September 16 - Potent Quotables
Today’s athletes are a rare breed. They’re accountants first, athletes second, and a very select few
feel the urge to moonlight as philosophers. Lucky for us. It is with the latter in mind that I present
some of my favorite sports quotes from the past thirty years. Sorry Yogi.
"If I was playing in New York they'd name a candy bar after me."
- Reginald Martinez Jackson
All right, so Reggie uttered these words thirty-two years ago while playing in
Oakland, my bad. This is still some of the best self-promotion in recent
memory, right up there with the Freddie Mitchell’s (conspicuously absent from
both this list and NFL rosters) of the sports world. In fact, if anything these
overly gregarious athletes are Jackson’s contemporaries, so overcome with
their own abilities that they feel obligated to continuously remind the public of
how much better than us they are.
"When you unwrap a Reggie bar, it tells you how good it is."
- James Augustus “Catfish” Hunter
One of the greats both on the mound and off it, Catfish concocted the perfect reply to Reggie’s
aforementioned boast. Once Jackson joined the Pinstripers his talent and conceit waged a war with
teammates and fans alike, but with the help of quick-witted veterans, such as Hunter, the Yankees
were able to put aside their squabbles and win back to back Series in ‘78 and ’79. By the way Reg,
Thurman was, and always will be, the straw.
“Lady, I’m not an athlete, I’m a ballplayer”
- John Martin Kruk
This was stated in response to a female fan chastising Kruk for smoking a cigarette, an act she felt
should not be perpetrated by a professional athlete. Kruk is one of the games great personalities,
and now one of sports televisions. After leaving The Worst Damn Sports Show, Period, Kruk quickly
gained the spotlight once again by becoming the only member of ESPN’s “Baseball Tonight” that still
has a pulse. In all fairness to the show, I did see Orestes Destrade tonight, erasing a solitary name
from my list of people I never thought I’d see again. On deck, Mackey Sasser.
“Kids are great. That's one of the best things about our business, all the kids you
get to meet. It's a shame they have to grow up to be regular people and come to
the games and call you names.”
- Charles Wade Barkley
A bit of profundity from the “Round Mound” himself. The eerie aspect of this
statement is upon reading it, I immediately recognized the overwhelming verity of
it. I remember, in my younger days, worshipping men like Pat Kelly and Hensley
“Bam Bam” Meulens, who I would undoubtedly jeer today. I think I’ll take the high
road here and blame that on George, who was much stingier with his “warrior”
dubbing in those days.
“If y'all see me in the news, and I make the news for something that I ain't got no business making it
for, don't bash me. Say it was a young guy living.”
- Clinton Portis
Portis unleashed this beast while being questioned about his off-season plans at the end of the ’04
season. I’m not exactly sure how to take this, but since Clint stayed out of the headlines I’ll opt for in
stride. The “ain’t” notwithstanding, Clinton’s point is earnest and unmistakable. I’m young, loaded,
and free from mandatory drug testing for the next four months. Viva la NFL! If I came up with this
retort after my mother had asked about my summer plans, believe me, this young guy would no
longer be living.
“Anybody with ability can play in the big leagues. To last as long as I did with the skills I had, with the
numbers I produced, was a triumph of the human spirit."
- Robert George Uecker
Uecker provides us with a much needed dose of self-deprecation. Much more successful after he
hung ‘em up, Bob’s retirement has consisted of co-“starring” in “Mr. Belvedere” and several stints as
the Indians play by play man Harry Doyle in the “Major League” movies. He’s also a Hall of Fame
broadcaster for the Brewers, and one of the funniest men in the game.
Well, that about wraps her all up. “The post game show is brought to you by…Christ, I can’t find it. To
hell with it.”