"There have been so many injury defaults in the United States Open tennis championships," a story in The New York Times began last week, "that the trainer's room resembles a MASH unit."
U.S. OPEN RESEMBLES MASH UNIT, confirms the headline on an Associated Press bulletin.
"It's a MASH unit at our place," agrees Ed Metallo, a high school football coach quoted in the Port St. Lucie ( Fla.) News. "A MASH unit."
"A MASH unit," concurs Greg Harris, pitching coach of die Class A Lancaster JetHawks, in response to a Los Angeles Daily News writer who used die phrase to describe the JetHawks' rotation. "Well put."
So well put that members of the Baseball Writers Association of America have begun to time-share a single simile, employing the acronym for Mobile Army Surgical Hospital, made familiar by the 1970 film and die ensuing CBS series M*A*S*H. "The Cardinals pitching staff somewhat resembles a MASH unit," quips The Palm Beach Post. "The Omaha Golden Spikes clubhouse has suddenly become a MASH unit," cracks the Omaha World-Herald. "Yankees rotation no longer resembles MASH unit," zings The Sporting News. The National League Central, jokes the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, "is a MASH unit of a division."
This reference has legs. "[Golfer Steve] Elkington, 36, has been a walking MASH unit," says the Boston Herald. "The Kingsmen [a high school Softball team] are a walking MASH unit right now," reports the South Bend Tribune, proving that the phrase is not lame after all—at least not in a clinical sense.
Alas, before a fresh coinage can walk, it must crawl: The Calgary Sun describes the city's Flames as "a team that looks like it just crawled out of a MASH unit."
"We're like a walking MASH unit," Miami Dolphins coach Jimmy Johnson confided to SI last January. This NFL season, reports The Sports Network, "the Cowboys' receiving corps is beginning to resemble a MASH unit." The Austin American-Statesman begs to differ: "The Cowboys aren't the MASH unit they once were."
Their fellow Texans are another story. "Who needs another Big Unit when you have a MASH unit that has performed like this?" the Houston Chronicle asks of the Randy Johnson-less Astros, whose bench coach, Matt Galante, recently gave the paper this memorable one-liner: "Going 6-4 on this trip, with a MASH unit, is pretty good."
The University of Illinois, alma mater of M*A*S*H Col. Henry Blake, is one enormous tent city. "The University of Illinois is looking more like a MASH unit these days," the AP reports of the Illini football team. "The MASH unit formerly known as die Illini basketball team has little gain to go with their pain," the Daily Illini lamented last season.