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Linguistics and Etymology

Sports Talk, 101

by DAVID MACARAY

1.  “We didn’t underestimate them.  They were just a lot better than we thought they were.”—Sir Bobby Robson, famed English soccer coach, referring to a Cameroon team in the 1990 World Cup.

2.  “There will be a game where somebody scores more goals than Brazil, and that will be the game they lose.”—Robson

3. “The first 90 minutes of a football match are the most important.”—Robson

4.  “I owe a lot to my parents, especially my mother and father.”—golfer Greg Norman

5.  “We now have runners on one and three.”—an Australian announcer during 2000 Olympics baseball game, referring to runners at first and third base.

6.  Bill Peterson, football coach at Florida State (1960-1979), was known for butchering quotations.  He once tried to inspire his team with this one:  “Just remember the words of Patrick Henry:  ‘Kill me, or let me live’.”

7.  This exchange between Cleveland Indian announcers Herb Score and Nev Chandler:  Chandler:  “That base hit makes Cecil Cooper 19 for 42 against Tribe pitching.”       Score:  “I’m not good at math, but even I know that’s over .500.”

8.  “The Yankees are only interested in one thing, and I have no idea what that is.”—Yankee outfielder Luis Polonia

9.  The lead car is absolutely unique, except for the one behind it, which is identical.”—Murray Walker, auto racing announcer, commenting during a race.

10.  “Well, that was a real cliff-dweller.”—baseball announcer Wes Westrum, commenting on a close game.

11.  “And the line-up for the final of the Women’s 400 meters hurdles includes three Russians, two East Germans, a Pole, a Swede and a Frenchman.”—track announcer David Coleman

12.  Cuban middle-distance legend, Alberto Juantorena, was known for his 9-foot stride.  This from track announcer David Coleman:  “And there goes Juantorena down the back straight, opening his legs and showing his class.”

13.  “The drivers will have one foot on the brake, one on the clutch, and one on the throttle.”—auto racing announcer Bob Varsha

14.  “We’re going to turn this team around 360 degrees.”—Jason Kidd, NBA star.

15.  “My sister’s expecting a baby, and I don’t know if I’m going to be an uncle or an aunt.”—Chuck Nevitt, North Carolina State basketball player, explaining to coach Jim Valvano why he was so nervous (1982).

16.  Professional boxer Chuck Wepner’s trainer was touting a miraculous new salve guaranteed to close his fighter’s cuts during a bout.  A writer asked if he was worried about the other corner protesting the use of a foreign substance. “It’s not a foreign substance,” he replied confidently.  “It was made right here in the USA.”

17.  Mickey Rivers on hearing that teammate Reggie Jackson had an IQ reputed to be 165.  “Out of what,” he sneered, “a thousand?”

18.  “Folks, this is perfect weather for today’s game. Not a breath of air.”—broadcaster Curt Gowdy

19.  “You can sum up the game of baseball in one word:  ‘You never know’ ”—Joaquin Andujar, St. Louis Cardinals

20.  Years ago, Coach Jim Leyland told his mother that he might be squeezed out because there was no spot for him.  They already had Alex Grammas as their third base coach, and Dick Tracewski as their first base coach, and neither guy was going anywhere soon.  His mom asked, “Who coaches second base?”

21.  In 1992, the Philadelphia Phillies acquired a catching prospect from the Dutch national team, named Michael Crouwel.  When asked what he thought of the city of Philadelphia, Crouwel replied:  “The only thing I know about it is that it’s in New Jersey.”

22.  “All I’m asking for is what I want.”—Rickey Henderson, on his contract negotiations

23.  “Besides the two fighters, the referee is the most important man in the ring.”—world champion boxer George Foreman

24.  “Last night I failed to mention something that bears repeating.”—broadcaster Ron Fairly

25.  “On this special Fathers Day, we’d like to wish all of you a very Happy Birthday.”—baseball announcer Ralph Kiner

David Macaray, an LA playwright and author (“It’s Never Been Easy:  Essays on Modern Labor,” 2nd edition), is a former union rep.