notable quotable on post-retirement plans

Laurence Horn laurence.horn at YALE.EDU
Wed Sep 24 13:50:50 UTC 2008

At 1:22 PM +0000 9/24/08, ronbutters at wrote:
>"longtime mediocre major-league pitcher" is an oxymoron (unlike
>"longtime mediocre Ivy-league professor"--please note that I am NOT
>suggesting that Prof. Horn is anything but brilliant)

No more of an oxymoron than "NBA small forward", referring to
basketball players ranging from 6'4" to 6'10" or so.  "Mediocre",
like "long", "small", etc. etc., is a relative scalar adjective whose
extension depends on the comparison class.  Are you saying it's
oxymoron to refer to the Kansas City Royals as "a bad baseball team"
because if they were in a different league (e.g. the Atlantic Coast
Conference) rather than in the American League they might go
undefeated?  Mercker, by most definitions, has been a
middle-of-the-pack pitcher, and hence mediocre qua major-league
pitcher, while (in part because of being a southpaw) hanging around
forever.  18 years, 9 different teams, lifetime 74-67, ERA 4.16--in
my book, that makes him a mediocre journeyman--nothing personal,
although for all I know he'll be superb at vodka conversion.  And
yes, there are indeed longtime mediocre Ivy league professors, even
at Yale, whether or not that includes present company.  Luckily, it's
harder to confirm this by looking at the career stat sheet.


>------Original Message------
>From: Laurence Horn
>Sender: ADS-L
>To: ADS-L
>ReplyTo: ADS-L
>Sent: Sep 24, 2008 12:30 AM
>Subject: [ADS-L] notable quotable on post-retirement plans
>I don't know if he invented the line, but longtime mediocre
>major-league pitcher Kent Mercker has been widely quoted on the web
>and now TV for his elegant response last week as to where he thought
>his career would be heading now:  "I'm starting my new
>profession--turning vodka into urine."
>The American Dialect Society -
>Sent from my Verizon Wireless BlackBerry
>The American Dialect Society -

The American Dialect Society -

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