The doubles pickleball game is over. The four players approach the net, paddles extended for the obligatory tap.
And then as if reciting a rote response during a religious ceremony, they all pipe up with a muttered chorus of “Good game, good game, good game.”
But was it a “good” game? We here at Murmurs from the Losers’ Bracket (MFTLB) suggest that the data often tells a different story.
Many pickleball games, if not most games, are not “good games.” This is especially true in “open play” situations when players of varying abilities get randomly paired with others they’ve never played with before. These are frequently lopsided affairs that end with the losing team getting fewer than seven points.
Seven points. That’s our threshold here at MFTLB for a good game to occur. The losing team must at least get seven points.
With seven points, it’s plausible that the losing team could have won. If the winning team got stalled at 10, as frequently happens, the losing team might regain the serve and score four or five points in a row to pull out a come-from-behind victory.
Not likely, but plausible. And yes, yes, we know there are those unicorn games where teams are down 10-0 and end up winning. And yes, that’s a good game. But those games are too insignificant to consider.
The bulk of games end in 11-6, 11-5, 11-4, 11-3, 11-2, 11-1 and the briny 11-0. And while they may be games that allow the winning and losing players to sharpen their particular skills, and may include a spirited rally or two, they are almost always not good games.
They are the games you forget at the end of the day and hope you don’t have to repeat. You just get through them and move on.
In these cases, we here at Murmurs from the Losers’ Bracket suggest that instead of the obligatory exchange of “good games” at the end of the match, players ought to consider a wider variety of final words – words that better reflect the game just played. (*For those new to Murmurs from the Losers’ Bracket, this is a (mostly) humorous tongue-in-cheek opinion piece - don't take us too seriously).
Here are 10 suggestions when “good game” doesn’t quite seem like the right thing to say:
Final words: “The wind was something else!”
Unstated meaning: Please accept this bogus excuse for all the short rallies due to easy returns sailing out of bounds.
Final words: “You have a nice serve.”
Unstated meaning: After your fourth ace against us, would it have been too much to just mush one in so we could have some satisfying rallies?
Final words: “Interesting footwork”
Unstated meaning: You might want to review the rules on volleying the ball from the kitchen.
Final words: “How long have you been playing?”
Unstated meaning: Clearly, it’s not long enough.
Final words: “I hope your paddle is OK.”
Unstated meaning: That time you smashed the ball at my torso still hurts. Considering how hard you hit it, I’m hoping you did some damage to your paddle.
Final words: “Do you play here a lot?”
Unstated meaning: I need to know how to avoid you in the future.
Final words: “It was close for a while.”
Unstated meaning: If the game was the first team to reach three.
Final words: “The sun was in my eyes.”
Unstated meaning: Works best after night games.
Final words: “Thanks for all the help returning balls on my side of the court.”
Unstated meaning: I haven’t seen this much poaching since Sunday brunch.
Final words: “We’ll have to play again sometime.”
Unstated meaning: Not now. Not today. Not ever.
MURMURS FROM THE LOSERS' BRACKET
Read past editions of Murmurs from the Losers' Bracket, including:
- The Ozempic Ad
- Ball On Court? Maybe Not
- The PPA, the APP and Monty Python
- Time to Get Help at Bangers Anonymous
- "It's an Injury Sport"
- A Pickleball Translation Guide
- What's Your Pickleball Nickname?
- Tennis the Menace
- Is There Such a Thing as "Pickleball Torture"?
- How to Be an Effective Pickleball Snob
- All You Need Is Glove
- The Lesson McDonald’s French Fries Have for Pickleball
- Tunes on the Court
- The Poetry of Empty Courts
- “Head Targeting” Rule Change Not a Brainy Idea
Frank Cerabino is a long-time columnist for the Palm Beach Post in Florida, a pickleball addict like the rest of us, and a newly published author. Check out Frank's newly released book, I Dink, Therefore I Am: Coming to Grips with My Pickleball Addiction (available on Amazon and a great read (or gift!) for any pickleball player), for pickleball tips and laughs!