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1033 Discussing a Victory or Loss

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Welcome to English as a Second Language Podcast number 1,033 – Discussing a Victory or Loss.

This is English as a Second Language podcast episode 1,033. I’m your host, Dr. Jeff McQuillan, coming to you from the Center for Educational Development in beautiful Los Angeles, California.

Visit our website at ESLPod.com. You know what to do. Become a member and download a Learning Guide. You can also take a look at our ESL Podcast Store, which has some additional courses in English I think you might enjoy.

This episode is a dialogue between Yolanda and Bob about winning and losing, victory or loss. Let’s get started.

[start of dialogue]

Yolanda: Did you see the game last night?

Bob: You mean the crushing victory of my team over yours?

Yolanda: That’s not how I would characterize it. We fell short in the final seconds, but we played a good game up until then.

Bob: In your dreams. My team dominated from beginning to end. You’re just lucky that it wasn’t a complete blowout.

Yolanda: We would have won if the coach hadn’t decided to throw in the towel early. I think he just melted down under the pressure.

Bob: It’s easy for you to play Monday morning quarterback, but I don’t think anything would have saved your team from going down in flames.

Yolanda: There’s a rematch in three weeks, you know.

Bob: And my team will whup your team again, no question.

Yolanda: You can trash talk all you like. We’ll see if you’re still smiling after my team wipes the floor with yours!

[end of dialogue]

Our dialogue begins with Yolanda asking Bob, “Did you see the game last night?” Some sort of sports game, we guess. Bob says, “You mean the crushing victory of my team over yours?” A “victory” (victory) is a win, when you beat another person in some competition or race. The word “crushing” (crushing) means very difficult to deal with. We usually talk about a “crushing defeat” (defeat).

A crushing defeat would be a case where you lose, but you lose very badly and it’s very difficult for you to deal with it. You are having a lot of problems understanding it. You perhaps even lose hope that you will be able to do better in the future. Anything that is crushing is difficult to deal with. Bob uses the term to describe the victory of his favorite team over Yolanda’s favorite team. So, he’s really saying that the victory was very convincing – that they really beat the other team badly, we might say.

Yolanda says, “That’s not how I would characterize it.” “To characterize” (characterize) is to describe something, to select certain words to talk about something. Yolanda is saying that she would not characterize – she would not describe – the game last night as being one of a “crushing victory” for Bob’s team. She says, “We,” meaning her team, “fell short in the final seconds, but we played a good game up until then.”

“To fall short” is a two-word phrasal verb meaning not to do as well as you had hoped or had expected – not to meet expectations, we might say. “I need a hundred dollars, but I was only able to get ninety.” I fell short of my goal. I didn’t do as well as I thought I would. Yolanda says that her team “played a good game” – they were playing well – “up until then,” meaning the end of the game. “Up until” means leading up to that point before this point.

Bob says, “In your dreams.” This is a somewhat insulting thing to say to someone. “In your dreams” is a phrase used to show that you don’t believe what the other person has just said. You’re saying that the other person’s belief or opinion is not realistic. It’s not true. It’s not even close, perhaps. Bob says, “My team dominated from beginning to end.” “To dominate” (dominate) means to control someone or something, to have complete power over another person or another thing or a situation – in this case, a game.

Bob says his team dominated from the beginning of the game to the end of the game. He says, “You’re just lucky that it wasn’t a complete blowout.” A “blowout” (blowout) is a very easy win or victory for a team. If you’re playing, I don’t know, soccer, and your team wins 25 to nothing, that would definitely be a blowout. In other words, it was a very easy, easy victory. I’m not the world’s biggest soccer fan, but I think if I saw that score, I would describe the game as a complete blowout.

Yolanda says, “We would have won if the coach” – the leader of the team – “hadn’t decided to throw in the towel early.” The expression “to throw in the towel” means to give up, to no longer try to do something because it’s too difficult or too challenging or perhaps impossible. “To throw in the towel” means to say, “Okay, I lose. I don’t want to continue playing anymore,” basically. That’s what Yolanda thinks the coach of her team did early, or at least too early, in the game.

Yolanda says, “I think he just melted down under pressure.” The verb “to melt” (melt) means for something to go from a solid state to a liquid state. So if you have a ball of ice and you put it in the oven, it will melt. The ice, a solid, will turn into water, a liquid. “To melt down” means to take something that is solid and convert it into liquid. You might talk about, for example, melting down your gold wedding ring in order to sell it and make money. You shouldn’t do that, however, unless perhaps you’re no longer married or you really need the money.

When we describe a person as “melting down,” we mean that this person was not able to perform because of the stress, because of the pressure of the situation. Someone who “melts down under pressure” is someone who in a difficult situation is not able to perform the way he or she would normally perform without that stress.

