Date: Mon, 10 Nov 1997 10:44:36 -0500


Subject: basketball terms: cherry-picker

mmcdaniel mmcdaniel_at_interval-miami[AT SYMBOL GOES HERE]INTERVAL-INTL.COM wrote:

Dickie M. Heaberlin said:

Back then when someone stayed back on offense in order to get a long

pass and make an easy basketball, he was called a "radioman" or



In the early 80s we called such players "cherry-pickers," which I

always assumed was a reference to the crane device.

"Cherry-picking" is used as a synonym of "skimming" in the sense of "selecting the

'cream of the crop' [same metaphor as "skimming"!] in some group and leaving the

less desirable ones". For instance, HMOs and insurance

companies will make special efforts to recruit young, healthy customers who can

actuarily be counted on to deliver healthy premiums while staying healthy themselves

and therefore requiring little payout. This practice leaves the old and sick

without affordable insurance. I'd say that a ballplayer who stays back to pick off

the easy shots instead of supporting his teammates in the hard work is doing

the same kind of thing.

How did any of this come to be called "cherry-picking"? Presumably those

who harvest cherries or any other fruit pick only the ripe ones (_pace_ fruit

picked green to ripen in transit! The most desirable ones, then!). Alternatively or

in addition, the crane-like machine that raises a worker in a "bucket" to reach

high branches (or high wires over roads) lets the worker bypass the lower

fruit, which perhaps gets less sunlight and isn't yet ripe.

Mark A. Mandel : Senior Linguist : mark[AT SYMBOL GOES HERE]

Dragon Systems, Inc. : speech recognition : +1 617 965-5200

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