Don't start with me. It's hot. I'm Cranky, I've got sunblock in my tuna sandwich, sand in my ears and some sort of mollusk in my swimsuit liner. The hole in the ozone layer is directly above my towel, and if the kid to my left turns up Vanilla Ice any higher, he's going to need a Sonyectomy. Now is not the time to mess with me about sports. I've had it up to here with some of this stuff. In fact, I don't want to hear another word about...
•Comebacks. Last week, Ben Johnson's comeback featured a seventh-place finish. Sixth place was a guy laying tile. Fifty-five years ago, Jesse Owens ran a 10.2. Johnson hasn't run that fast since 1988. If Owens comes back today, we still bet on him.
The only guy Johnson might be able to beat is Mark Spitz, whose own stirring comeback featured a 26th-place finish last month. Spitz barely nosed out a guy wearing water wings. Then there are Bjorn Borg and Kurt Thomas, who are both doing a nice job of making us forget how great they once were. Guys, wake up and smell the Ben-Gay.
•Fastballs being "cheese," loaded bases being "juiced," every strikeout being "the whiiiiifff" every home run being a "dinger." This is cable-highlight cuteness run amok. It is not easy to sit and watch CNN's Nick Charles and Hannah Storm and ESPN's Charlie Steiner and John Saunders tell us the bases were juiced when Cecil Fielder took high cheese. What is this, the breakfast bar at Bob's Big Boy?
July 14, 1991
•Andre Agassi's wardrobe.
•Michael Jordan's golf game. The next guy that says, "After the NBA, Michael is going to play the Tour" gets 10 whacks with a niblick. Jordan is about as close to making the Tour as Ian Woosnam is to dunking a basketball. Jordan's handicap is around a seven. Tour players are around a plus seven on the toughest courses in the world. Head-to-head, Woosnam only beats Jordan by about 14 shots. To say that Jordan could learn in the off-season what Woosnam has spent 12 hours a day perfecting since he was a kid is a flat-out insult.
•Gangs at malls. Some shopping malls are banning kids wearing L.A. Raiders and L.A. Kings jackets and caps. The shopkeepers say that the teams' logos and colors are gang insignia. This is good. Now, we can all feel safe as we buy our L.A. Raiders and L.A. Kings jackets and caps at Foot Locker.
•Collectors. Do you realize that Pee Wee Reese's signature and Hank Aaron's signature both went for $20 last week at a show in Anaheim, Calif.? Reese should have to pay $20 just to get in the same ballroom as Aaron. Another thing: Do you know that there are now agent cards? They're the ones that slide out of the stack. There's even a rumor going around that the protective cup Nolan Ryan wore while pitching his seventh no-hitter went for $60,000 at an auction the other day.
He: Hey, Honey, I just bought Nolan Ryan's cup for $60,000.
She: How are we gonna drink out of it, idiot? It's got holes in it! Would getting a life be too much to ask?
•The Giffords' Ultra Slim-Fast commercials. Please. Fat has never made it to within a county line of these two. Even at 60, Frank looks as if he could brush his teeth and beat up Mickey Rourke at the same time. Kathie Lee could've worn a black strapless mini the day before she delivered. And they're telling us to take it off and keep it off? Hey, you two, don't press it. We know where Regis lives.
•Greg Norman. The only interesting thing about Norman lately is guessing what his excuse for losing is this week:
1) Somebody holed out from the snack shack; 2) Norman hurt his back hitting from the snack shack; 3) the snack shack fell on Norman. Forget it. No more feeling sorry for this guy. Until he stops opening tournaments with 78s, which he did in three of his last six majors, or blowing five-stroke leads with eight holes to go, which he did Sunday, he's Mike Hulbert with better hair.
•David Stern. The savior of the NBA. Made it popular again. Deserves the $27.5 million deal. Right. And if Wolf Blitzer had taken the job as Stern did, at the same time Magic and Bird were hitting their strides, we'd be saying the same about him.
•Baseball as poetry. Ken Burns, the director of the brilliant PBS documentary The Civil War, says he will spend the next four years of his life making a series on baseball. Nice. First George Will, now this guy. This kills me. Most baseball players barely get out of high school, won't read anything that doesn't have an ad for X-Ray Specs in the back and spend an inordinate percentage of their lives trying to see how many jockstraps they can fill with Nair. Yet up in the press box, guys like Burns and Will, guys who look like high-school equipment managers, are assembling 30-hour films and 200-page treatises on the historic importance of the infield-fly rule.
•Wait, I'm not done with that last one. All this intellectual slobbering over a game only slightly duller than watching Jell-O set reminds me of the time an especially precious baseball writer was sitting in a dugout with an old, randomly toothed coach, looking out on two stars as they stood talking side by side in the outfield. "You know," said the writer, "I feel cheated. I was never given an opportunity to do what those two young men are doing right now. It must be something to share in the camaraderie of the game, to discuss the plan of battle, to share the oneness of the team, to steel themselves for the daily taste of sweetness or bitterness."
The coach lobbed a wad of tobacco juice onto the dugout floor. "Nah," he said. "Probably talkin' about a broad."
May they all take high cheese.