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

The Sports Curmudgeon: 'With All Due Respect ...'

Alex Rodriguez watches the ball stay fair as Jerry Meals and Jason LaRue look on. i i

Alex Rodriguez (left) of the New York Yankees watches the ball stay fair for his 500th career home run, Aug. 4, 2007, at Yankee Stadium. Home plate umpire Jerry Meals and catcher Jason LaRue of the Kansas City Royals look on. Jim McIsaac/Getty Images hide caption

itoggle caption Jim McIsaac/Getty Images
Alex Rodriguez watches the ball stay fair as Jerry Meals and Jason LaRue look on.

Alex Rodriguez (left) of the New York Yankees watches the ball stay fair for his 500th career home run, Aug. 4, 2007, at Yankee Stadium. Home plate umpire Jerry Meals and catcher Jason LaRue of the Kansas City Royals look on.

Jim McIsaac/Getty Images

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 that allows them to eat all they want. The Sports Curmudgeon grouses: "With all due respect, 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."

The Sports Curmudgeon has never been more upset at baseball players who hit the ball and then stand and admire its flight. "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 don't anymore 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, no, it's not! It's not poetry; it's competition."

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. "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. Me knows he is the biggest jerk in all of 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."

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