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Scott Ostler

Almost Anything Goes, Just So Long as You Gotta Do It

November 04, 1987|Scott Ostler

It was a lousy strike the National Football League players and owners put on this season, rating real low in entertainment and accomplishment. But it wasn't a total loss. The strike popularized a handy phrase that can be used by anybody to completely justify any action. I've tried it. It works.

New England Patriots cornerback Raymond Clayborn used a variation of the phrase in explaining why he crossed the picket line. "People know I did what I had to do."

Typical conversation between a striker and a player deciding to cross the picket line:

Crosser: "I've gotta do what I've gotta do."

Striker: "Hey, you do what you gotta do."

Crosser: "Got to."

Striker: "So do it."

Crosser: "So be it. Uh, do what?"

Striker: "What you gotta do."

Crosser: "Whatta I gotta do?"

Striker: "I forget."

Crosser: "Me too. Hey, y'know, whatever."

Striker: "Hey."

The Dodgers have taken a lot of heat for their oft mind-boggling personnel decisions, or non-decisions. However, let's give them some credit for two recent hirings--Tommy Hawkins as vice president of communications and Don Drysdale as radio and TV announcer.

Hawkins happens to be ideally suited to a high-level job dealing with the media and the public. And Drysdale is a rare commodity--an announcer with an on-the-air personalty that doesn't have you reaching for your ball peen hammer by the third inning.

To those moves, add the decisive termination of Kenny Landreaux and Phil Garner, and you've got a solid four-ply swat by management. Maybe the Dodgers, after all, do have a shred of compassion for their long-suffering fans.

The Eric Dickerson trade is interesting, but Exhibit A in the case of Ram football players vs. Ram management is cornerback LeRoy Irvin.

He's in his eighth season, his fifth as a starter. Until recently, he also ran back kicks. He was the team's MVP in '85 and a Pro Bowl selection the last two seasons. And this season he has a contract for $275,000.

If Irvin played for the Raiders, or any one of 26 or so other teams, he would be making three times that amount.

Right, I know. He signed the contract. Nobody held a gun to his head. Blah, blah, blah.

But he's a very good player. He is grossly underpaid.

Earth to Georgia . . . Earth to Georgia . . .

The football play-by-play announcer describes a play. There is a penalty flag. The announcer obviously doesn't like the call.

"There's room for debate on that one," the announcer says, his voice full of reproach.

Nothing unusual about this. Except that the penalty is called against the New England Patriots and the announcer is paid by the Los Angeles Raiders.

The announcer is Bill King. Aside from being a good football announcer, King is honest. It's very hard to tell which team he's rooting for. Maybe neither. Sort of like a real reporter. Highly unusual.

An exchange between play-by-play man Jack Buck and analyst Bill White on the radio broadcast of the seventh game of the World Series, after replays clearly show that an umpire has blown a crucial call.

Buck: "Well, those things even out over the course of the season."

White (incredulously): "Even out? This is the seventh game of the World Series !"

Now Peter Ueberroth defends his stand against incorporating instant replay to assist umpires in the playoffs and Series by noting that the umps had called "six perfect games."

Six out of seven is one too few.

Pete, if you're not going to allow instant replay, can you at least put the umpires on a diet? I know this is a sensitive area, but some of the umps look like they're competing in a Juan Berenguer look-alike contest.

For a big league umpire, stamina would seem to be an important asset, and nimbleness afoot would also seem to be fairly vital. I'd feel better about an ump's chances of being in the right position to make the call if he wasn't 50 to 60 pounds overweight.

But, hey, you gotta eat what you gotta eat.

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