Wednesday, June 06, 2007

Mr. Grizzard and Mr. Caputo

As June arrives in Windsor in muggy summer fashion, I sit in my backyard listening to the Tigers game from Arlington, Texas. Tonight we are up 5 - nothing in the top of the fifth.

I'm tapping this into my little PDA. I hope this works.

Ask anyone who knows me, and they will tell you I am a sports freak. I love my baseball, my golf, hockey, and basketball. If the Lions didn't stink so bad, I might go back to loving football too.

Ask anyone who knows me and they will tell you that I actually think I know what I am talking about.

I am right more often than not. That puts me somewhere between 51% and 99% accurate. I can live with those margins.

When I was in university in Georgia, I used to read a sports columnist in the Atlanta Journal Constitution named Lewis Grizzard.

Although he was a sports columnist, he was more of a general humorist. I would buy the whole paper just to read his column. I loved the guy so much that I switched my major to be a journalism major and a poli-sci minor.

Why political science?

It seemed to me that joking about politicians would be funnier than sports. Perhaps - but sports are much more "real". And politicians are too easy to make fun of.

Mr. Grizzard died some time ago. Some would say his lifestyle kIlled him.

I write this blog in the memory of Mr. Grizzard.

I even try to emulate his style.

In Detroit, the best sports columnist is Pat Caputo. He writes for the Oakland Press and has a radio show -The Book on Sports - on 1270 AM.

I have a link to his blog site 'Open Book' on the left sidebar. I post comments quite often to his blog - pretending to be a knowledgeable sports fan, and Pat is very generous in his replies.

In one post, I was actually referred to as one of the great Canadians. Unfortunately he was kidding.

But I am enjoying this blog very much. To all who have been reading, thank you. I will try to do a better and more consistent job.

Below is a Lewis Grizzard Column from the Spring of 1992 - after his beloved Atlanta Braves lost the 1991 World Series to the Minnesota Twins. This is pure Grizzard:

The Boys Of Summer Go Under The Dome
Lewis Grizzard

Baseball season came to a rather rotten end for me in 1991. There I was in Minneapolis's house of horrors, the Metrodome, covering the seventh game of the World Series between Atlanta's Braves (with apologies to the Portland Oregonian) and the Minnesota Twins, a nickname a clever person said was insensitive to couples who couldn't have children.

Around the fifth inning, with no score in the game, the ribbon on my typewriter, which was manufactured sometime around the turn of the century, suddenly wouldn't advance. I couldn't make letters and words appear on the white paper in front of me.

I fiddled with the problem for six more outs and was nearing a panic stage. What if I couldn't figure out a way to free the ribbon?

The game would end and I would have to write my column longhand and I hadn't written anything in longhand since my last essay-type test in college.

And who could I get to help me with the ribbon? Everybody else in the press box was writing on a Star Wars computer. Who would remember about typewriter ribbons?

By the grace of God, I finally hit the right lever inside my typewriter and the ribbon started moving again.

Then the Braves lost 1-0 because Lonnie Smith went brain dead on the base path.

I finished my column and left the Metrodome. Outside, Twins fans were celebrating by doing such things as climbing onto the tops of buses.

I had hired a car and driver to take me back to my hotel.

Some kids had asked my driver for whom he was waiting.

"Some guy from Atlanta," he told them.

When I arrived at the car the kids began heckling me.

"We beat your [bad word]!" one screamed.

"Go home, you redneck!" screamed another.

Once I was inside the car and had locked my doors, they banged on the windows and roof and one of the Norse waifs pressed his nose and mouth on one of the windows.

As I recall the incident now, I think he looked a little like Paul Tsongas.

When I finally reached my hotel, shaken but unscathed, the bar was closed.

I made a mental note that Minnesota calling itself the gopher state was an insult to gophers, and went to sleep.

It is difficult for me to believe the 1992 baseball season is upon us so quickly.

Wasn't the nightmare in Minneapolis just yesterday?

Indeed not. The 1992 Atlanta Braves, defending National League champions, are about to open their season, and many questions arise.

I will attempt to answer some of them:

Can the Braves repeat as National League champions?


You really think so?

If you really must know, I'm extremely concerned about Cincinnati.

What can we expect of David Justice this season?

A lot of pouting when things don't go his way.

Does the team have a drug problem?

Well, they were drug all over the field during spring training but you can't really go by that.

Will the chop come back?

Was Custer surprised at little Big Horn?

Will Jane and Ted have a successful marriage?

Who do I look like, Dear Abby? Let's stick to baseball.

What part of the Braves do you think will be the most improved?

Their bank accounts.

What would you like to see out of Lonnie Smith this season?

An apology.

If the Braves get to the World Series and have to play the Twins again, would you go back to Minneapolis?

If I can take along a typewriter technician, and my own bat.

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