Thursday, July 31, 2014

Plaque buildup

Only one percent of the men who ever wound up playing major league baseball also wound up in the Baseball Hall of Fame in Cooperstown, New York,  a town which was not, as is commonly believed, named for author James Fenimore Cooper, but, rather, his father, Judge William Cooper, who founded the sleepy town in 1786.

Only one percent of the people who see recent inductee Greg Maddux's plaque at the HOF will object to the grammar violations contained thereupon, so that's how that goes.  People often tell me that grammar is an ever-evolving thing, fungible and protean.  Well, they don't put it that way, exactly.  What I hear is, "Everybody talks this way, so shove it!"

As fans of excellent woodwork enjoy seeing perfectly-dovetailed joints in a cabinet, as lovers of fine cooking oooh and aaah for the perfect soufflĂ©, as admirers of beauty relish the very sight of a sunrise over a field of lavender, so do I adulate a well-turned phrase, a perfectly-constructed paragraph, a book that I will re-read just for the experience of wading in the words the author chose.  I'm not saying this is for everyone.  If you're happy with John Grisham or James Redfield, fine!

But look at the Maddux plaque.  "Preparation, command and study of batters made him part-scientist, part-artist, winning..."  A part-scientist would be someone involved in the scientific study of parts! A part-artist would be someone making art of parts!   This overuse of hyphens is like the signs on certain auto shops lettered "ALL-TYPES-REPAIR'S   MECHANIC-ON-DUTY" or the one around the corner from us: "FIREWOOD-FOR SALE."  A dash is supposed to be used to set off parenthetical sentence elements, not as a spacer between words. 

And also, as Mr Olbermann said, the look on Mr Maddux's face on the plaque is like the look he'd have if someone walked up and said his car was on fire outside.  

The Hall of Fame will have to do better by the time Adam Jones is inducted!

1 comment:

JimInPcola said...

Maddux may be the only HOF (or is it H-O-F?) recipient in history to work in a fart joke as a part of his speech, but by gosh, the crafty one got it done with style.