Don’t read the comments.
Sage and oft-repeated advice for any legitimate writer who’s worth his or her salt and who’s publishing in a forum that gets enough traffic to draw in a wide enough swath of the online world to suck up some of the dregs. Lucky for me, I’m neither legit nor all that highly-viewed. And while I’m often salty, I’m not sure it’s in the same manner I described above.
I actually try to be really active in the comments sections here at Cubs Insider, despite the relative dearth of feedback as compared to some of the national sites or even our Cubs-centric brethren. When I wrote stuff over at Yahoo it was a different story though; talk about climbing down a rabbit whole. I often found my dander rising to dangerous levels of get-up.
But as both an unabashed colloquialismist (fake word) and a card-carrying pedant, I take pride in my own flagrant — and self-aware — abuses of the English language while also amusing myself by pointing and laughing at other less-aware grammar gaffes. I guess that’s why I got a little excited to see the following email pop into my inbox:
Would the Cubs Insider like to have some fun with Chicago Cubs fans? Grammarly, the leading online grammar checker, collaborated with The Wall Street Journal to take a swing at Major League Baseball. We put our algorithms to work analyzing 150 fan comments (of 50 words or more) on 30 MLB official sites. Our data shows who’s striking out and who’s knocking ‘em out of the park when it comes to things like grammar, spelling, and punctuation.
What the what? It’s like advanced metrics for fan comments. As you can see below, Grammarly actually calculated the errors per 100 words for fans of each team and then ranked them accordingly. The results might surprise you a little; have a look for yourself and then meat me at the end for some of my observations.
If I’m being honest here, I’m pretty surprised to see Cubs fans as high on the list as they/we are. I don’t spend a lot of time on the comments on the team’s page though, so perhaps they’re skimming the cream off the top. Regardless (not “irregardless”), 5th place is a pretty good spot.
But if the Cubs being that hi was a trip, you could have knocked me over with a feather when I saw the Sox at 3. I can only assume they were ranked so highly because both of their fans with access to a computer are commenting from the public library, where they have ready access to dictionaries and thesauruses.
Oh, calm down, I’m only kidding. I know at least 5 of them have their own computers.
You know what didn’t surprise me though? Seeing the Cardinals fans in the bottom half of the list; even though I know the Best Fans St. Louis Twitter account isn’t an accurate barometer of what passes for rational thought in Eastern Missouri, but…oh, who am I kidding. It’s a decent indicator.
Things really start to go south after the 18th spot though, and they continue in a syntactic tailspin until crashing and burning in Flushing, Queens with Mets fans. Not only do they have a propensity for proposing insane trades for Starlin Castro, but their apparently not spelling to good when they do. Of course, if any of them are reading this, the jokes I’ve made probably went for naught.
Get a brain! Morans. This is where generally flying under the radar may play to my advantage, as I don’t foresee much blowback from my satirical (or is it?) mockery.
Was this little study a fantastic exercise in frivolity? Absolutely. But do I love the fact that the fine folks at Grammarly did it and told me about it? You bet your dangling modifier I do. Any opportunity to lampoon large groups while exhibiting only a modicum of hypocrisy is I’ll take on with aplomb, though I suppose this is a case in which I may be hoisted by my own petard.
You see, I’m not much of a grammarist myself. In fact, I repeatedly failed a mandatory grammar test in college before finally scraping by with a score that barely exceeded the minimum standard. Of course, my problem wasn’t the inability to be grammatically correct, but rather the lack of knowledge of the terms and concepts that govern the language.
In fact, I’d be willing to be good money that most of you reading this have a better working knowledge of past participles and various other functions and constructs of grammar than I ever did. In the end though, I just wanna be able to talk and write all good and stuff.
But, dude, those Mets fans.