The subject was holiday dinners, and Ira Berkow of the New York Times recalled the story that the late Danny Murtaugh used to tell about his three daughters when Murtaugh managed the Pittsburgh Pirates.
"One Christmas," Murtaugh said, "all three came to dinner with their husbands. When it came time to sit down at the table, I said I had something to tell the family.
"I told them my wife and I missed the patter of little feet around the house, and we'd talked it over. I told them I'd made a lot of money that year, and we'd decided to give $7,500 to the first grandchild in the family.
"Then," Murtaugh said, "I lowered my head to say grace. When I looked up, only my wife and I were there."
Wrote Ken Denlinger of the Washington Post, in predicting that the New England Patriots and San Francisco 49ers will win the weekend games at the Meadowlands: "The stomach-turning possibility of two New Jersey teams in the Super Bowl gets squished very quickly."
Trivia Time: Name the only coach who has coached teams from both the Pacific 10 and the Big Ten in the Rose Bowl. (Answer below.)
Are computers smarter than people? Frank Layden, coach of the Utah Jazz, says they are. "Not once have I ever seen one jogging," he said.
ABC's Beano Cook has been ripped in this space for his predictions, but it turns out that he came through with flying colors on one.
After the second week of the season, he predicted that Oklahoma and Penn State would play for the national championship.
Cook's Rose Bowl prediction: UCLA, 28, Iowa 21.
Tony Kornheiser of the Washington Post, on the voice of Dave (The Zink) Zinkoff, longtime public address announcer for the Philadelphia 76ers who died Wednesday: "It reverberated through an arena like 100 fur-lined trombones. He didn't just say a name, he caressed it: Julius Errrrrrrrvvving."
Some Zinkisms: "Two for Shue" (for Gene's baskets); "Dipper Dunk" (for Wilt, of course); "Wally, by golly" (for Wally, later Wali Jones); "Gola Goal" (for Tom, Philly's home-grown darling); "Ohl Goal" (for Don); "Basket by Heard, of Buffalo" (when Garfield Heard played for the Braves); "Malone, Alone" (when Moses scored, unassisted).
Add Zinkoff: "He was probably the only P.A. announcer to ever receive an ovation for a No Smoking message," Kornheiser said. "He'd say, 'Thank you for nahhhhhhhhhtttt smo-king. . . . But if you must smoke, please donn't ex-hale.'
"A favorite Zinkism was his announcement of a particular car in the parking lot left with its lights on and its motor running. If no one went to that car's aid in the next few minutes, Zink would say, 'Your motor is still running, but your lights are getting dimmmmmmmmmer,' his voice trailing off icily at the end."
Oklahoma's Brian Bosworth, first winner of the Butkus Award as the nation's outstanding college linebacker, gets himself up for big games by barking like a dog in the locker room.
He told John Ed Bradley of the Washington Post: "I don't want to say that I like to go out and abuse people, but I really do."
Trivia Answer: Pete Elliott. He coached Cal in 1959 and Illinois in 1964. The Bears, quarterbacked by Joe Kapp, lost to Iowa, 38-12. Illinois, led by fullback Jim Grabowski and linebacker Dick Butkus, beat Washington, 17-7.
Michael Cooper of the Lakers, hearing that John Bagley of the Cleveland Cavaliers had renegotiated his contract: "When he signed that contract, John went from Bags to riches."