A Miss is as Good as a Mile

“Close But No Cigar” gave me another request — “A Miss is as Good as a Mile Except in Horseshoes and Hand Grenades”, and again, I never heard this phrase before it was brought to my attention.

This proverb originated in England, and is in the same category as “Close But No Cigar” and “Almost Doesn’t Count”, meaning that a failure is still a failure no matter how close you come to the finish line. Or is it?

Originally, the proverb “A Miss is as Good as a Mile” was Americanized in 1788 from William Camden’s Remaines of a Greater Worke Concerning Britaine, 1614,

“an inche is a miss is as good as an ell”

(ell equals almost 45 inches in old English measures). So what it is saying is that it doesn’t matter how much you miss by, you still miss. Now Americanize it, modernize it and throw in a few more words — “Except in Horseshoes and Hand Grenades” and we see that sometimes the miss is not a complete failure.

horseshoe-hitch-1For instance, take playing horseshoes. When the pitch is made, it is the closest horseshoe to the target that wins; therefore, not all misses are created equal, not all failures are created equal. Jim Kaat, Minnesota Twins Pitcher in 1967, was the first to add to the original phrase, and Frank Robinson, playing for both the Baltimore Orioles and the Cincinnati Reds during his career,  quoted in Time Magazine 7/31/1973, followed suit by saying, “Close don’t count in baseball. Close only counts in horseshoes and hand grenades.”

Which brings me to hand grenades. Hey, folks, these are deadly, so if the hand grenade must be thrown, really aim for that target although close enough will still do the job. Like I said, they are mostly deadly and certainly maiming.

Sure, there are some games, some life rules that dictate a failure is still a failure, but there are times when it’s not about failure, it’s about playing the game and getting as close as you can get to the finish line to be the winner. That is the mentality of shoot for the moon and consider yourself lucky when you land on a star. Go for it (your dream) but sometimes you are still a winner when you get close to your target without actually being first.

Until Friday…have a great week…


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Filed under phrases, proverb

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