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September 20, 2014

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Ice Ice Billy

That’s (not) the dumbest thing ever said

Major League Baseball’s spring training had broken and the class-A Kinston Indians greeted their new team and new manager to its small town in eastern North Carolina.

“What do you like to do for fun?” I asked our new manager.

“Snow skiing,” he said.

“Cool!” I said. “Plan on doing any skiing this summer?”

Had I made it to the big leagues in my career, my quip might have made this week’s Bleacher Report’s list of 50 dumbest quotes in sports.

The list is a good read, even if only to make its reader feel a little smarter. Most of the quotes on the list are gems. On it, Joe Theismann reminds us that a genius is a guy like “Norman Einstein.” Doug Collins shows that when Detroit scores 100 points and their opponent doesn’t, well, Detroit “almost always win.” But some quotes don’t belong on the list. They are simply funny, introspective or telling.

Shelby Metcalf responded to hearing that one of his Texas A&M basketball players received four F’s and a D on his report card by saying, “Son, looks to me like you’re spending too much time on one subject.”

I flash back to my grandmother Loretta’s reaction to having a single pea in her soup during a hospital stay. “Do I have to give the pea back?” she asked.

Ah, the joy of the most subtle of commentary.

Baseball player Darrel Chaney was asked how the Braves front office can keep the team on its toes. “Raise the urinals,” Chaney said.

I am reminded of when I asked a writing teacher in the days of the manual typewriter if I was supposed to put a space between periods to create ellipsis. “Yes,” he said. “Otherwise you get humpy dashes.”

Both are practical and true.

Tug McGraw made the list for his answer to the query if he preferred grass or Astroturf. “I dunno,” he said. “I’ve never smoked any Astroturf.”

Now that’s just brilliant and funny.

A month before moving to Las Vegas in 2003 I enjoyed a few drinks and had some laughs with McGraw and The Spaceman Bill Lee. At once. It’s true what they say about lefties in baseball, but take care in thinking it’s about a lack of intelligence.

It ended early one morning with Lee — who had just learned I was moving to Las Vegas to shift into hockey — offering to be the Wranglers northern Vermont scout. Then he told me of this beautiful place called Red Rock Canyon. But, he said, I can avoid the entrance fees by just walking around to the back and jumping the chain link fence.

That one sums up the evening.

Predictably, the list includes Yogi Berra who, in his own language, made all of the sense in the world to anyone who would listen — most of the time.

The list ranks at number 18 Berra’s answer to his wife when she asked where he wanted to buried. “Surprise me,” he said.

Sorry folks, but that is lovely.

Here’s one that should have made the list. I seem to remember standing in a dugout in the mid- or late-1980s next to a future Major League Baseball player when he was asked if he thought it would rain that day. “What do I look like, a gynecologist?” he said.

I laughed because I thought that was on purpose. As it turns out it wasn’t.

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