Padecky: Sports figures still good for a few good laughs

Contrary to many who believe sports is sweating for no good reason unless you are getting paid a lot of money to do it, the people who play and those who coach can make us laugh, wince and, truth to tell, think.

Here are a few examples that go deeper than Willie Mays’ advice on how to hit a baseball: “See the ball. Hit the ball.”

“The only place success comes before work is in the dictionary” — Vince Lombardi, the Hall of Fame coach who in comparison makes today’s NFL coaches look like they work in a day-spa.

“Winning is a great deodorizer” — Coach John Madden who was more than happy to smell baby fresh on after a poorly played game the Raiders won.

“Baseball has to be a great game to survive the fools that run it” — Bill Terry, a baseball Hall of Famer whose perspective 70 years is as relevant today.

“I am an artist. The track is my canvas, and the car is my brush” -- Graham Hill, legendary Formula One driver who painted many a masterpiece.

“I am pleased God made my skin Black but I wish He had made it thicker” — Outfielder Curt Flood who felt the heat of challenging baseball’s reserve clause, a protest that was to change the game forever.

“Success isn’t owed. It’s leased. And rent is due. Every single day” — NFL’s J.J. Watt who will take a play off the same day he takes off the uniform for good.

“All hockey players are bilingual. They know English and profanity” — Gordie Howe, fluent in both tongues.

“Every strike gets me closer to the next home run” - Babe Ruth, who found a missed pitch just a temporary inconvenience.

“When I race my mind is full of doubts. Who will finish second? Who will finish third?” — Nouredinne Morceli, Algerian Olympic athlete who had the same attitude as Larry Bird before he participated in the three-point competition at the NBA’s All-Star Game.

“Baseball players are smarter than football players. How often do you see a baseball team penalized for too many on the field?” — Jim Bouton, baseball pitcher forgetting that some outfielders run off the field after only two outs.

“The great mystery of life is why Kamikaze pilots wore helmets” — Al McGuire, basketball coach failing to address another mystery, trying to explain the nickname of the Utah Jazz.

“He couldn’t a curve ball with an ironing board” — Bob Feller, the Hall of Fame pitcher showing no respect for Michael Jordan’s lame attempt to play baseball.

“Lions don’t compare themselves to humans” — Soccer player Zlatan Ibrahimovic on not wasting his time by comparing himself to those lower life forms, like everyone else who plays soccer in Europe.

“They should move first base back to eliminate all the close plays” — John Lowenstein, outfielder who also would like the pitchers to throw underhanded.

“I quit school in the sixth grade because of pneumonia, not because I had it but because I couldn’t spell it” — Rocky Graziano, World Middleweight champion boxer who was very good at spelling k-n-o-c-k-o-u-t.

“He’s just a glorified flag-football player” — Curt Schilling the curmudgeon pitcher on Deion Sanders, whose mouth ran as fast as his feet and didn’t give a hoot about Schilling.

“The triple is the most exciting play in baseball. Home runs win a lot of games but I never understand why fans are so obsessed by them” — Henry Aaron, who once held the all-time home run record and held in great reverence Sam Crawford and his 300 triples.

“New York loves it when you spill your guts (effort) out there. If you spill your guts at Wimbledon they make you stop and clean it up” — Jimmy Connors, the tennis player

who took a lot of paper towels with him wherever he traveled.

“I’m the most loyal player money can buy” — Don Sutton, the Hall of Fame pitcher who knows the truth about modern day athlete and was not afraid to express it.

“Baseball and football are very different. In a way they both are easy. Football is easy if you’re crazy as hell. Baseball is easy if you got patience.They’d both be easier for me if I were a little more crazy and a little more patient” — Bo Jackson, who was Hall of Fame crazy and patient in both.

“A champion is someone who gets up when he can’t” - Jack Dempsey, a heavyweight champion who always enjoyed looking down.

“Maybe, but I wouldn’t have if I had a bat” — Umpire Bill Klem to Hall of Famer Hack Wilson who just complained to Klem he had missed a pitch, a response that could be applied today

“Good players want to be coached. Great players want to be told the truth” — Doc Rivers, NBA player and coach, omitting that great players also want to play with LeBron James or Steph Curry

“He looks like a pair of pliers” — Johnny Bench, the Hall of Fame catcher who never said if the pliers were closed or open, when he saw outfielder Von Hayes.

“It is better to look ahead and prepare than to look back and regret” - Olympian Jackie-Joyner Kersee, who had the advantage of never had to worry who was catching her.

“Half the lies they tell about me aren’t true” — Yogi Berra, who was easier to understand after a few adult beverages.

“I fear not the man who has practiced 10,000 kicks. I fear the man who has practiced one kick 10,000 times” - Bruce Lee, martial artist who probably did 10,000 different kicks, each kick 10,000 times.

“These young guys are playing checkers. I’m out there playing chess.” — Kobe Bryant, basketball chess master.

“It’s not whether you win or lose that counts but whether I win or lose” — Sparky Lyle, a pitcher who is closer to the truth than many athletes and coaches would like to admit.

“They comes a time in every man’s life. I’ve had plenty of them” - Casey Stengel, baseball manager who could take the English language and implode it.

“A champion is afraid of losing. Everyone else is afraid of winning” - Billie Jean King, on winning doesn’t always solve a problem. It can create one.

“I spent a lot of money on booze, broads and fast cars. The rest, I squandered” — George Best, who played soccer in his spare time.

“The road to Easy Street goes through the sewer” — John Madden, one more time, on deciding not to waste his time and losing his players attention by saying “Hang in there” after losing a close game.

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