With big cuts, punsters hit wordplay HRs


But language also a fence that some sports figures are unable to clear

September 09, 2001|By Andy Knobel | Andy Knobel,SUN STAFF

Most major-league bats are made from white ash, but the San Francisco Giants' Barry Bonds has his made from sugar maple wood.

"If Bonds breaks Mark McGwire's [home run] record, will he get an ash-terisk next to it?" Bert Sugar asks in SportsBusiness Journal.

Sugar's play on words shows he's a sportswriter with good punmanship.

Some others in his company:

Tom FitzGerald of the San Francisco Chronicle, who wrote of the NBA's repeatedly fining Dallas Mavericks owner Mark Cuban for blasting the officiating: "If this keeps up, we may have a Cuban whistle crisis on our hands."

The Toronto Star's Garth Woolsey, who suggests a title for a book on baseball's rising payrolls: "Scrutiny of the Bounty."

Keep on truc-ing

But some media members are too smart for their own good.

In the late 1970s, broadcasters Al Michaels, Howard Cosell and Bob Uecker did Monday-night baseball games for ABC. Michaels recently recalled a game during which Uecker chided Cosell for saying something outrageous.

Responded Cosell: "Ueck, you don't have to get so truculent. You do know what truculent means?"

Uecker, without missing a beat, answered: "Of course, Howard. If you had a truck and I borrowed it, it would be a truck you lent."

New York state of mind

Like Uecker, Jerry Seinfeld is a comedian who is used to getting the last laugh.

Hearing that last year's Subway Series between the Mets and Yankees was about "bragging rights" in New York, Seinfeld said: "Like anyone in this city waits to be given the right before they start bragging."

You don't say, or shouldn't

Other sports figures are more likely to mangle the language and add to life's general confusion:

"I don't believe we ain't going to win." - Rickey Henderson, when he joined the San Diego Padres this season.

"Perception is reality but it may not be actuality, and you have got to be able to keep the difference between that." - Pittsburgh Steelers coach Bill Cowher.

"We got that skeleton off our back." - St. Louis quarterback Kurt Warner after the Rams swept the San Francisco 49ers in 1999.

"We kind of dug ourselves in a coma and couldn't come out of it." - Former Carolina Panthers center Frank Garcia.

"If they smell a rat, they have to nip it in the bud." - Royals manager Tony Muser, after Kansas City's Chad Durbin was warned for hitting a batter with a pitch.

"I'll tackle that bridge when I get to it." - Cleveland Indians manager Charlie Manuel.

"I'm going to let the chips fall where they lay." - Manuel again.

Learning him his experience

From the "If You Can't Imitate Him, Don't Copy Him" file, President Bush recently paid tribute to Hall of Fame catcher Yogi Berra, who is known, like Bush, to mangle a sentence and mix a metaphor.

"Yogi has been an inspiration to me - not only because of his baseball skills - but, of course, for his enduring mark he left on the English language. Some of the press corps even think he might be my speechwriter," Bush said.

After all, everyone knows that half of being president is 90 percent mental.

Compiled from wire reports and Web sites.

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