“Here’s another Greinke story: During a dreadful 2005 season in which he would finish with a 5-17 record and a 5.80 ERA, Brian Anderson remembers Greinke once suddenly announcing in the dugout, ‘I’m going to throw a 50-mph curveball next inning.’”
(By the way, I have no idea what that means, but that’s never stopped me from forming ironclad opinions and trying to force them on others.)
I could tell from the fan’s language that he wasn’t a grammar geek. He didn’t mention participial phrases or adverbs or clause structure. He was just a perceptive reader who knew that there might be better ways to construct that second sentence. He even suggested one. Instead of writing “Brian Anderson remembers Greinke once suddenly announcing,” why not just write, “Greinke suddenly announced”?
I was impressed. This was, indeed, a discussion about participial phrases and adverbs and clause structure. But the fan didn’t know the terminology or the mechanics. He just knew that, for him at least, more efficient sentences had a greater impact.
There’s nothing wrong with Posnanski’s sentence per se. But, no doubt, it’s the kind of stuff freshman composition teachers frown on — for good reason. We’ll get to that in a minute. The fan’s suggested rewrite has its own problem. Yes, it’s more efficient. But to achieve that efficiency, it omits a very crucial piece of information. A reporter can’t state as fact that Zack Greinke said something unless he knows it for a fact. He must attribute it to a source, for example, Brian Anderson.
From a grammar geek or freshman comp teacher’s point of view, the greatest “meekness” in the sentence is the verb structure. The whole point is that Greinke announced something. Yet “announce” is not a verb in our sentence. The main verb in our sentence is “remembers.”