[Ads-l] Astros clinch World Series

Laurence Horn laurence.horn at YALE.EDU
Thu Nov 2 12:02:53 EDT 2017

> On Nov 2, 2017, at 11:51 AM, Dan Goncharoff <thegonch at GMAIL.COM> wrote:
> Thank you for your support. I took a quick look at Oxford and was
> disappointed.
> OTOH, according to this here in the Telegraph:
> http://www.telegraph.co.uk/tennis/2017/10/15/roger-federer-vs-rafael-nadal-shanghai-masters-final-live-score/'

Ouch!  Yes, I think the “let’s use a not-quite-synonym for the sake of variety” motivation must be at work…
And at least he won the match in straight sets: 3-0, not 3-2.  Once the latter can be described as a case of clinching, full-bore broadening will definitely be at work. 

Either that, or in Shanghai they really did make them play the last two scheduled sets…

> but that just looks like a broadening, possibly driven by a desire of
> writers and editors to not always use 'win'.
> DanG
> On Thu, Nov 2, 2017 at 11:40 AM, Laurence Horn <laurence.horn at yale.edu>
> wrote:
>>> On Nov 2, 2017, at 8:36 AM, Dan Goncharoff <TheGonch at MEDIAKAT.COM>
>> wrote:
>>> I would never write that about a game 7 win. For me, clinching requires
>>> uncertainty. The Astros could have clinched in game 6, but didn't.
>>> I won't use 'clinch' in a simple win-or-lose situation. I can see it in
>>> complex scenarios, eg, clinching a spot in the playoffs by winning the
>> last
>>> regular season game.
>>> ——————————————————————————————
>> Agreed.  That does strike me as an odd use of “clinch”.   It’s a bit
>> complicated, though.  I agree that it seems like a baseball, basketball, or
>> hockey team can be said to clinch a 7-game series in Game 4, 5, or 6, but
>> not 7; thus, Joe Carter’s Game 6 walk-off home run clinched the 1993 World
>> Series for the Blue Jays, but Bill Mazeroski’s walk-off Game 7 home run
>> didn’t “clinch” the 1960 World Series for the Pirates, it only won it.
>> (And yes, I’m using “walk-off” anachronistically here.).
>> On the other hand, if Federer wins three of the first four of five
>> scheduled sets against Nadal, he isn’t said to have clinched the match,
>> only to have won it.  The most natural uses involve cases where additional
>> (“meaningless”) games must be played, but then why isn’t it odd to say that
>> a team clinches a World Series victory when they win in 5 games?  It’s not
>> like they go ahead and play the last two games, any more than Federer and
>> Nadal would play the last meaningless set.  “Clinch” is used in Davis Cup
>> play, though, since even if one country’s team is up 3-0, they go ahead and
>> play the last (“meaningless”) matches, so after a team builds that
>> insurmountable lead, they are indeed said to clinch.  Similarly, in a
>> national election, you clinch victory when you get enough electoral votes
>> to “put you over the top” (since the other electoral votes will still be
>> counted).
>> But the use Dan mentions about last night’s game is all over the web, so
>> it’s not an error but a broadening.
>> I tried the OED, which was no help, since they don’t include the relevant
>> lemma in their (admittedly not-fully-updated) entry for clinch, v.1.  The
>> closest is
>> 5.  To make firm and sure (a matter, assertion, argument, bargain, etc.);
>> to drive home; to make conclusive, confirm, establish.
>> with no cites involving securing ultimate victory in a contest.  AHD5’s
>> entry predicts the pennant-clinching or division-clinching uses or, by
>> extension, the playoff-spot-clinching and electoral contexts (the latter
>> requires a bit of tweaking to the definition) but not the
>> World-Series-clinching occurrences:
>> 3. Sports To secure (a divisional championship, for instance) before the
>> end of regular season play by having an insurmountable lead.
>> So the key is the notion of insurmountability, along with the
>> end-of-season (or end-of-electoral-vote-counting) context, but that
>> doesn’t distinguish between the cases we (at least some of us) do
>> distinguish between, including that weird distinction between scheduled
>> 7-game World Series and scheduled 5-set tennis matches.
>> LH
>> ------------------------------------------------------------
>> The American Dialect Society - http://www.americandialect.org
> ------------------------------------------------------------
> The American Dialect Society - http://www.americandialect.org

The American Dialect Society - http://www.americandialect.org

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