Every year in December my local paper, the San Francisco Chronicle, solicits reader suggestions for the word of the preceding year.
From those suggestions, the staff picks the annual word with an eye toward choosing the word that best sums up the year in news.
In 2009 the word was Tweet. In 2008 the word was Bailout. In 2007 the word was Subprime.
Getting the trend here? Something popular, perhaps overworked by the media. The word on everyone's minds.
This year, the staff of the Chron went a little less global and a little more local.
Here's the back story:
The San Francisco Giants baseball team has an award winning local broadcast team made up of former SF Giants pitcher Mike Krukow and former SF Giants shortstop Duane Kuiper, known together as "Kruk and Kuip."
Neither of these men had stellar baseball careers, but in their retirement gig as broadcasters, they have really made their mark.
These two are colorful, fun and knowledgeable. They are revered here in the Bay Area.
At the end of every game, the television broadcasters (usually Kruk and Kuip) and the radio broadcasters (usually Jon Miller and Dave Flemming) will get together on the radio for a post-game wrapup.
It's their chance to talk about the game, pick their favorite players of that game, and generally cuss and discuss. These post game shows have become very popular, mainly because the style is very casual and conversational. The listener feels like they are sitting in at the table with these four guys (and sometimes former first baseman JT Snow) having a beer and discussing the day's work.
Over the course of the 2010 baseball season, it wasn't always a smooth ride for my lowly Giants. They played in a lot of tough games that were often decided by just one run.
Out of eighteen games over the season with the Padres in 2010, eight were determined by one run. In the month of May, the Giants had ten games decided by one run out of 28 total versus all opponents.
At the end of April, just the first month of the season, the Giants had lost two games back-to-back. The Monday game was a ten inning loss, and the Tuesday game was a one hit game lost on a walk off run by David Ekstein (who had so plagued the Giants in the 2002 World Series).
It was emotionally taxing.
So, when Kruk and Kuip hit the air that next day for the third game of the series (in which the Giants were ultimately swept), Kuip used the San Francisco Giants own PR slogan in an exasperated way.
The long running ads had proclaimed, "San Francisco Giants baseball...(pause)...there's Magic Inside!"
On that day in April, Kuip said, "San Francisco Giants baseball...(pause)...Torture!"
The phrase resonated with weary fans and the word Torture! was applied to every game, every moment, every second of agony we endured...including every single game played in the post season.
Torture became the theme of our World Series winning season. An anguished cry. A rallying cry.
And so the 2010 word of the year from the San Francisco Chronicle is...you guessed it:
What a lovely way to suffer.
(for the record, from the SFGate: ""Vuvuzela' and 'hacktivist' finished second and third. 'Refudiate' and 'patdown' were the other finalists...")
Trophy image taken by a corporate photographer from my place of work and used with permission.