It’s a joyful moment burdened by a terrible name. It’s a cascade of emotions for the winning players and their fans, yet it’s described in the most negative way. Johnny Damon, after a home run giving the Yankees their third straight come-from-behind win over the Twins, gets a pie in the face and here’s how it’s portrayed.
A “walk-off home run.”
Is there any more of a buzz kill? Should a face full of whipped cream and gleeful celebration be defined in terms of the losers? . . . Imagine if the glorious moments in baseball had been treated this way. “Branca throws,” Russ Hodges said of Bobby Thomson’s at-bat on Oct. 3, 1951, when the Giants met the Dodgers in the NL playoff. Imagine if Hodges had added, “There’s long drive — it’s gonna be, I believe — a walk-off home run!” Instead, we remember his exuberant description, “The Giants win the pennant! The Giants win the pennant!”
Imagine if Jack Buck, on Kirk Gibson’s home run against Eckersley and the A’s in the 1988 World Series (off Eckersley, by the way) had said, “Gibson swings … This is gonna be a walk-off home run. I don’t believe what I just saw!”
Except I can’t ever remember an announcer using the phrase “walk-off” contemporaneously with the home run in question. Announcers either have their own home run calls or else they say “it’s outta here” or “its gone” or what have you. The phrase “walk-off ___” is almost always a post-game wrapup show or a wire report game story phenomenon, and as far as those things go, cliches are the order of the day. And as Steve Hirdt of the Elias Sports Bureau notes in the article itself, at least the term is concise and descriptive.
And besides, even if some play-by-play men did use it the moment a home run was hit , there’s no chance that Jack Buck would have. He was too damn good.
(link via BTF)