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Friday, May 9, 2003
Heading for higher ground

By Tim Keown
Page 2 columnist

It's a funny time for us to be entering a new moral age in sports, but as long as it's here, we might as well play along. We'll let you know the dates of the retreat as soon as the church office makes them available.

Now that Boston Globe columnist Bob Ryan is out of work for a month because of his indefensible and regrettable words regarding Joumana Kidd, every sports-radio shock jock is going to have to watch what he says on the air.

Joumana Kidd
Joumana Kidd is one of many subjects that are now off limits.
No more harassment of visiting players, no more homophobic comments, no more pre-adolescent remarks about genitalia or strippers or any combination thereof. All that innuendo-banter with the female traffic reporter -- you know, the one called "Misty Stalls" -- is no longer acceptable. Many jobs will be lost, but that's the cost of the new Puritanism.

America simply won't stand for it anymore.

We're cleaning up sports, one step at a time.

College football coaches now will be required to attend church functions at least three times a week. We've always known the football/morality link was the foundation of our nation, but it took Mike Price to make us realize something needed to be done.

Football coach. Moral arbiter.

I get it.

And you, the fans. You can't be saying that stuff from the stands anymore. You can't drop F-bombs in front of kids -- probably a bigger transgression than Price's, to be honest -- and you can't take up that whole female anatomy thing with the opposing pitcher when he walks off the field.

Oh, and it would be nice if you stayed the hell off the field.

Sorry. Stay the heck off the field.

And the guys who actually play the games? Well, so far, they're exempt.

Just as long as they don't do something crazy, like get their hair cut in the clubhouse.

This Week's List
  • The Dallas Mavericks' near-collapse against the Blazers did one of two things: 1) pulverized their morale, leaving them ruined and lifeless, or; 2) reaffirmed their steely resolve for an epic surge to the title.

  • And after two games of the Mavs-Kings series, the answer is: A little bit of 1) and a little bit of 2).

  • Spell-check hell: Mehmet Okur.

  • The immediate word from the Kings' television announcer after the Mavs' resounding 132-110 win in Game 2: "There will be a Game 5 in this series."

  • Well, because, you know: It was close there for a while.

  • There's a spot waiting for him at that faddy new self-help course -- "It's OK to go away": Michael Jordan.

  • Just for the heck of it: Frankie Taveras.

  • Awakening, ever so slowly: Miguel Tejada.

  • Hey, wait a second: The Padres are worse than the Mets, and nobody's rending their garments over the Padres, are they?

  • He's reached the point where it's now the boss' call: Mike Piazza, first baseman.

  • A couple more steps and he could have just dunked the damned thing: Tayshaun Prince.

  • If a kid did that, you'd say, "Let's find a better way of dealing with your feelings": Robert Horry, getting felonious on David Robinson.

  • One guy whose commercials shouldn't infiltrate sports programming of any kind: Carrot Top.

  • Just a weird thought: Wouldn't you love to give Bobby Knight a week to prepare a defense for a seven-game series against Allen Iverson?

  • OK, that's probably true: Damon Bailey, straight up man-to-man.

  • Yeah, you wimp, sack up: "Guys have played with broken eye sockets before," Bill Walton said about Bobby Jackson's injury Thursday night.

  • You think Bear Bryant ever used that line & nah, probably not: Thanks to Mike Price, the whole "Roll Tide" thing will never be the same again.

  • As someone who spent about 14 years there over a two-year span of college, I can say with some certainty: Mike Price, no longer in Pullman.

  • You're looking live at the NBA Playoffs, which can mean only one thing: It's time for another exciting double technical!

  • There simply will not be a better-pitched game this season: Barry Zito's shutout of the Yankees last Sunday in New York.

  • And finally, when you get right down to defining the differences between a manager and his players, it falls to this: Art Howe can get a haircut between pitches.

    Tim Keown is a senior writer for ESPN The Magazine. E-mail him at tim.keown@espn3.com.