By Frank Deford
May 14, 2008

The Sports Curmudgeon's bile has been rising at the general level of tackiness he has witnessed in sports, and so he has requested time to vent.

The Sports Curmudgeon has decided, however, that he should be a new kinder and gentler grouch. The Sports Curmudgeon tells me that by listening to politicians he has found out that if you preface remarks by saying "with all due respect," then you can insult anyone with impunity. The Sports Curmudgeon asks me, ruefully:

"Why didn't I learn that when I was just starting out to be a crosspatch? It makes grumbling so much more acceptable."

The Sports Curmudgeon maintains that he is every bit as patriotic as the next, more agreeable, fellow, but he says: "I still don't understand why they play the National Anthem at games when they don't play it at movies and dances and art exhibits and reality shows. But now some teams are also playing God Bless America as well as the National Anthem at games. With all due respect, that's not patriotism, that's jingoism."

The Sports Curmudgeon has also noted the new special sections at several baseball parks, wherein slovenly fans buy a ticket which allows them to eat all they want. The Sports Curmudgeon grouses: "With all due respect, this is a really appropriate American display when so much of the world is starving these days. I'd rather be in a section with a bunch of tosspots where you can drink all you can drink than be with a bunch of slobs eating a guacamole taco every inning."

And, for good measure, the Sports Curmudgeon adds: "With all due respect, isn't it disgusting enough that we have hot-dog eating contests that are actually covered by ESPN and the sports press? Yuck."

The Sports Curmudgeon has never been more upset at baseball players who hit the ball and then stand and admire its flight. Grouses the Sports Curmudgeon: "With all due respect, why aren't managers benching these so-called role models? The first thing you learn in baseball is: you hit the ball, you run. It's up to the creeps eating guacamole tacos to watch."

Of course, the Sports Curmudgeon is watching some sports on television, too. He notes that sports announcers no longer know how to pronounce the word indicated by the letters v-s-period. "With all due respect, have you noticed nobody in sports knows how to say versus anymore? They say 'verse.' It's the Yankees verse the Red Sox. No it's not! It's not poetry, it's competition."

And the Sports Curmudgeon all but sneers at golf announcers. "Why do they say: 'That's a great golf shot?' What did we think it was? A great basketball shot? With all due respect, you dimwits with the microphone, we're watching golf."

The Sports Curmudgeon, a consummate man of letters, is also presenting the Gertrude Award, named for the queen in Hamlet who allowed that someone "doth protest too much, methinks." Previous winners have been Bill Clinton, Marion Jones and Tom Cruise. The Sports Curmudgeon now presents a lifetime Gertrude Award to Roger Clemens, saying: "With all due respect, Clemens never would have even had to protest too much, if he'd just kept his mouth shut. Never mind methinks," adds The Sports Curmudgeon. "Me knows he is the biggest, stupidest jerk in sports."

And an envious Sports Curmudgeon is increasingly upset that John McEnroe keeps getting television commercials. "With all due respect, McNasty's not half the churl I am," says the Sports Curmudgeon, who adds with a snarl: "If I have offended anybody, I don't apologize."

You May Like