Bob says, “It’s easy for you to play Monday morning quarterback, but I don’t think anything would have saved your team from going down in flames.” The expression “Monday morning quarterback” is popular in American English. It refers to American football. The “quarterback” on a football team, an American football team, is the person who is sort of the leader of the team, the person who gets the ball first and either gives it to someone or throws it to someone. The quarterback is often making the important decisions in terms of what the next play is going to be in the game.

Now, you have to understand that in the U.S., professional football teams almost always play on Sunday afternoon. Monday is the day after Sunday (you probably knew that already). If you are “playing Monday morning quarterback,” you are making decisions after the fact. You are criticizing someone else, saying that you could’ve done it better – even though, of course, you probably couldn’t have done it better.

It’s often used when someone takes information from a situation that the person who is making the decision didn’t have and saying, “Oh, well, I would’ve done something differently.” During the football season, people often talk about the game on Monday morning during their coffee break or perhaps before work. If you criticize your team after the game is over, you’re playing Monday morning quarterback. You are saying you could have done a better job, which usually is not the case.

Bob says that he doesn’t think anything would have saved Yolanda’s team from “going down in flames.” The phrasal verb “to go down” here means to lose, to be defeated. “Flames” (flames) refers to fire. “To go down in flames” refers probably originally to a plane, for example, crashing to the ground. What will happen if a plane hits the ground, if it crashes? It will probably go up in flames. It will explode. The gasoline will catch fire. “To go down in flames” means to fail very badly and often very quickly.

Yolanda says, “There is a rematch in three weeks, you know.” A “rematch” is another game between the same two teams. So if you play against one team and you lose, you say, “Well, we’ll have a rematch three weeks from now,” or “We’ll have a rematch next week.” We will play again. The same two teams will play again. Bob says, however, “And my team will whup your team again, no question.” “To whup” (whup) is an informal verb meaning to defeat another person or another team very badly – to have a very clear victory.

Yolanda says, “You can trash talk all you like. We’ll see if you’re still smiling after my team wipes the floor with yours.” The phrasal verb “to trash (trash) talk” is used when you are playing sports, for example, and you are telling the other team how bad they are, how horrible they are, how they’re terrible players. If you say, “Oh, your team is going to lose so badly, you’re going to wish you hadn’t even decided to play us.” “To trash talk” is to insult the other team.

You could also trash talk about one person that you are playing. If you are playing a game against another person, you could say, “Oh, you’re terrible, you’re never going to win.” You say insulting things about that person to make yourself seem better perhaps than you really are. The expression “to wipe the floor with” means to defeat another person very badly. Once again, to have a very clear win. Yolanda is talking about her team wiping the floor with Bob’s team. She means that her team is going to defeat Bob’s team and defeat them very decisively, by a big score.

Now let’s listen to the dialogue, this time at a normal speed.

[start of dialogue]

Yolanda: Did you see the game last night?

Bob: You mean the crushing victory of my team over yours?

Yolanda: That’s not how I would characterize it. We fell short in the final seconds, but we played a good game up until then.

Bob: In your dreams. My team dominated from beginning to end. You’re just lucky that it wasn’t a complete blowout.

Yolanda: We would have won if the coach hadn’t decided to throw in the towel early. I think he just melted down under the pressure.

Bob: It’s easy for you to play Monday morning quarterback, but I don’t think anything would have saved your team from going down in flames.

Yolanda: There’s a rematch in three weeks, you know.

Bob: And my team will whup your team again, no question.

Yolanda: You can trash talk all you like. We’ll see if you’re still smiling after my team wipes the floor with yours!

[end of dialogue]

I’m pretty sure our scriptwriter could whup me in almost any game we played. That’s because she’s so smart. She’s the wonderful, creative Dr. Lucy Tse. Thank you, Lucy.

From Los Angeles, California, I’m Jeff McQuillan. Thank you for listening. Come back and listen to us again right here on ESL Podcast.

English as a Second Language Podcast was written and produced by Dr. Lucy Tse, hosted by Dr. Jeff McQuillan. Copyright 2014 by the Center for Educational Development.

Glossary
crushing – making one lose all hope; very difficult to deal with

* When her mother died, it was crushing for Susan.

victory – win; successful completion of a competition or race, with no one else having done better

* Getting a few victories early in the season improved the players’ self-confidence.

to characterize – to describe something in a particular way; to select certain words to talk about or to describe something

* I would say that Thelma is friendly, but I wouldn’t characterize her as being too talkative.

to fall short – to not meet expectations; to not do as well as expected or hoped

* We fell short of our sales goal by just a few hundred dollars.

up until – as far as; during some period and leading to the present moment

* She had second thoughts about marrying Ezekiel up until the moment she said, “I do.”

in your dreams – a phrase used to show that one does not believe what another person has just said; a phrase meaning that one’s opinion or belief is not realistic or possible

* A: With this new haircut, I look like Brad Pitt!

