This was heard in a morning radio show (WDVE) interview with the Pittsburgh Steelers’ owner, Art Rooney II. Mr. Rooney was talking about the wide receiver, Antonio Brown, and what will happen to him in the future. This is a nice conflation of “reading the tea leaves” (predicting on little bits of information) and “reading between the lines” (perceiving an obscure or unexpressed meaning). Both idioms pertain to perceiving or predicting, and both contain the word “reading”. “Lines” and “leaves” are also similar sounding words. This is similar to my prior posted malaphor, “read between the tea leaves” :
A shout out to Mike Ameel for hearing this one and sending it in.
Sports commentators say the darndest things, and this marvelous mashup was said on an NFL pregame show. It is a conflation of “the cream of the crop” (the best of a particular group) and “separate the wheat from the chaff” (to separate the good from the inferior). Because the subject was football, the commentator might also have been thinking of the phrase “separate the men from the boys” (to distinguish the experienced participants from the inexperienced). Kudos to Jim Kozlowski for hearing this one and sending it in!
I heard this from “the master” several times. He was never one to do things spontaneously, so I thought this malaphor expressed his actual feelings. This classic mixes “spur of the moment” with “in a minute”, implying perhaps a bit of hesitancy to a potential spontaneous action?