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Defining the latest
buzzwords in sports

Page 2 columnist

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Rolling with Road Dog today. Right now, Dog reminds me of Mouse. Not Mickey Mouse. Wouldn't try to compare Dog to a cartoon character. Not today. The Mouse that Dog reminds me of today is the vengeful, maniacal, trigger-happy sidekick of detective Easy Rawlins in the crime noir of Walt Mosley. You know Mouse? Cheadle played him in "Devil In a Blue Dress." That's Dog today. Wearing a Thousand-Yard Stare.

Dog's a New Yorker. Gotta help Dog, get his mind off things somehow. Ball. The Run. That's how.

***** ***** *****

"Yo, Dog. Help me shine a light on some Current Sports Buzzwords. By cracking the code on these Buzzwords, we might distract ourselves -- plus maybe stop a brawl or two. We don't need to fight each other."

"We need to be fighting, Dub. But not each other."

"I hear you, Dog. Listen up."

Hitters agree: Most umpires wouldn't know a "strike" if they saw one.
"Good word. In big-league baseball. strike is what an ump calls when a pitch is over the plate. Also called stee-rike. Strikes are the reason batters think umps are blind. Supposed to be a new strike zone this year. Same blind umps, say hitters. You're not supposed to argue balls and strikes in the big leagues; nobody ever argues about balls anyway. If you do argue strikes, you can get tossed by the umpires."

"Tossed?" said Dog. "If I'm gettin' tossed, won't be by no ump. I'm doing the tossing."

I was encouraged by Dog speaking up. Maybe I could get the Thousand-Yard Stare off his face.

"The strike you want to avoid is a so-called "players' strike," since the collective bargaining agreement with MLB is up," I said. "Strike should be stricken from the lexicon of baseball labor negotiations. Any sport with no salary cap and a player making $25 million a year -- they need to ban the word strike. And any word that should be banned -- I guess that's what helps make it a Buzzword.

"Strike in football means nothing at all, Dog. Lockout is more their speed, Buzzwise. The NFL locked out their refs; the refs tried to act all stern, but now they'll be back before you can say ...

"Very popular Buzzwords in September and January. For the next several weeks, you won't hear the Buzzwords wild card without hearing National League in front of them. Right, Dog?"

Jason Giambi
You won't hear the word "wild card" mentioned a lot in the AL. That's because it belongs to Jason Giambi and the A's.
No answer.

"Then, come January, the Buzzwords wild card will become real popular again, NFL-wise. It will usually come in a sentence like this. "Teams are scrambling for only one wild-card berth." Wild card teams don't have a place; or a seed, or a seat; they only have a berth. You getting this, Dog?"

No answer. Gotta bring Dog back to the Land of the Living.

What's the Latest Sports Buzzword that will get his attention the fastest?


"Thought that might do the trick, Dog. This word, in its current usage on the street and on high school and college campuses and professional locker rooms, has nothing to do with sexual preference. Confusion over it is what led to a brawl between heavyweight champs Lewis and Rahman on the set of ESPN's Up Close recently. Host Gary Miller asked why Rahman was questioning Lewis' sexuality, because Rahman had said an act of Lewis seemed gay to him. Lewis, a Brit of Caribe extract, who wouldn't know the latest American slang if it tapped him on the shoulder and said, "Ullo," took the bait and said, "Yes, why are you?" Not stopping to think that if a boxer wants to call another boxer a homosexual, his word of choice won't be gay.

Rahman Lewis and Gary Miller
When Lennox Lewis didn't understand Hasim Rahman's use of the word "gay," all hell broke loose on the set of ESPN's "Up Close."
"Rahman said he wasn't speaking about Lewis' sexuality -- he was saying what Lewis had done just seemed gay to him, and then Rahman shrugged. No biggie. No comprendo, on the part of Lewis. He might or might not be a master boxer, he might or might not know much about American slang, but he sure as heckfire no doubt ain't much of a wrestler. Andy Kaufman might have pinned Lennox Lewis. Rahman had no worries. Not yet, anyway. In a slang sense, Rahman didn't mean the kind of harm Lewis thought he did.

"And since the word gay already has been taken over to mean 'homosexual,' and not 'a happy and carefree state,' as it originally meant, or 'the middle name of former Grambling football coach Eddie Robinson,' as it also was first, then no real and final claim can be staked to the word -- or any word, for that matter.

"And so, to today's hip youth, gay means a thing is too kitschy, or awkward, or maybe frivolous. I'm not really sure what they mean by it, but it's something like that. Don't you agree, Dog?"

"Step off, Dub. You ain't telling it right. Look, Page 2 readers, gay don't mean gay, like homosexual gay; like calling people 'sissy' or nothing; gay means kinda polyester, kinda like, unhip, not down ..."

I smiled. Dog was back. "You mean frivolous, or kitschy, don't you, Dog?"

"No, I don't mean ... whatever it was you just said. I mean when these young dudes and honeys like Rahman say a thing is gay, they ain't talking about nothing sex-you-all. Now, sex, they call that ..."

"They do? Where've I been? I thought having sex was called ..."

"Knocking boots is old and played, Dub. Don't nobody say knocking boots no more."

"Getting busy either?"

"... sometimes people still do say getting busy. Tossing is better, though."

