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Rushin Alphabet Soup

Just as a slightrearrangement of furniture can improve a room immeasurably, the shuffling ofletters within a word can make a world of difference. Typographically, a sportsbra is scarcely distinguishable from a sports bar. But which would you ratherbe lounging around in when your wife walks in unexpectedly?

Rearrange theirnames, and some baseball players become baseball groupies: Bengie Molina is"Melanie Bingo" and Lance Niekro becomes "Annie Locker." All ofwhich is to say that anagrams make sports infinitely more interesting. Otherathletes turn into Negro Leagues legends--Kelvim Escobar is "LovesickBream," Austin Croshere is "Suitcase Horner," Alex Escobar is"Boxcar Seale"--and a current NBA player (Howard Eisley) morphs into anABA player of the 1970s (Wesley Hairdo).

Sure, on rareoccasions the exotic (Jalen Rose) becomes prosaic (Earl Jones). But more often,anagrams give an athlete a name more evocative than his own. Just as JimMorrison liked to called himself "Mr. Mojo Risin'," diminutive Hawksguard Tyronn Lue comes to life more vividly as "Leon Runty."

Ask Leon Runty:Anagrams are brutally honest, telling the truth as nothing else can. And sothat courtside seat really is for "catered-to suits," the kind ofindolent fans who never wore an athletic supporter--"the testicularprop" familiar to real athletes. They are wannabes like penurious Clippersowner Donald Sterling, "tending dollars" in the owner's box.

College basketballhas charm. I love the Florida Gators, those "'fro gladiators."

But the bulk ofNBA players lack charisma, and the games themselves are one-sided: Bo Outlaw in"a blowout."

And the tattoos!On every limb Kenyon Martin has an "inky ornament."

Baseball is worse.The Tribune Comp'ny continues to "print Cub money," yet Dusty Baker hasto manage "bad turkeys."

The A's are moresuccessful playing moneyball, the soulless invention of a "lonelyM.B.A."

See why we needanagrams? They are Sodium Pentothal. And so I say unto the Tampa Bay DevilRays: "Ye art abysmal, vapid." And your "designated hitter"gets paid for "sitting there dead."

And let's not getstarted on the operators of BALCO, those storied procurers of the "steroidprecursor." Because of them, a Giants leftfielder can now lament, "Ifelt a federal sting." Of course, that same leftfielder puts people in theseats, which is why beer vendors "revere Bonds."

(For a while, itlooked as if the career arc of Rafael Palmeiro would be summarized in threewords: "Fame, Liar, Parole.")

Sports fans put upwith all kinds of nonsense. We endure 'roid rages ("Go Raiders!") andYankee Stadium urinals (which "made us, like, unsanitary").

No one cares aboutour athletic achievements. There is finite glamour in "miniature golf,"and we'll never have "moola issues" like Moises Alou's.

It's enough tomake you want to "pummel a jerk" like ... Jake Plummer.

I could kick MarkO'Meara right in his "aroma-maker."

I don't want tohear about the problems of millionaire athletes. Spare me the "cornballtears" of a Carlos Beltran.

Just give me thatold-time hockey, a maskless goaltender and his "dental gore."

Anagrams are notentirely reliable, however. Matt Leinart denies that he has a "tartailment"--he and Paris Hilton are just friends. And is it true that BrownsPro Bowl center LeCharles Bentley "belches eternally"? Only opposingnoseguards know for sure.

It seems unlikelythat Mickey Mantle, no matter how many nights he spent in a bar, ever utteredthe equine pickup line, "Tickle my mane."

And it's moreunlikely still that Cavs forward Drew Gooden is a "Dodge owner."

But more oftenthan not, anagrams get it exactly right. Which would better serve NativeAmericans? Indian mascots? No: "Casinos, damn it."

Anagrams, whenused correctly, cut through all the b.s. in sports. The outgoing chairman ofAugusta National wouldn't admit women, but in the face of anagrams, he has toadmit this: Hootie Johnson, rearranged, spells "Those join? Oh,no!"

If you still don'tbelieve in the power of anagrams, you're clearly an "ingrate reader."Your loss, Edgar Renteria.

If you have acomment for Steve Rushin, send it to

Anagrams are not entirely reliable. Is it true thatBrowns Pro Bowl center LeCharles Bentley "belches eternally"? Onlyopposing noseguards know for sure.