Punctuation Mistakes – Stanley Cup Playoffs Edition

Posted by on Apr 18, 2014 in Business Writing | 0 comments

Punctuation Mistakes – Stanley Cup Playoffs Edition

So it’s April, which means it’s my favorite time of the year – the NHL playoffs. I love sports. All sports. I’m the type of guy that will watch a baseball game being played between two teams in two cities I care nothing about. It’s not uncommon for me to be flipping through the channels and say to myself, “Oh wow, Oakland versus Anaheim. Sweet.”

When it comes to sports, I know what I’m talking about. And trust me when I say that nothing even comes close to the skilled and brutal, fast-paced insanity of the Stanley Cup playoffs. Every game is a minor heart attack for sixty minutes and a full-fledged pulmonary embolism if it goes to overtime. Being from Pittsburgh, I’m a loyal and slightly neurotic Penguins fan. And as any Penguins fan will attest, it was absolutely brutal this week watching them desperately try to hold onto a 4-3 lead for the final eleven minutes as vulcanized rubber screamed toward our goalie from every conceivable angle. When Sidney Crosby managed to dive and knock the puck back to center ice with five seconds left, “to let the heat out of a hot kitchen” as our announcer would say, everyone in the city simultaneously pumped their fists and remembered to breathe again.

That type of excitement led our color commentator, a gritty former player named Phil Bourque, to yell in excitement after a particularly amazing goal in our first round series against the hated Philadelphia Flyers in 2012. For some reason, the phrase he shouted became a rallying cry amongst the team and the fans. To prepare for the playoffs this year, the Pens media department decided to capitalize on Bourque’s phrase, printing thousands of gold T-shirts and towels featuring that particular slogan. If you go to the CONSOL Energy Center where the Penguins play their home games, you’ll even see Bourque’s words painted in giant white letters across the glass façade of the building. It’s a great rallying cry for the team, and man, does it get everyone pumped for a hockey game.

The whole thing is absolutely perfect. Well, except for one thing. The T-shirts, bumper stickers, towels, and the outside of the building all say…


Which is slightly perplexing. I mean, the Penguin organization is well known locally for the amount of community outreach they do, but it seems odd that they’d be so concerned about infant safety that they’d all but ignore the playoffs in their marketing strategy. It’s a good message to get out there to new parents but let’s be realistic – telling them about the benefits of proper car seats could’ve waited until after someone hoisted the Cup.

I mean, it’s almost as baffling as the playoff slogan of the San Jose Sharks…


And the Colorado Avalanche’s …


They’re all great messages, but to me, none of them really scream fast-paced NHL action.

Oh, wait. Wait a second. I think the Penguins really mean “Buckle Up, Baby!” As in it’s not an actual baby – it’s a cute pet name for the person you might be in a relationship with. And you’re telling them that since the Stanley Cup Playoffs are about to start, they’d better fasten their seatbelt because you’re about to step on the gas… oh, I get it. I get it now.

Ah, those silly commas. Always forgetting to show up where they’re needed.

What we’re seeing here is the same basic concept as the often cited…

“Let’s eat Grandma,” and “Let’s eat, Grandma.”

It’s the difference between a nice home cooked meal and cannibalism.

Since the Penguins omitted the comma, we’re actually being instructed to buckle up a baby instead of go on a crazy series-by-series ride with our favorite team through the greatest two months of the sports year. And that’s a bit of a problem.

The weird thing is that someone had to have made a conscious decision to exclude the comma. I have a hard time envisioning a world where the educated people in the Penguins media department simply didn’t notice. My guess is they spent three hours locked in a room where the following conversation took place…

“We can’t print all this merchandise without the comma! It’s not grammatically correct. We’ll look like fools!”

“Commas look like dead pill bugs. They’re weird! And it’s only three words. Nobody will care!”

“I swear to you, some idiot with a blog will notice and skewer us for this.”

“You wanna go? You wanna go? Let’s go. Let’s go right now.”

“You wanna drop the gloves? Fine, let’s go. Let’s dance.”

And then I figure the anti-comma guy was like the PR department goon so after a spirited tussle, the comma was eliminated. And they both served ten minutes in the break room before they were allowed back into the meeting.

Anyway, that’s just an example of how easy it is for even the best people in the business to make a tiny grammatical mistake. And if highly skilled people who do this for a living can make a mistake in a three word phrase that took a couple hours to paint on the side of a building, imagine how easy it is for you to overlook something in a two page press packet you typed up in twenty minutes.

And don’t get me started on the Philadelphia Flyers playoff slogan…


Obviously the most glaring mistake is that Flyers fans should be stuffed into a trashcan until at least August, but I digress…

Buckle up, baby!

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