B: In your dreams!

to dominate – to control and have complete power over someone or something; to be superior to someone or something

* The new king dominated everyone and everything in his kingdom.

blowout – an easy win or victory

* The other team won 20-0. It was a major blowout.

to throw in the towel – to give up; to no longer try to do something because it was too difficult, challenging, or impossible

* After receiving 30 rejection letters, Sally decided to throw in the towel and stop trying to get her book published.

to melt down – to lose control of one’s thoughts, actions, and/or emotions and no longer be able to perform, especially when one is under a lot of stress

* The math teacher melted down in class and started yelling at the students.

Monday morning quarterback – a person who criticizes how something was done and acts as if he or she would have done it better, but is able to do that only because the thing has already happened and more information is now available

* Sure, it sounds easy when you explain it now, but remember that anyone can be a Monday morning quarterback. It’s must harder to make the right decision when those things are actually happening.

to go down in flames – to end and/or fail completely and very quickly

* Their dream of traveling to Hawaii went down in flames when they had to use all their savings for medical treatments.

rematch – another game played between the same two players or teams after a first game has ended

* I’m sorry you lost, but hopefully you can win the rematch.

to whup – to beat another person or team very badly; to have a clear win

* Nobody expected that team to whup our team so badly.

to trash talk – to use insulting words and phrases to make someone seem worse or less important in order to make oneself seem better

* Don’t listen to those kids who are trash talking you. They’re just trying to make themselves feel better.

to wipe the floor with – to beat another person or team very badly; to have a clear win

* You’ve practiced for months. Now let’s go out there and wipe the floor with those players. Go team!

Comprehension Questions
1. What does Yolanda mean when she says, “We fell short in the final seconds”?
a) They fell down and got injured at the end of the game.
b) They weren’t able to play as well as the other team at the end of the game.
c) The players ran out of time at the end of the game.

2. According to Yolanda, what did the coach do?
a) He was really sweaty and needed a towel.
b) He put his weakest players into the game.
c) He stopped trying and gave up.

Answers at bottom.

What Else Does It Mean?
crushing

The word “crushing,” in this podcast, means making one lose all hope, or refers to something that is very difficult to deal with: “Everyone was shocked by the crushing news of the major accident.” The word “crushing” also means with a lot of power and force operating against someone or something else: “He shook her hand with a crushing grip.” If something is “crushing,” it is highly critical: “Years later, Harvey can still recall the crushing remarks of the other students in high school.” Finally, as a noun, a “crush” refers to strong feelings of romantic love, especially for someone who would not return those feelings: “Which movie star do you have a crush on?” Or, “Many boys have a crush on their teacher.”

blowout

In this podcast, the word “blowout” means an easy win or victory: “We’re much stronger than our opponents. This game is going to be a blowout.” When talking about a car, a “blowout” happens when a tire suddenly bursts and the air comes out: “Pedro was driving on the freeway when he had a blowout and had to pull to the side of the road.” When talking about women’s hair, a “blowout” is a style treatment where the hair is blown dry slowly with beauty products to make the hair straight, shiny, and full of body (with a lot of volume): “The bride and all the bridesmaids got manicures and blowouts before the wedding.” Finally, “to blow out the candles” means to push air out of one’s mouth to stop the flame that had been burning: “Happy birthday! Now make a wish and blow out the candles.”

Culture Note
Touchdown Celebrations

Football players love to celebrate when they “score a touchdown” (make points during a game). Many players perform touchdown celebrations, which have become “increasingly” (more and more) “complex” (detailed and involving many parts; not simple) over time.

The simplest touchdown celebrations could just be a player jumping up and down “for joy” (out of happiness) with his hands in the air. Many players choose to “spike the ball,” which means throwing it onto the ground so that it lands on the “pointed” (not rounded) end of the ball and then bounces back up.

Some players like to have more “elaborate” (more involved; more complex) touchdown celebrations. Some players perform a “backflip” (jumping into the air and bending backwards, flipping the entire body to land on one’s feet again, without placing the hands on the ground) or a short “salsa dance” (a style of dance popular in Latin America). Other players jump backward into the arms of the “crowd” (audience members) in what is known as a Lambeau leap. Some players have even played a quick game of “duck duck goose” (a child’s game where children sit in a circle and one person walks on the outside of the circle, tapping shoulders, until the “goose” has to quickly get up and chase the child as he or she runs back into the circle).

The “National Football League” (NFL) “frowns upon” (does not like or approve of) highly “choreographed” (planned with dance moves) celebrations. In 2006, the NFL created “penalties” (when the ball is moved backward during a game to punish a team) against players who use a “prop” (an object used in a performance) for “excessive” (too much) celebration.

Comprehension Answers
1 - b

2 - c