Reader mail

Dear Tom:

Something for your “I hate cliches” list.

When I was in college, a bunch of folks used to get together to watch old reruns of the Bob Newhart Show (the one where he’s a shrink) and play a drinking game called, “Hi, Bob.” Any time someone said “Bob” on the show meant one of the TV watchers had to take a drink. If someone said “Hi, Bob,” it was two drinks.

Anyway, there is an ESPN sportscaster — Stuart Scott — who has inspired a new generation of the “Hi, Bob” drinking game. For want of a better title, let’s call the game “Stuart Scott Sucks.” Scott has developed a whole series of pet phrases, then proceded to overuse them in such a way they’ve become more old and tired than most cliches.

While airing the day’s sports highlights, Scott might note that someone “must be better because he’s on a roll,” or “is as cool as the other side of the pillow.” He’s got dozens of these things, including one where he drops into the voice of a revival preacher and says “The Lord says you’ve got to rise up,” whenever a team starts a rally.

I recently had some contact with a couple of college campuses and found out there are frats using Stuart Scott’s cliches for a drinking game similar to “Hi, Bob.” When this happens, I believe it’s time to find some new pet phrases.

About the only thing I’ve heard that compares to this, is the bar that played Seinfeld Bingo for the final Seinfeld episode. The bar put together a list of 15 recurring characters (Soup Nazi), 15 pet phrases (New-man), 15 gestures (Kramer coming in a door), 15 guest characters (Keith Hernandez) and 15 episodes (masters of their domains) and gave them all Bingo numbers. They passed out Bingo cards and gave prizes to the players who filled their Bingo cards first as the references appeared in the show’s final episode.

Take care,
Charles Bingham

Juneau Empire sports editor

P.S., I don’t know if you can find it, but in 1988 or 89, USA Today ran a story about a left-handed pitcher for the Philadelphia Phillies named Don Carman. This guy wrote up a list of about 50 sports cliches — “We’re just taking it one game at a time,” “There’s no ‘I’ in team,” etc. — and gave them all numbers. He posted the list above his locker with a note reading, “You saw the game, pick which ones you need.” When some poor scribe caught up to Carman for an interview, he’d answer the writer’s questions with numbers from his list. At least he had fun with it. I believe this took place before the famous scene in Bull Durham where Crash Davis is teaching Nuke Laloosh his cliches.