Well, I draw analogies or quote from Shakespeare all the time, and this must be terribly frustrating to a lot of people. Culture is a strange thing. The easiest way to explain or learn something is by analogy, and when everybody understands something really well, the analogies are easy. Now, I know that many people are not fans of baseball, unless you were raised on the game, it is not something you can jump into it.
I'll occasionally watch British tv shows, and they make references to football (soccer), cricket, British politics, general British specific culture, and I'll have no idea what they are talking about. The show "How I Met Your Mother" has a running bit where the Canadian character makes references that the Americans don't get, and it's so funny because she really sells the audience that we're supposed to be getting this joke.
Any time you have people of different backgrounds, different ages, genders, or races, even different neighborhoods, different schools, and in my line of business, born on different continents, you are going to have such problems. I have not read Bryan Garner, but reading his Wikipedia entry I imagine that I'll have to. Still, I see no way that we can revert to a language without cultural influences, and it would be a travesty of epic proportions to do so.
I'm with you, sionnach. I just generally think sports are dumb, so when people start speaking sports-ese, I tune out. Though it does make me a little less popular at work, I'm no less fun at parties. :)
Nicely done, seanahan. But I must confess to being mystified with the uniquely American addiction to baseball analogies. Why the compulsion to force completely unrelated aspects of the universe into the straitjacket of the baseball diamond?
I've managed people for fifteen years and not once have I been tempted to motivate them, or discuss project status or strategy, by using metaphors or analogies from the game of hurling. Yet I have sat through countless meetings wherein my managers had no compunction about larding on those baseball analogies. The typical result, in a department where over 50% of the technical staff were born outside of the U.S., was demotivating slogans and confusing project specifications. Completely suboptimal communication.
In my mind, all baseball metaphors are what Bryan Garner refers to as 'skunked terms', that is, terms which are intrinsically compromised by being incomprehensible (or irritating, or both) to a significant fraction of the target audience, regardless of the intent of the speaker/writer. Garner advises against the use of such terms, on purely pragmatic grounds, due to their high potential to distract the reader/listener.
With pitchers and catchers reporting last Thursday, I thought about this again, and have come up with a suitably Wordie analogy for baseball.
Every pitch is a word, every inning a sentence, every game a page. Every season forms an epic novel. A fabulous pitch is like a particularly well chosen word. A wonderful inning, late game rally, it is a beautiful sentence, "It was awful living in that hell full of angels". Pitchers and Catchers report marks the beginning of the prologue. When your team doesn't make the playoffs, it's like the ending of a novel abruptly, frustratingly. A World Series victory is like the beautiful end to a classic novel, "it is a far, far better rest that I go to than I have ever known", or "So we beat on, boats against the current, borne back ceaselessly into the past".
The 4 sweetest words in the English language. It mean that the pitchers and catchers report to spring training, to start preparing for the baseball season. It signifies the end of the long winter without baseball.