don’t hate.

Monday, November 4, 2013

The Richardson Get Richardsoner

In 1962, the New York Mets had two Bob Millers on the roster. Both were pitchers — one lefty, one righty. In 2000, the Mets were at it again, with Bobby Jones and Bobby Jones on the pitching staff. One Jones was a lefty; the other was a righty. I’m guessing these same names created some “double trouble,” which leads me to today’s error…

A Daryl bio in Trent's section
To prep for his 2013 fantasy football draft and get an edge on his competition, my college buddy Garth Brooks purchased Fantasy Football CheatSheets, a magazine chock-full of stats, rankings, trends and so forth.

The fantasy magazine ranked Trent Richardson in the top 10 among running backs, which I considered a stretch, but it inarguably lost touch with reality during Richardson’s write-up. The bio is not about Trent; it’s about Daryl Richardson, a fellow 2012 rookie. Trent, a bruising back out of Alabama, was the No. 3 pick in the NFL draft. Daryl, who possesses more breakaway speed than Trent, attended Abilene Christian and was the second-to-last pick in the seven-round draft.

A different Daryl bio in Daryl's section
Oddly enough, the text about Daryl in Trent’s section isn’t repeated in Daryl’s section, where it should be located. Odder still, no text about Trent exists in Daryl’s section. (Still with me?) Daryl has a different write-up in his section — about Daryl. You’d think the magazine would accidentally publish Daryl’s text twice or publish Daryl’s text in Trent’s section and vice versa. Nope. Instead, Daryl gets treated like an All-Pro receiver and merits double coverage, while Trent is uncovered. Daryl has two different bios — one erroneously placed in Trent’s section — and Trent has none. If you’re keeping score, that’s Rams 2, Browns 0. Safety.

Trent? Daryl? T? D? TD? No chance. The touchdown has been overturned upon further review. I’d like to thank Garth for noticing the illegal substitution and for supplying today’s photos. Thanks, Garth! Wait, wait, wait! I’ve been referring all along to Garth Brooks. I meant Chris Brooks. You can understand my confusion. Thanks, Chris!

Friday, November 1, 2013

More Trouble for Jar Jar

Can you spot the minor mishap in this excerpt from an Entertainment Weekly article about, ahem, everyone's favorite Star Wars character, Jar Jar Binks?

Me-sa an editor, and me-sa tink dat "a odd-looking alien" looks odd.

What's odd is that article a, which should be an because it precedes a vowel sound. As written, the phrase is as odd sounding as the floppy-eared Gungan with bulbous eyes that resemble the pop-up headlights on a Porsche 928 is odd looking.

Hasn't poor Jar Jar been through enough? The computer-generated character, created to provide comic relief, bore the brunt of harsh criticism, negative feedback and unkind reviews for his performances in the prequel trilogy. Now the clumsy Gungan has had his head ridiculed, and, oddly enough, the writer couldn't even use the proper article.

How wude!

                                Jar Jar
Porsche 928