Clara consults the dictionary

November 23, 1995|By Milton Bates

THERE WAS the elderly Eastside equine connoisseur, Fats Drobnak, at Claddagh's Pub Monday. Dollar-a-draft night, and thus unsurprising. Thanksgiving, I observed, approaches. What provides you cause for gratitude this year?

''Sure wasn't the filly in the 7th at Laurel on Satiddy. Led all the way til she seen the finish line and then like ta go in reverse. Women, go trust 'em.''

Alas, the sport of kings is fraught with uncertainty. 'Twas ever thus.

''Watch your langwidge, OK?''

Sorry. But surely there is much for which to be grateful as the holiday nears?

The Simkins mess

''Yeah, that Simkins mess is over leavin' aside the supermarket rags which they don't want to let go of it plus a slew of million dollar book deals. Still, I get a better shot to get aholt of the remote from Clara now so thass good.''

Odd, I felt sure that you, a sports enthusiast, would have cited the coming of the Cleveland Browns as cause for unmitigated celebration. Am I right?

''Wrong. I'm fer a team but not them. Useta feel holy goin' inta men's rooms with Irsay's pixchers in 'em. Figured I was doin' my duty two ways. An' plenty in Hollantown is with me. That team shows, it's got a stigmatism on it from the break.''

But after more than a decade in the pro football wilderness, we are richly entitled to re-enter the promised land, are we not?

A matter of entitlement

''We entitled to the game, them to the name. Way I see it, it's deejayvoo all over again.''

Pardon me?

''Look, kid, when we got back in the baseball majors, how'd that happen?''

Give me a moment, Fats. That was 40 years ago and I'm not as ancient as you.

''Not as smart, neither. Took the St. Louis team, big losers which went by name of the Browns. Ring a bell?''

Ah, ha. You're right, old buddy. But with that franchise as perennial doormat and our proud history in both the old majors and minors as the Baltimore Orioles, there was good reason to abandon the team's name.

''Bigger reason to let the name stay if they'd ever been winners. Who knows better'n us? Say 'Colts' an' we still think about the guys who win it all in '59 lot more than the bunch that scuzball owner loaded onta Mayflowers. They was runnin' bad at the end an' all of '83 we turned out under 300 thou at home.''

What exactly is your point, Fats?

''Two. First, the Browns name don't belong here an' ever'body who's worth anything but Guv Glendummy knows it. Graham, Jim Brown, Groza, Motley -- they ain't no more part of us than Johnny U an' Lenny and Big Art is part of Indy. Second, while we was slippin' under 30,000 a game, fans in Cleveland, workin' stiffs mostly, still turnin' out almost seventy to freeze on that lake while mostly seein' losers. They bein' shafted.''

Wrong, my friend. This franchise has always fielded contenders.

''For 40 years, yeah. In the '90s, they're 38 and 53 to this day. Look it up. Hey, you're talkin' to a guy unnerstans the Racing Form. I can count.''

But don't you see the economic benefits flowing from the move?

''To Modell, sure. I love the part about the front money, the PSLs. Pay, Suckers, Like-it-or-not, is what I call it. Get in one long line, pony up about fifteen hunnert on an average, which lets you get in the back of another and fork over more. Gingrinch couldn't come up with anything better'n 'at.''

Remember the Rhinos

Assuming you are correct. Fats, what do we do for a name when the time comes? Remember the brouhaha about the Rhinos?

''Sure do but no problem. Wasn't my idea, though, it was Clara's. Smart girl, good with words. Make it the Balmer Coursers.''

Run that by me again?

''Can't get the Colts back but check the dictionary. She did. 'Courser -- a swift horse.' Right on the mark.''

Takes one aback at first, and yet . . . I'll mull on it. Fats. Meanwhile, Happy Turkey Day to you and your bride. (Hmmmm, gimme a ''C'').

Milton Bates writes from Baltimore.

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