Etiquette class makes manners a can of corn

Sports Plus

Rangers rookies step to the plate, take cuts with proper silverware

March 25, 2001|By Andy Knobel | Andy Knobel,SUN STAFF

Texas Rangers rookie Scott Heard knew exactly what to do with his linen napkin, but the soup bowl and forks threw him completely off base.

"I wasn't sure where you put them when you're done," he told the Fort Worth (Texas) Star-Telegram.

But by the end of an etiquette workshop last month at The Ballpark in Arlington, Heard and 19 other Rangers rookies could sit down to dinner with Miss Manners herself and never have to worry about using the fish fork for dessert or mistaking the finger bowl for soup.

Thank fashion and etiquette specialist Susan Huston for that.

During three hours, she covered everything from what to wear and when to turn off a cell phone to how to eat at a formal dinner.

"You're all going to be famous someday," she told the group at The Ballpark's Gold Club. "When you're having dinner in the White House, remember me."

The workshop is part of the Texas Ranger Rookie Camp designed by the ballclub to teach young players how to handle themselves off the field. In addition to learning about etiquette, the rookies also take classes on managing money, handling the media and eating nutritious meals.

"It's kind of like a finishing school," said Reid Nichols, Rangers director of player development.

Drop the chalupas and fists

Across town, there was a food fight of sorts over chalupas.

A shoving match between the Mavericks and the Cavaliers broke out at the end of a Feb. 15 game when Dallas tried to reach 100 points in the final seconds of a blowout victory so fans could get coupons for 99-cent chalupas as part of a fast-food promotion.

Mavericks forward Gary Trent was knocked to the floor by the Cavaliers' Wesley Person after Trent's jumper with 3.3 seconds left put Dallas at 100. Person said he went after Trent because he thought the Mavericks had run up the score.

"It's bigger than chalupas," Person said. "Their coach called a play with 10 seconds left in a 20-point game. That's disrespect."

Mavericks interim coach Donnie Nelson dismissed the criticism, saying: "Chalupas are big in Dallas. Look, [Mavericks forward] Eduardo [Najera] and a bunch of Eduardo's cousins would have been waiting out there by my truck if I didn't satisfy those fans."

No Lady Byng winners here

Not everyone in sports got the memo on etiquette and sportsmanship. Just check out Jerkoftheweek.com, a Web site subtitled, "Where Nice Guys Finish Last."

The site is filled with examples of boorishness: the San Jose Sharks' Owen Nolan, who elbowed a player in the neck; the Minnesota Vikings' Chris Walsh, who pleaded guilty to driving with a blood-alcohol level almost three times the legal limit, and the Philadelphia Phillies' Robert Person, who resisted arrest so violently that he had to be hogtied by police.

Among the awards the Web site handed out for 2000:

Billy Martin Coach of the Year Award: Bob Knight.

Tie Domi Brawler of the Year Award: Marty McSorley.

Muhammed Ali Trash-Talker of the Year Award: John Rocker.

Center of his own universe

Will McDonough of the Boston Globe says basketball Hall of Famer Bill Russell wasn't any nicer off the court to people than he was on the court to opponents.

"If all the people who admired him as a player are on hand, the tribute to Bill Russell, the greatest Celtic, will fill the FleetCenter," he wrote last year. "If all of the people he treated well while he played here attend, they could hold it in a phone booth."

Swell guy, the boss

Former California Angels and Rangers manager Doug Rader once said of his personality:

"I usually don't make a good first impression -- or a good second impression. For that matter, I usually come across as a sack of manure."

Nice to know you, too

Raptors owner Allan Slaight on former Toronto guard Damon Stoudamire: "He's a pathetic little twerp who happens to be a good basketball player."

Healing the heel

Washington Wizards forward Christian Laettner, known for his contentious personality, was once asked about his days with the Atlanta Hawks.

Did he have any friends?

"I got along with the trainer," he said.

Compiled from wire reports and Web sites.

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