Sports Subjunctive Indicative

Jonathan Lighter wuxxmupp2000 at GMAIL.COM
Mon Jan 25 20:58:49 UTC 2010

Sounds like he's saying that Manning is an unstoppable, rhythmic killing



On Mon, Jan 25, 2010 at 2:03 PM, Laurence Horn <laurence.horn at>wrote:

> ---------------------- Information from the mail header
> -----------------------
> Sender:       American Dialect Society <ADS-L at LISTSERV.UGA.EDU>
> Poster:       Laurence Horn <laurence.horn at YALE.EDU>
> Subject:      Re: Sports Subjunctive Indicative
> -------------------------------------------------------------------------------
> At 12:51 PM -0500 1/25/10, Se=E1n Fitzpatrick wrote:
> >I think this has been discussed.  I gather it is=20
> >a very common syntax among the commenters on=20
> >"Sports Center" type shows:
> >
> >"With Peyton Manning, you can't disrupt his rhythm, he's going to kill
> you.=
> "
> >COACH REX RYAN, on the quarterback of the=20
> >Indianapolis Colts, who threw three touchdown=20
> >passes to end the Jets' run to the Super Bowl.
> > - Colts Put Emphatic End=20
> >to Jets' Surprising Run -
> >
> >Se=E1n Fitzpatrick
> >
> >------------------------------------------------------------
> >The American Dialect Society -
> This seems more like an enthymematic conditional,=20
> paraphrased by "If you can't...".  I've referred=20
> to the related but more marked sportscasterese=20
> construction--"If Favre doesn't throw that=20
> interception, the Vikings kick the field goal and=20
> win the game"--as the PICFC (present indicative=20
> counterfactual conditional) in earlier ADS-L=20
> posts, and more recently as the SCFHP (sports=20
> counterfactual historical present). Kai von=20
> =46intel at MIT (who blogs about it at=20
> calls it the=20
> sportscasterese present indicative counterfactual=20
> conditional. He gives the (constructed) example
> "If Ramirez doesn't catch that, it's a double and=20
> the tying run is in scoring position."
> Some actual cites:
> =3D=3D=3D=3D=3D=3D=3D=3D=3D=3D=3D=3D=3D=3D=3D=3D=3D=3D=3D=3D=3D=3D
> After spectacular catch by David Justice that=20
> prevents the winning run from coming in,  the=20
> announcer says, "If Justice doesn't catch that=20
> it's a double and the go-ahead run is in."
> (October 1995, cited by novelist David Carkeet in=20
> New York Times "On Language" column)
> =3D=3D=3D=3D=3D=3D=3D=3D=3D=3D=3D=3D=3D=3D=3D=3D=3D=3D=3D=3D=3D=3D
>  "If the shortstop doesn't boot the easy=20
> double-play ball, nobody's talking about the fan=20
> who interfered with Alou catching the foul ball."
> (TV announcer after inning that cost Cubs 2003=20
> pennant; note actual present counterfactual in=20
> apodosis)
> =3D=3D=3D=3D=3D=3D=3D=3D=3D=3D=3D=3D=3D=3D=3D=3D=3D=3D=3D=3D=3D=3D
> "If the ball [ground-rule double hit by Yankees'=20
> Tony Clark] doesn't bounce into the stands, the=20
> run scores and the game ends an hour and a half=20
> ago."
> (Fox TV analyst Tim McCarver over replay of=20
> crucial event in 9th inning of Game 5 that may=20
> have been the turning point in the 2004 ACLS=20
> comeback win by Red Sox over Yankees; note ago)
> =3D=3D=3D=3D=3D=3D=3D=3D=3D=3D=3D=3D=3D=3D=3D=3D=3D=3D=3D=3D=3D=3D
> "If he (Green) doesn't throw that cup, Artest doesn't go up into the
> stands.=
> "
> (Oakland County Prosecutor David Gorcyca, on=20
> filing charges for Nov. 19 brawl, including two=20
> counts of assault and battery filed against John=20
> Green; from ABC World News Tonight, 12/8/04; cf.=20
> "If Artest doesn't go in(to) the stands [=8Athere=20
> is no riot]":  72 google hits)
> =3D=3D=3D=3D=3D=3D=3D=3D=3D=3D=3D=3D=3D=3D=3D=3D=3D=3D=3D=3D=3D=3D
> non-overt conditional with tense shift:
> from Avery Johnson, former guard and now=20
> assistant coach of the NBA Dallas Mavericks:
> "Last year, we don't win this game," Johnson=20
> said.     (post-game TV news conf., 5/19/03)
> =3D=3D=3D=3D=3D=3D=3D=3D=3D=3D=3D=3D=3D=3D=3D=3D=3D=3D=3D=3D=3D=3D
> present with non-past (but counterfactual) reference:
> Knoblauch disputes Steinbrenner's claim (, 9/2/00)
> NEW YORK -- Chuck Knoblauch fired back at Yankees owner George Steinbrenner
> on Saturday after The Boss once again questioned=20
> his second baseman's injured arm.
> "If I don't have the throwing problem, no one=20
> questions if I'm hurt," Knoblauch said in
> a profanity-laced interview.
> =3D=3D=3D=3D=3D=3D=3D=3D=3D=3D=3D=3D=3D=3D=3D=3D=3D=3D=3D=3D
> The New York Times
> March 27, 2006 Monday, D7
> HEADLINE: With Vinatieri, Colts May Have the Edge
> By DAVE ANDERSON  [*emphasis* added]
> =46or all of Coach Bill Belichick's ''genius'' and=20
> all of Tom Brady's passes, [New England Patriots'=20
> kicker Adam] Vinatieri was often the difference=20
> between the Patriots' winning and losing, notably=20
> in their three Super Bowl triumphs in four=20
> seasons. In addition to his last-second field=20
> goals (against the Rams in 2002 and against the=20
> Panthers in 2004), his 22-yarder against the=20
> Eagles in 2005 was the eventual margin in a 24-21=20
> victory.
>  His even more important field goal was the=20
> 45-yarder in the snow that forced overtime=20
> against the Raiders in the playoffs after the=20
> 2001 season. ''I think that's the best kick I=20
> have ever seen,'' Belichick said in saluting=20
> Vinatieri for having broken Gino Cappelletti's=20
> franchise record for points in a Dec. 4 game last=20
> season against the Jets. ''Because of the=20
> conditions and because of what was at stake on=20
> that kick. I mean, that is the game. *If he=20
> doesn't make that kick, it is over.* We don't win=20
> that game without that kick. So that wasn't the=20
> win, that was the tie, so it is over.''
>  *If Vinatieri doesn't make that kick in the=20
> snow, that Patriots team doesn't go on to win the=20
> Super Bowl* at the Louisiana Superdome on=20
> Vinatieri's 48-yarder against the Rams as time=20
> expired.
> =3D=3D=3D=3D=3D=3D=3D=3D=3D=3D=3D=3D=3D=3D=3D
> (Notice that the last example involves the use of=20
> a SCFHP by a Pulitzer-prize winning columnist.)
> I think it's been Language Logged too, but I don't know under what.
> LH
> ------------------------------------------------------------
> The American Dialect Society -

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