Quitters never win

SPORTS PLUS

winners never quit

In clutch moments, sports figures shift language into reverse

July 16, 2000|By Andy Knobel

If sports corrupts language, language can also corrupt sports.

It's an interesting thought, not to mention a correct use of the literary device called chiasmus - a reversal in the order of words in two otherwise parallel phrases.

Never heard of chiasmus? It's the basis of a wonderfully complete and completely wonderful new book, "Never Let a Fool Kiss You or a Kiss Fool You," by Mardy Grothe, and it's as prevalent in locker rooms across the country as are cliches.

Well, almost.

Anyway, here are some examples from his book and Web site, www.chiasmus.com. We'd rather you look them over than overlook them.

"I spent 12 years training for a career that was over in a week. Joe spent one week training for a career that lasted 12 years." - Former decathlete Bruce Jenner, comparing his and former quarterback Joe Namath's careers.

"When a defining moment comes along, you define the moment, or the moment defines you." - Kevin Costner, in the 1996 golf movie "Tin Cup."

"Rugby is a beastly game played by gentlemen; soccer is a gentlemen's game played by beasts." - Henry Blaha

"Joe Schultz would have been a better manager if he understood more. Of course, if he understood more, he might not have been a manager." - Jim Bouton on the 1969 Seattle Pilots manager.

"A championship team without a sure Hall of Famer had added a sure Hall of Famer without a championship." - Gerry Callahan, when the New York Yankees acquired pitcher Roger Clemens.

"It's not the size of the dog in the fight, it's the size of the fight in the dog." - Two-time Heisman Trophy winner Archie Griffith.

"The course is playing the players instead of the players playing the course." - Walter Hagen at the 1951 U.S. Open.

"I can think of more pitchers who have been seriously hurt by batted balls than I can of batters that have been hurt by pitched balls." - Brooklyn Dodgers' Kirby Higbe on the danger of the brushback pitch.

"There are some fielders who can make the impossible catch look ordinary and some the ordinary catch look impossible." - Hall of Fame manager Joe McCarthy.

"To finish first, you must first finish." - Former auto racer Rick Mears.

"I am a victim of circumference. When I stand close enough to the ball to reach it, I can't see it. When I see it, I can't reach it." - Restaurateur Toots Shor on his golf swing.

"A ballplayer could go to college and be a sportswriter. But what writer could be a ballplayer?" - Former manager Billy Martin.

"Abner Doubleday didn't invent baseball. Baseball invented Abner Doubleday." - Author Harold Peterson on the man who allegedly invented the sport.

"Baseball is too much of a sport to be a business and too much of a business to be a sport." - Former Chicago Cubs owner Philip K. Wrigley.

"When the hole is back here, I'm down there. When the hole is down there, I'm up here." - Golfer Chi Chi Rodriguez.

"He can beat your'n with his'n, and he can beat his'n with your'n." - Bum Phillips on fellow former NFL coach Don Shula.

"Throw it here when they're lookin' there; throw it there when they're lookin' here." - Hall of Fame pitcher Satchel Paige.

"I beat boxing; boxing didn't beat me." - Muhammad Ali.

"I'm not the manager because I'm always right, but I'm always right because I'm the manager." - Former manager Gene Mauch.

"Failing to prepare is preparing to fail." - Hall of Fame basketball coach John Wooden.

"In the '70s I threw in the 90s; in the '90s I threw in the 70s." - Former pitcher Frank Tanana.

"We get baseball weather in football season, and football weather in baseball season." - Columnist Herb Caen on San Francisco.

"Golfers find it a very trying matter to turn at the waist, more particularly if they have a lot of waist to turn." - 1900 U.S. Open winner Harry Vardon.

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