I'm reading the sports section these days because the only sport I follow, swimming, is at last getting its quadrennial day in the sun. (And what a day it is! Two words: Dara Torres. Okay, two more: Michael Phelps.) Good news for me; bad news for newspaper sportswriters who regard swim-meet assignments as hardship duty. (Except for the ogling of the nearly naked bodies.) For four years they cover big-money sports that involve balls and the verb "to play," and then, just before the Olympics, they're shuttled off to some natatorium in Nowheresville--this year it's Omaha--and plunged into a weird subculture whose rituals include full-body shaving. They don't understand swimming technique or training, they can't tell the players even with a scorecard, and when they try to dash off some savvy-sounding copy they flail like beginning butterflyers.
I'm willing to overlook most of that. I'm grateful just to read names and race results. But I do get ticked off when I have to read painful usage errors that would have been caught by a copyeditor if all the copyeditors hadn't gotten the axe in the last round of layoffs (or been outsourced to India).
Here, for example, is the San Francisco Chronicle's Scott Ostler in this morning's paper with a wrapup of yesterday's Olympic trials.
Dara Torres isn't held together with bubblegum and bailing wire.
Dumb, dumb sentence, but what really made me cringe was bailing. It's baling wire, as in "wire that's used to tie bales of hay together."
[Amanda] Beard: "I can't get to sleep at night, so I take sleeping pills." Doesn't that make her loggy?
Loggy? No, logy--pronounced with a long o. ("Loggy" would necessarily be pronounced with a short vowel.) It means lethargic or sluggish.
Neither error was corrected in the online edition, by the way. Sigh.