The home run derby is tonight, and phrasemaking teevee personage Chris Berman will surely use this opportunity to deploy his famous "back, etc." home run call. I-Team wondered: How many times has Berman said the word "back" over the years?
This isn't an easy question to answer. Video of the derby is hard to come by, and transcripts don't seem to exist. We decided to estimate. Our method: Berman's call varies, obviously, but both Wikipedia and IMDB render it as "back, back, back, back," i.e., four "backs" per home run. He has called the derby since 1998 — this year's will be his 12th — and in that span a total of 912 derby home runs have been hit; if each one warranted a "back, back, back, back," Berman would've said the word "back" 3,648 times.
Doubtful, but let's say instead that every third home run earns a "back, back, back, back." Maybe that's still overgenerous, but remember that this doesn't include the premature "back, back, back, back"s wherein the ball falls sadly shy of the fences. Nor does it include the long, looping home runs that deserve perhaps a fifth and maybe even a sixth "back." Our total, then: 1,216 "backs," or nearly 110.5 "backs" per year. This is a lot of "backs." This is more than four times as many "backs" as there are words in the Gettysburg Address.
In other realms of entertainment, scientists have addressed the relationship between repetition and likability. We defer here to the work of one Philip A. Russell, of the psychology department at the University of Aberdeen in Scotland. He has written an insightful paper about popular music recordings in which he concludes that "repetition increases familiarity but has little effect on likeability" and suggests listeners may possess "a self-regulating mechanism which decreases exposure once likeability begins to decline." This mechanism is known commonly as the mute button.