Things were so slow at the baseball meetings in San Diego that one day Frank Dolson of the Philadelphia Inquirer wound up doing his entire column on Steve Garvey and Tom Lasorda exchanging insults in a skit they put on at a charity dinner in La Jolla. Sample barbs:
Lasorda: "There's talk about this guy becoming a U.S. senator. When he becomes a U.S. senator, I'm buying Russian war bonds."
Garvey: "Tommy really has a one-track mind, and the traffic on it is very light. He's one guy who has a sixth sense, but there's no evidence of the other five."
Lasorda told this one on his old first baseman: "One time, he comes to me and he said, 'Skip, I've got a problem. I've got this car I'm trying to sell. It's got 100,000 miles on it and nobody'll buy it.'
"I said, 'Let me give you a little advice. Jack it up, run the mileage back and when you get to 10,000, stop and you'll see a lot of people will want to buy it.'
"He comes to the ballpark four days later and says, 'Hey, Skip, that was a great idea.'
"I said, 'Did you move it back to 10,000 miles?' He said, 'Yeah, I did.' I said, 'Well, did you sell it?'
"He said, 'Are you kidding me? I'm not selling a car that's got only 10,000 miles on it.' "
Trivia Time: Has anybody ever coached football teams that won both national collegiate and NFL championships? (Answer below.)
Former New York Yankee catcher Johnny Blanchard told Charley Walters of the St. Paul Pioneer Press that he knew Roger Maris would be a star in 1955 when Blanchard was with Binghamton (N.Y.) and Maris with Reading (Pa.).
Blanchard: "After the 1959 season, when the Chicago White Sox beat us out, I heard on the radio that Maris had been traded to the Yankees. The next morning, I went down and bought a new Pontiac Ventura. My wife said, 'How are you going to pay for that?' I said, 'It's paid for right now. We just got Roger Maris.'
"Then I went to the bank and said, 'I'll make monthly payments on the car until October, then pay it all off with one check. That trade for Roger just put us in the World Series.' "
Utah Jazz Coach Frank Layden, on his boyhood in Brooklyn: "I was 18 years old before I found out that the cops were paid by the city, too."
When Mychal Thompson was a senior at the University of Minnesota, Kevin McHale was a sophomore.
Recalling their one-on-one duels, Thompson said: "I used to win those matches. He was a young boy then, and I sort of took him to school. He's graduated now. In fact, he's going for his Ph.D."
From New England tackle Brian Holloway, recalling a 35-20 loss to the Raiders in September: "That's a big advantage for us. Losses don't sit well with the Patriots. It's going to be a street fight, but we welcome that because we can play that kind of football."
Add Patriots: Says defensive line coach Ed Khayat: "It is wrong to call our unit a defensive team. We are an attacking team. We believe that football is a game of controlled violence. Defenders build bunkers and try not to lose any ground. Attackers try to destroy everything in their way. That's the way we are playing this year."
Trivia Answer: Yes. Paul Brown. He coached Ohio State to an NCAA title in 1942 and the Cleveland Browns to three NFL titles in the 1950s.
University of Washington Coach Don James on the subject of bowl arrival times: "We arrived early (Dec. 21 for the Freedom Bowl), which was good. If you get to the bowl site early, the players go after the girls right away and spend all their money. After that, they have to stay in their hotel room and concentrate on football."