Toronto: Stop the 'chop,' end snowin' in Atlanta

MIKE ROYKO

October 23, 1992|By MIKE ROYKO

At the risk of being labeled an un-American swine, I admit to cheering for the baseball team representing Toronto, Canada, to beat the baseball team representing Atlanta, Georgia, U.S.A.

Many people feel strongly about this. They believe our national prestige and self-esteem will suffer if a team from a foreign land takes our baseball championship away.

But before accusing me of treason, hear my reasons.

To begin, there is Ted Turner, owner of the Atlanta team, and his wife, Jane Fonda. During one of the playoff games they fell asleep. In the best seats in the house, with millions watching on TV, they nodded off.

Sure, they are a glamorous couple, so they might have been exhausted from staying up half the night staring admiringly at themselves in a mirror. But true baseball fans stay awake, even the drunks. So these two snoozers don't deserve a world champion team.

Nor do the fans in Atlanta, with their Indian tomahawk chop and the terrible noise they make, like a giant herd of pregnant moo-cows.

That's no way to cheer at a baseball game. Traditional fans yell insults at umpires, question the manhood of the other pitcher and demand that their own manager be fired for stupidity. They don't moan like they have a gastric disorder.

One can imagine this sort of thing spreading to other cities. How would it look if 45,000 Milwaukee Brewers fans suddenly pretended to be drinking a stein of beer, then emitted a great, collective belch?

Or if fans in San Diego began wailing the Lord's Prayer, or Boston's faithful all stood on their heads and proudly thrust one red-socked foot into the air?

You don't see fans of the Toronto Blue Jays flapping their arms and crying: "Caw, caw" or whatever blue jays say when they are excited.

That's because the biggest single ethnic group in Toronto is the English. And they tend to be restrained and say things like, "good show," or "jolly fine catch, that."

Let us also address the question of a foreign city in a foreign country winning our baseball championship.

It really shouldn't matter, since most of the players on both teams are either from this country or Latin America. In fact, one of the Toronto stars went on TV after they won the playoffs and said: "People say boo-hays are chokers. Now we prove boo-hays no choke."

When he said that, I asked someone at the bar what a boo-hay was.

"A boo-hay," a knowledgeable fan told me, "is a Blue Jay with an accent."

Well, I have known many Canadians, but that was the first time I heard an accent of that sort.

"He is not Canadian," the knowledgeable fan told me. "He is Puerto Rican, and in Puerto Rico a Blue Jay is a boo-hay."

It just demonstrates how truly international a game baseball has become and why we should not be alarmed if a team from a foreign city and a foreign country takes our crown. Here we have a member of the Blue Jays who can't even say Blue Jays. He would probably pronounce Toronto as Tonto, like the Lone Ranger's old sidekick: "I play for Tonto's Boo-Hays." So if it doesn't matter to him if he is a star for the Toronto Blue Jays or Tonto's Boo-Hays, why should we be concerned?

Besides, Toronto isn't really that foreign. I've been there and I had no trouble understanding what anyone was saying. For foreigners, they speak excellent English.

I've spent a lot of time in Georgia, too, and have felt the need for an interpreter.

For example, one Georgian complained to me that he had been in a movie theater and he was bothered because someone sitting near him had been "snowin'."

"Snowing in a movie theater?" I asked.

"Yep," he said. "Sittin' there with his mowf open and snowin'."

"His mowf?"

"Yep, mowf open and snowin'."

Someone with a keen ear for that dialect interceded and explained to me that when someone is snowing with his mowf open, it means he has fallen asleep, his jaw has dropped and he is snoring.

Which is my final reason for wanting Toronto to win. And as quickly as possible, so the Series doesn't return to Atlanta.

It would not do this country's image any good for the sporting world to see Jane Fonda with her mowf open, snowin'.

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