"So, when my son told me he was thinking about hooking up with his old girlfriend, he meant ..."


"And when I told that 6-foot leggy model who mistook me for Samuel L. Jackson that I'd get back to her but first I had to hook up with you, she probably thought I was ... oh no, Dog ... oh hell no ..."

"Don't even say gay, Dub, 'cause gay don't even mean homosexual. OK? Gay means ... dorky.

"So you're saying gay as Buzzword means something aesthetically displeasing to the speaker?"

"Whatever. Next."

"That one's older than knocking boots."

"People still use it wrong, Dog, especially in sports. They say, 'Screw Barry Bonds. He's whack.' No, that's what Bonds does, to fastballs, usually; I mean, far as we know. Now, Jim Brown, the ex-NFL star, or Scott Stevens, the Jersey Devils defenseman, neither one of them is really wack, but they'll whack you around at times. Whack is what the Sopranos do for a living to people. To whack a thing is to hit it, or, preferably, kill it. But, if a thing is wack, it's out-of-place, wrong-headed, nonsensical ..."

"You lost me, Dub. Use it in a séance."

"... oh, in a sentence, you mean? OK. Um ... jai alai is wack. "

"Damn. It is, too. That's a good one, Dub-dude."

"You tell 'em, Dog."

Ichiro Suzuki
Ichiro has "crazy, mad, stupid" talent.
"Dub, these words mean good, excellent, A-1, top of the line, state of the art. These is compliments. Stick one in the blanks, and you mackin' and hangin'. 'Ichiro has (blank) talent; can't strike him out, can't get a heater by him, got a (blank) (blank) batting eye, plus he got a (blank) arm, plus he got (blank) speed on the bags, got a (blank) (blank) (blank) following in Japan and up Seattle way, and a (blank) (blank) (blank) fine honey on the side. (Blank) married, though. Ichi-Dude is (blank) big. And baby girl is (blank) fine!"

"Crazy, Dog. Let me say you are crazy, stupid, mad game."

"Dub, you wanna say Dog HAS mad crazy stupid game. And you right. Next."

"That one's old as dirt, too. Lotta buzzwords for sex in sports, huh Dog?"

"Lotta buzzwords for sex everywhere, Dub. But see, people in sports, since they young and strong and ... young ... seem to want to engage in sex more than, like, older people, like, say, men in Congress."

"We might have to rethink that, Dog. Just because you can't do a thing well anymore doesn't mean you stop wanting to. Congress might fool you. Well. Guess we all gotta get those last few hits in before we ..."

"CC is a new one, Dog. Made it up myself. Means "Copy that, Come Together." It means us against some bad guys -- even against bad odds -- we'll win. It comes from CeCe Lyles, the flight attendant who had some police training early in life before she switched to being a flight attendant. She was on hijacked Flight 93, Newark to San Fran, the one that never made it to D.C. because dudes on board pulled a CC. They got a plan, and then they worked it. They sacrificed their lives. Knowing the sisters as I do, if something went down, figure CeCe Lyles was in on it to the hilt. They CC'd." the terrorists. Last year, the Ravens CC'd" the Super Bowl. This year, who'll CC the Bowl? Raiders? Dolphins? Broncos ... Titans? Jets? Ravens?"

SWEATING (pronounced SWEAT-IN')
"Dog, isn't that when you're really following something, really caring about something greatly?"

"Yeah. Caring too much. Damn near stalking. Like you be sweating Kobe Bryant alla time."

"Kobe's my boy. You be sweating the Knicks. But sweating can be negative, right?"

"Yeah. Don't be sweating me about how I'm looking in the face today, Dub."

"Gotcha. Hey, what about ..."

"What is that, Dog? Shampoo?"

Derek Jeter
No matter what criteria you use, Derek Jeter is "hella" shortstop.
"Naw. That's when something is double-dosed. Overloaded. Outstandingly. Like, Jeet is hella shortstop, the shortstop of life. Waves at Banzai pipeline in Hawaii? Hella big. And right now I'm hella mad.

"So, if a thing is ...

"Then what is that?"

No answer.


No answer.

"Dog. It's me. It's Dub ..."

"Yeah. I feel you. R-Dub. ... When you say blowing up, you mean a thing or person or place is becoming more famous and more popular. Like when Jordan comes back with the Wizards, the Wizards are gonna blow up. The Seattle Mariners blew up big-time this year. Means, get more noticed, get attention paid. Fame, basically. Sometimes it's more like it sounds. For instance, if you were more like me, honeys would be blowing up your cell phone. Ain't got nothing to do with no explosives ... (here Dog slips into thousand-yard stare) ... The word I got for that clown fake wack gay fraud bum bin Laden? The one whose family endowed chairs up at Harvard? Got all that cheese? The one with a personal problem? Osama bin Laden? Yeah. Him. Got me some Buzzwords for him. Like ..."

"Any more Latest Sports Buzzwords out there, Dog?"

"Plenty. But right now, I only see and hear two."

"Which two?"


Ralph Wiley spent nine years at Sports Illustrated and wrote 28 cover stories on celebrity athletes. He is the author of several books, including "Best Seat in the House," with Spike Lee, "Born to Play: The Eric Davis Story," and "Serenity, A Boxing Memoir."

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