Draw first blood? 先下手为强

2024-06-21 11:31:18

Reader question:

Please explain “first blood” in this:

The Boston Celtics drew first blood in the NBA Finals after demolishing the Dallas Mavericks, 107-89.

My comments:

American professional basketball is what we are talking about here.

Earlier this month, the Boston Celtics won their record 18th championship by beating the Dallas Mavericks 4-1 in the NBA Finals.

The NBA Finals are a best-of-seven series, meaning the first team to win four games wins the slugfest (a prolonged battle).

In the event, the Boston Celtics are the team to do it, beating the Mavericks in five games.

In Game One, they dominated the Mavericks, winning by a large margin to draw first blood, and that means to take a series lead.

First blood, you see, stands for the first win and the early advantage.

How come?

Well, first blood is popularly believed to have originated from boxing. In the old days, boxers didn’t wear the gloves they wear today, those soft, puffy gloves that are meant to soften the blow. Instead, boxers fought with their bare fists.

Boxing matches, hence, were brutal affairs. As fists fly, boxers get bloodied soon as they repeatedly get hit on the chin, nose and around the eyes.

I must say boxing today is the same way, more or less. I mean, it is still brutal even with the help of gloves that soften the blow.

Anyways, the first boxer to cause bleeding on the opponent is said to draw first blood.

That means he’s the first to strike a blow, a serious blow. That means he’s hurt the opponent badly. That means he now has an advantage. Hopefully can build on the initial success and go on to win the whole match.

That’s first blood, literally, the first drop or stream of blood from a cut wound.

Metaphorically speaking, people use “first blood” to describe success in the early stages of a prolonged fight. Drawing first blood is often used to describe the first score in sports. The first team to score a goal in a soccer match, for example, is the team to draw first blood.

In our top example, on the other hand, the first blood is used to describe the first game won. Boston drew first blood by winning Game One.

When there is a first, there is a second and third, fourth, etc. So “first blood” also implies more blood will be shed, figuratively speaking, and the battle gets more fierce and difficult from now on.

All right?

All right, here are media examples of “drawing first blood”:

1. For Sarah Huckabee Sanders, chaos in President Donald Trump’s White House has proven to be a ladder.

Not that she would call it that.

Just days after she replaced Sean Spicer as press secretary in July – a job she’d been moonlighting in for months – Communications Director Anthony Scaramucci was also out the door.

It looked like an administration in turmoil, but Sanders faced the press corps with a smile.

“If you want to see chaos, come to my house with three preschoolers. This doesn’t hold a candle to that,” Sanders said. “Just to be clear, that’s not an open invitation to come to my house. But if you guys want to schedule babysitting time, I’ll be happy to work that out.”

The laughter from the White House reporters was an early indicator of cooler, less contentious briefings to come as women ascended in a White House communications office that had seen unprecedented turnover and no shortage of drama in the early days of Trump’s term.

For the first time in any administration, two women are now in command of its top public-facing roles – press secretary (Sanders) and communications director (Hope Hicks). And thanks to another recent hire – Mercedes Schlapp as a senior communications strategist – women now make up 62 percent of Trump’s small but nimble press operation.

They say it makes a difference.

“You’re able to take [the president’s strength] and then mix it with a bit of softness,’ said Schlapp, the department’s newest addition.

Both Hicks and Sanders are familiar with the disconnect that their rise might present to some.

Trump is a thrice-married president whose private, public and professional interactions with women have often been called into question. His campaign against Hillary Clinton was marked by vitriolic attacks, including on her stamina, that critics viewed as sexist, as well as allegations of sexual misconduct that rocked the final weeks of the campaign. And there were his attacks on former Miss Universe Alicia Machado and Megyn Kelly, then of Fox News (“blood coming out of her wherever”), as well as the “Access Hollywood” tape.

“I spend a lot of time around the president, and I’ve never felt anything but respected and empowered by him to do my job,” Sanders told NBC News. “Can he be tough? Yes. But he’s equally tough on men. People want to say ‘Oh, he’s tough on women’ – no, he’s tough on everybody.”

Kellyanne Conway, the counselor to the president, said it wasn’t a surprise that Sanders, Hicks and other women would take on more visible roles in the White House.

“That is just natural for Donald Trump to hire and elevate women to high positions,” she said, citing his history with the Trump Organization and his 2016 campaign.

