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Scott Ostler

This Guy Doesn't Pull Any Punches--That's Dangerous

February 19, 1986

Dear Answer Man . . .

Mike Tyson, the young heavyweight, has knocked out all 18 of his professional opponents. After his last KO, Tyson explained: "I always try to catch them right on the tip of the nose because I try to push the bone into the brain." I would call Tyson savage, barbaric, sadistic. What would you call him?

A scientific fighter.

Seriously, Answer Man, do you think Tyson's strategy will carry him to the heavyweight championship?

No, Tyson's attack is too limited. His knockout punch works only on an opponent who has both a nose and a brain.

What is the most useless statistic in all of sports?

Easily the most useless statistic is pro basketball's won-lost records of national anthem performers. There is no correlation between who sings or plays the Star Spangled Banner and which team wins. However, teams are very superstitious and they pay close attention to this silly statistic. The Philadelphia 76ers, for example, relied for years on the good luck of saxophonist Grover Washington Jr., until Grover and the 76ers lost to the Lakers in the '80 NBA final.

The 76ers then drafted an accordion player and waived Washington. These days Grover is playing the anthem for the Idaho Tater Tots of the Continental Basketball League and Storm Door Company, hoping to blow his way back to the big leagues.

Say it ain't so, 'Man. I was just starting to gain admiration for Jim McMahon, the legendary carouser, then I read about how he is a fine family man who doesn't even keep beer in his house. Is this for religious reasons or health reasons?

It's for space reasons. McMahon keeps beer in his back yard, in a grain silo that has been converted into a tapper.

I was worried about the University of Tennessee, after reports that athletes there had received cash and gifts from boosters. But now I see that the school president has launched an internal investigation. Surely this will be a ruthless and fair investigation, right?

Yes, but it may take awhile. Right now the president is busy investigating himself after hearing rumors that he had fudged on his income tax return. He is also serving 30 days in jail after turning himself in for running a red light last June.

Greg Brock lost his salary arbitration case and now he's upset because, during the hearing, Dodger attorney Bob Walker claimed that Brock still has to prove to the Dodgers that he can hit left-handers. Brock hit .178 vs. lefties last season. What more proof do the Dodgers need?

The Dodgers are a very tough, demanding organization. For example, they require their first baseman to hit his weight against righties and lefties. So, going to spring training, Brock has an option: Either improve his hitting, or eat nothing but Tommy Lasorda's leftovers.

What's the title of the New England Patriots' new musical video?

"The Super Bowl Sniffle."

What method of treatment is most effective in helping a problem user kick the cocaine habit?

Many users report that they lose their desire to snort cocaine ever again after sparring two or three rounds with Mike Tyson.

The Cincinnati Reds invited Rollie Fingers to spring training, on the condition that he shave his handlebar mustache. Will he do it?

No way. Fingers has had that mustache since birth, and fears he wouldn't recognize himself without it. So he's waiting for tryout offers from other clubs. Meanwhile, he's staying in shape by riding a bicycle that has mustache handlebars.

Is Spud Webb the shortest slam-dunker of all time?

Not even close. The shortest was 5-foot-1 Toulouse (the Mousse) Lautrec, power forward for the old Paris Cabaret Hoppers. Lautrec's specialty was a soaring, 360-degree reverse known as le in-your-hair eclair. A remarkable dunk, even given the fact the baskets back then were six feet high.

Golfer Craig Stadler stays in shape during the winter by going big-game hunting. Is this really an activity that would improve physical fitness?

It sure is. I lost five pounds one week stalking all over town trying to bag the elusive "Trivial Pursuit."

Billy Martin has been hired to join the Yankees' TV announcing crew, and he said, "I'm gonna be able to do something I've always wanted to do--tell you what I really feel." Will Billy handle the job?

Sure. This is the chance he's been waiting for. The man must have gone through hell all these years, keeping his feelings and emotions under wraps.

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