Sweetness And LightSweetness And Light The Score On Sports With Frank Deford

Giving Voice to the Sports Curmudgeon

Commentator Frank Deford's good friend, the Sports Curmudgeon, has a long list of sports pet peeves. Deford gives them a voice.

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RENEE MONTAGNE, host:

It's been a couple of years since we've heard from the Sports Curmudgeon, but he hasn't gone away, nor have many annoyances in the world of sports.

Here's his friend and confidante, commentator Frank Deford.

FRANK DEFORD reporting:

The Sports Curmudgeon has been very much of an international sophisticate this summer, watching all the events from Europe: the World Cup, Wimbledon, the British Open, the Tour de France. The sports curmudgeon particularly enjoyed the World Cup, the brotherhood of nations all coming together, the grand festivities, the good German beer.

But, says the Sports Curmudgeon, what a shame we had to go and spoil it all by playing soccer games.

The Sports Curmudgeon reserves a special head-butt to the sternum for all baseball players who wear their pants hanging down to their shoes. The Sports Curmudgeon says nobody should pay to see anybody playing games in their pajamas.

Well, the Sports Curmudgeon is usually a gracious gentleman. He is sick and tired of Michelle Wie trying to make the cut at PGA tournaments. This act has turned into a tired and pathetic sideshow. In his most avuncular tone, the Sports Curmudgeon says, hey, Michelle, first beat the girls. Then maybe you can try and beat the boys.

The sports curmudgeon is a man of great patience. But he has finally had it up to here with Chicago Cub fans. After 98 years of the Cubs not winning, the Sports Curmudgeon says, continuing to go to Wrigley Field is not a sign of loyalty; it is a sign of stupidity. Would you keep going to a service station that damaged your car? Would you keep going to a cleaners that ruined your shirts? Fool me once, shame on the Cubbies. Fool me 98 years in a row, shame on me.

The Sports Curmudgeon wonders, where did this excuse come from whereupon any jerk in sports can be let off the hook because he is just being his own stupid self? That apparently started with Charles Barkley. Oh, that's just Charles being Charles! Or, now, oh, that's just Ozzie(ph), being Ozzie. Or, that's just Manny being Manny. Shaking his wise old head, the Sports Curmudgeon says, this is an alibi? Did anybody ever say, oh, that's just Machiavelli being Machiavelli? Oh, that's just Jack the Ripper being Jack the Ripper? Only in sports.

You know what term the Sports Curmudgeon is tired of in sports? Well, besides, walk-off homerun? Touches. I didn't get me enough touches. They've got to get me my touches. The Sports Curmudgeon says, what kind of sissy word in sports is touch? Let's get back to real He-man sports words like grab and snatch and snare and catch and get a hold of.

The Sports Curmudgeon wonders why we even worry about Barry Bonds passing Babe Ruth and maybe passing Henry Aaron to take the homerun record. After all, Bonds has hit all his homeruns in the National League, and sagely the Sports Curmudgeon reminds us, hey, it's supposed to be a Major League record. Who says the National League is a Major League anymore?

The Sports Curmudgeon doesn't care if he's made you mad at what he said, because the Sports Curmudgeon allows, with a wry grin, that's just the Sports Curmudgeon being the Sports Curmudgeon.

MONTAGNE: The comments of Frank Deford, alter ego of the Sports Curmudgeon, and senior contributing writer at Sports Illustrated. He joins us each Wednesday from member station WSHU in Fairfield, Connecticut.

This is MORNING EDITION from NPR News. I'm Renee Montagne.

DON GONYEA, host:

And I'm Don Gonyea.

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Sweetness And LightSweetness And Light The Score On Sports With Frank Deford