Sports

What's TWTW, anyway?

Ask a White Sox player about the team's signature catchphrase of 2013, TWTW, and you'll get a vague, if not slightly confused, response.

"It is what it is," said second baseman Gordon Beckham. "For us, it's not a motto. It's a funny thing that we think is funny and it's just one of those things you want to keep around. It's just a team camaraderie type of thing."

Ask the brains behind it, longtime Sox broadcaster Ken "Hawk" Harrelson, and you'll be taken back in time about 60 years.

"My mom started that with me when I was 11 years old," Harrelson recalled from his familiar perch in the broadcast booth at U.S. Cellular Field.

While TWTW, short for "the will to win," may have become popular in 2013, Harrelson says it originated in the driver's seat of his mother's car en route to then-young Harrelson's first Little League game in Savannah, Ga.

"I remember in the car going to Coke Field, she said, 'The most important thing honey if you're gonna play sports is you've gotta win. If some of your teammates don't wanna play hard, then you've gotta tell 'em to play hard and they've got to have a will to win.'"

His mother's advice has taken on a life of its own.

Harrelson unleashed the phrase during a televised interview earlier this season. Inspiration struck, he said, as he was driving to Chicago from his home in northern Indiana.

"I'm thinking about all these stats, the on-base percentage, the on-base-plus-slugging and all this and I said well, why don't they get a stat called The Will To Win? How are they going to measure that?" he asked, before answering his own question. "I said with TWTW. That's where it came from. I had to have a category to whereas they couldn't put a number on it. Because you can't put a number on that. It's impossible."

Harrelson's unquantifiable statistical category has become a popular hashtag on Twitter, a phrase used by other sportscasters to describe teams in other sports, even a T-shirt in the White Sox clubhouse.

When pressed, Harrelson says TWTW is the kind of stat you can measure only with your eyes.

"Where do you put a number on, you've got me or Kirk Gibson or someone who's gonna knock [the fielder's] ass into left field on a double play, and he knows that," Harrelson said. "So I'm coming in on him, he knows he's gonna get hit. But he stands there, turns it over, makes the throw and takes the hit. How do you put a number on that?"

And in a sport so heavily predicated on numbers, Beckham says the one statistic they can't put a number on could be key to turning around the last-place squad's fortunes.

"I think we need more of it," he said.

Matt Lindner is a RedEye special contributor.

Want more? Discuss this article and others on RedEye Sports' Facebook page

Copyright © 2015, RedEye
Related Content
  • Learn to speak Hawk

    Learn to speak Hawk

    It's easy to get confused when watching a White Sox TV broadcast, as play-by-play man Ken "Hawk" Harrelson has his own language. We're here to decode the most popular "Hawkisms."

  • Drummer dishes dirt, addresses drug addiction in new Grateful Dead book

    As a founding member of the Grateful Dead, Bill Kreutzmann watched the world change from behind his drum kit, shoveling coal in the wildly tribal rhythm section as the Dead went from San Francisco underground curio to ground-breaking indie outfit, then progenitor of the improvisation-based rock...

  • Book comes out ahead of Grateful Dead farewell concerts in Chicago this weekend

    The three clichés that color every good rock star story is “sex, drugs and rock ’n’ roll." For the Grateful Dead, the trailblazing rock band known for its improvisational style, revelatory live shows and dedicated fanbase, there was that and so much more.

  • Joggers use paddle board to rescue man in the lake

    Joggers use paddle board to rescue man in the lake

    Joggers are credited with saving a man struggling in the water off North Avenue Tuesday morning by grabbing a paddle board and paddling it out to him, according to officials and those involved.

  • 10 best movies of 2015 so far

    10 best movies of 2015 so far

    The year’s half-over! How did that happen? No idea. With six months of a good year of movies in the books, let’s see how the Top 10 list is looking, with a quote from each respective review. Note: There are a few I’ve seen that I really like that haven’t yet opened in Chicago, and those aren’t...

  • If you make less than $50,440, proposal could increase overtime pay

    If you make less than $50,440, proposal could increase overtime pay

    Nearly 5 million more Americans would qualify for overtime pay under new rules proposed Tuesday by the Obama administration, a long-anticipated move expected to affect a broad swath of salaried employees from store managers to social workers to insurance sales agents.

Comments
Loading