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SI FOR KIDS
A survival guide for the silly season
Posted: Wed April 8, 1998
All right, class, come to order. On the sports calendar, from March Madness and the Masters to the Indy 500 and the Stanley Cup, this is the most crowded time of the year. Moreover, since the fall of Communism, since Monica Lewinsky stopped talking to Linda Tripp and since there is simply no more that anybody can possibly say about the Titaniclet's face itthere is nothing going on in the world except sports.
So, if you don't know diddly about sports, if you can't contribute wise sports clichés to everyday banal conversations, then you are on the outside looking in, a social misfit, out to lunch. If you think you might need a little remedial help to become part of the in crowd, you've come to the right place. Yes, it's time for Everything you ever wanted to ask about sports but were afraid to know.
The seminar today deals only with current events:
Baseball. There's only one subject that matters in baseballwhether or not Roger Maris' home run record will fall this year. The conventional wisdom is that it will. So, here's all you need to say whenever the subject comes up: "The pitching is so diluted now, and what with expansion, a player like Mark McGwire will be hitting against some real patsies."
Extra cliché credit: Mention the thin air in Denver and Phoenix. Then refer to the "El Niño effect." You can't go wrong mentioning the weather in 1998.
Basketball. As in baseball, there's only one subject that matters in basketball: Michael Jordan. Will the Chicago Bulls kiss and make up with him, so that he returns next season? Nobody appears to have a clue, maybe even including Michael Jordan himself, so all you have to do to be part of this intelligent sports discussion is express (a) amazement or (b) outrage, or best of all, a combination thereof. As in: "I can't believe that the Bulls will let Michael go!"
Extra cliché credit: Suggest that Jordan should end his career with the Knicks in Madison Square Garden but be sure to call the Garden "the mecca of basketball."
The Kentucky Derby. Any year, all you have to say to sound très knowledgeable about the Derby is: "We just don't know if these young horses can go the Derby distance, do we?"
Extra cliché credit: Use the word "fire" as a verb. Say: "It all depends on what horse can fire at the top of the stretch."
Hockey. You're off the hook. Wayne Gretzky has been eliminated from the playoffs, so nobody will be talking hockey this spring except in Québec, in French, and in Prague, in Czech.
The NFL Draft. Everybody knows that two quarterbacksPeyton Manning and Ryan Leafwill be drafted one-two. All you have say is either, "Leaf has the stronger armand that's what wins games," or, "Manning sure has the pedigreeand that's what counts in the red zone."
Extra cliché credit: Declare, "I always say: draft the best athlete, regardless of position." If you feel really cocky, declare, "I always say: draft the best athlete, irregardless of position"the way real football insiders do.
OK, now all you sports un-fans are up to speed for the spring. Be sure to tune in again this fall for another edition of Everything you've always wanted to ask about sports but were afraid to know, when you'll learn how to discuss the baseball playoffs by saying: "In a short series, anything can happen."
These commentaries, which appear each Wednesday on National Public Radio's Morning Edition, are posted weekly by CNN/SI.
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