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The Babe Ruth of metaphors

So I was nodding off on the rock-hard, unyielding bed of the extended-stay hotel that fate has consigned me to, while NBC's Olympics coverage droned in the background. It was the individual Nordic combined -- an event designed to send people off into dreamland, if you ask me -- and a member of NBC's announce crew was enthusing about the Nordic combined prowess of some random Finn, hailing him as "the Babe Ruth of this sport."

Yes, yes -- quite the insight. Back to my dreamy little dreams.

Only right after the Nordic combined -- which was not won by the Finnish Babe Ruth, incidentally -- NBC cut over to the men's luge, a sport I do happen to enjoy watching. So I awoke from my map, just in time to see Georg Hackel -- who seemingly has been competing in the Olympics ever since the invention of the luge -- about to take his first run. For the viewers not as well versed in the luge as me, NBC's announce crew helpfully identified Georg Hackel as "the Babe Ruth of luge."

Well, that sounds vaguely familiar.

Just in case you think I'm being unfair to NBC, the luge segment began with the roving report explaining how the sport works with this original opener: "Webster's dictionary defines "luge" as..." I would fill in the rest of the sentence, but I believed the lethal doses of banality caused me to momentarily black out until a chambermaid could revive me.

So I guess Dick Ebersol made a Costco run and cleaned out the cliché supply -- that's what I'm saying here.

For those of you not up on your over-used sports metaphors, I've compiled this handy cliché-to-translation chart so that you can watch the Winter Olympics without having to run to your desktop for a furtive Wikipedia search just to make heads or tails out of what Tom Hammond is saying. And for any NBC personnel scouring the Web for ways of trying to make ski jumping and two-man bobsled relatable to the casual viewer, go ahead and work these little phrases into your telecast. We'll settle on a payment schedule later.

  • The Babe Ruth of his sport: A beloved figure who set a cherished record and is the standard by which all others in his sport are judged.
  • The Hank Aaron of his sport: The guy who actually holds the cherished record.
  • The Barry Bonds of his sport: Probably goofed up on horse pills.
  • The Roger Clemens of his sport: Will you just retire already?
  • The Terrell Owens of his sport: Mouthy.
  • The Lance Armstrong of his sport: This athlete was spotted at a Turin nightclub with a newly available Sheryl Crow. Also, horse pills.
  • The Ty Cobb of his sport: Kind of a prickly pear when it comes to discussing race relations.
  • The Wayne Gretzky of his sport: His wife has 40 large riding on the outcome.
  • The Moose Skowron of his sport: We have no idea what to say and are just picking names at random to fill the dead air space.
  • The Kobe Bryant of his sport: Forced a teammate to be traded to another nation's Olympic delegation.
  • The Bo Jackson of his sport: Ah... but which sport?

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