Take the good with the bad
I hear athletes somewhat frequently saying during interviews that they would need to "take the good with the bad." This is an inversion of how the expression once was and for most of us (I believe) still is, namely "take the bad with the good." The obvious idea of the latter is that what we want are the good parts of something, but inevitably, taking the good parts will have undesired negative consequences. I want a piece of cake. That's the good stuff. Unfortunately, eating it is likely to have several undesirable health consequences.
I struggle to understand what "take the good with the bad" is trying to suggest. Interestingly, the second Google offering for this phrase was to The Free Dictionary wherein it was transformed into "take the bad with the good." So, it seems, Google gags on the phrase "take the good with the bad." However, I googled "young people take the good with the bad" and the fourth entry (but the first relevant one) referred me to a New York Times article. I was not suprised that page referred to was in the sports section. The title of the story was
Mets Take the Good With the Bad (Again)This title, as it turns out, is strange given the fact that seems to have initiated the story. The first two paragraphs read:
Even when the Mets have good news to report, they still cannot shake the dark clouds.The problem here is that this takes the misuse of the original "take the bad with the good" to another level. The original phrase has it that one must take the bad aspects of some single thing along with the good things one wants. I presume that the same holds for the inverted phrase "take the good with the bad." However this New York Times story involves two quite unrelated things, the signing of one player and the need for surgery for another. It wouldn't be the first time a sports journalist, even with a highly regarded (by some) newspaper, used language in a way prescriptivists wouldn't like.
Such was the case yesterday when the club eagerly announced signing Lance Johnson to a two-year contract extension, but then revealed that pitcher Paul Wilson may need arthroscopic surgery on his right throwing shoulder.
I have a confession to make. As I typed this blog, I found myself writing "take the good with the bad" instead of "take the bad with the good." This is a bit puzzling because I don't commonly do that sort of thing. Why would I do that? As I play with the two expressions in my head, I find that "take the good with the bad" flows more tripplingly off the tounge and sounds better to the ear (if not the brain). Am I nuts? Well, of course I am nuts. But do you share my experience?