As Trump’s campaign manager, Conway watched cable news mention the “Access Hollywood” tape “every single day, if not every single hour,” in October and November, only to find that “voters decided differently between what offends and what affects” them, she said. With Trump’s victory, Conway won one of her own, becoming the first woman to manage a successful White House campaign.

As for Trump’s high-profile attacks on women on the trail, Conway argued that they weren’t indicative of misogyny but rather represented the famously combative “counterpuncher” reacting to someone who drew first blood.

Now, women are in charge of channeling his message, both in front of the camera and behind the scenes.

- The White House Women Who’ve Got Trump’s Back, NBCNews.com, Sept. 18, 2017.

2. In a dream final between two of the greatest players in tennis history, 20-time Grand Slam champion Rafael Nadal battled past 18-time major winner Novak Djokovic, 7-5, 1-6, 6-3, to not only win Rome for the 10th time in his career, but to tie Djokovic’s record of 36 career Masters 1000 crowns.

Rome is now the fourth separate event that Nadal has won 10 or more times, having previously conquered Monte Carlo 11 times, Barcelona 12 times and Roland Garros an incredible 13 times.

“It’s amazing. To have this trophy in my hands for the 10th time, it’s just something impossible to imagine,” the 2005, 2006, 2007, 2009, 2010, 2012, 2013, 2018, 2019 and 2021 Rome champion said.

“I’m super happy. I can’t thank my team enough, and life for all these opportunities, and everybody’s support has been huge during all these years. To have the trophy on this day, this year, it’s amazing.”

Sunday’s final was a battle from start to finish. After holding to start the match, Djokovic drew first blood, breaking Nadal right away for a 2-0 lead – but Nadal broke right back, and after seven straight holds, the Spaniard broke again for 6-5 and blasted a huge inside-out forehand to clinch the set.

- Rafael Nadal battles past Novak Djokovic to win Rome for 10th time, Tennis.com, May 16, 2021.

3. Even for the all-conquering Manchester City, the art of winning can prove elusive, lost for weeks as it secured just one victory in six Premier League games, before it capped its historic year by winning a record fifth trophy at the Club World Cup in Saudi Arabia on Friday.

And the defending Premier League champion backed up that achievement with an impressive 3-1 victory against Everton on Wednesday, overturning a one-goal deficit in the second half.

A comeback victory, albeit against a struggling Everton, marked a statement of intent from City, as it chases its rivals from fourth place in the table following a recent stutter to its title defense in which conceding late in the game to drop points has become a familiar pattern.

“It was a massive win for us after where we came back from Saudi Arabia as world champions,” City’s manager Pep Guardiola said afterward, per the club’s official website.

“We were really pleased with how we reacted and it proved again how special this group of players is and the mentality that we have in our bones.”

City enjoyed the better start with opportunities to take the lead – two consecutive saves from Everton goalkeeper Jordan Pickford deflected the ball wide of the goalpost and prevented Julián Álvarez from finding the back of the net, before he repelled Jack Grealish’s effort too.

But it was Everton who drew first blood when City’s defense buckled, and Rodri conceded the ball to Dwight McNeil whose cross back into the box found Jack Harrison for the opening goal.

Trailing 1-0, City faced the prospect of slipping eight points behind league leader Liverpool, especially when Harrison almost had a second goal shortly afterwards, denied only by Ederson’s acrobatic save that tipped the ball over the crossbar.

But City has assembled one of the most dominant teams in Premier League history and it displayed its title-winning credentials, coming from behind to score three goals in the second half.

And, as befitting a team as stacked with talent as City, it was a stunning goal that sparked the comeback, conjured out of nowhere in the 53rd minute by Phil Foden whose powerful strike from outside the box whistled past Pickford and into the net.

Once the City juggernaut has been kickstarted, it often proves unstoppable and 10 minutes later, Álvarez’s penalty gave Guardiola’s team the lead for the first time.

Then, Bernardo Silva’s opportunistic goal in the 86th minute put victory beyond Everton’s reach, after Pickford had misjudged clearing the ball away from danger.

- Manchester City secures comeback victory at Everton, CNN.com, December 28, 2023.


About the author:

Zhang Xin is Trainer at chinadaily.com.cn. He has been with China Daily since 1988, when he graduated from Beijing Foreign Studies University. Write him at: zhangxin@chinadaily.com.cn, or raise a question for potential use in a future column.

(作者:张欣   编辑:丹妮)