Sometimes it sounds as if sports figures are speaking a different, more carefully crafted language—as though a staff of flacks, spin doctors and lawyers had extracted every trace of candor from their comments. Wouldn't it be refreshing if every self-edited quote could be passed through a translator so we could hear what the speaker is really thinking? It might sound like this.
WHAT HE SAID: "While we don't endorse these guys who are taking PEDs, we also want to be known for being an organization that cares about the person as a whole, not just the player. He served his time. Now it's time for all of us to move on." —Giants manager Bruce Bochy on activating reliever Guillermo Mota after a 100-game suspension for a drug-policy violation Mota attributed to cough syrup
WHAT HE MEANT: "While we don't endorse guys taking PEDs, we do endorse winning the NL West. We also want to be known as an organization that cares not just about the person but also about pounding the freaking Dodgers every year. Now it's time for all of us to move on—to planning Melky Cabrera's welcome back party."
WHAT HE SAID: "We've got a lot of work to do.... We really didn't perform at the level we need to in any area." —Patriots coach Bill Belichick after a 30--28 preseason loss to the Buccaneers
WHAT HE MEANT: "We've got a lot of work to do—to avoid yawning our way through the 17-week regular season. Look at our division. Who's going to challenge us? Our quarterback's wife—what's-her-name, the supermodel—probably throws a tighter spiral than anyone on the Jets. Miami and Buffalo? The last time those two finished ahead of us, cellphones were the size of carry-on luggage."
WHAT HE SAID: "This is a joyous occasion as we enthusiastically welcome Secretary Condoleezza Rice and Darla Moore as members of Augusta National Golf Club.... This is a significant and positive time in our Club's history." —Masters chairman Billy Payne
WHAT HE MEANT: "This is a joyous occasion as we enthusiastically tell everyone who's been harassing us about being an all-male club that they can kiss our azaleas. Time to go find somebody else to annoy. It is a significant and positive time in our club's history because we have finally realized that even if we open our doors to selected female millionaires, the world will still be full of riffraff whom we can continue to exclude."
WHAT HE SAID: "" —Knicks owner James Dolan, who has not offered a word of public explanation for why he did not re-sign point guard Jeremy Lin
WHAT HE MEANT: "Not talking to the media is so cool, don't you think? It makes me seem really smart and mysterious, like I've got this top-secret master plan. I feel like that magician who never speaks while his partner does all the talking, that guy Teller. Or is it Penn? No, no, it's Teller. And what about animals? Animals don't give interviews, and they do O.K. for themselves. Like panthers. Panthers are really quiet and stealthy, and people think panthers are awesome and ... what was the question again? Why did I let our most popular player, the best thing to happen to the team in the last decade, walk away for nothing? Oh, shoot, I don't really have a good answer for that. Good thing I don't talk to the media."
WHAT HE SAID: "I don't think Bobby should be fired." —Red Sox second baseman Dustin Pedroia, on embattled manager Bobby Valentine
WHAT HE MEANT: "I don't think Bobby should be fired. I think he should stand in the middle of Harvard Square for 24 hours with a sign that says, I WILL NEVER AGAIN UTTER A CRITICAL WORD ABOUT KEVIN YOUKILIS. I think he should have to do wind sprints at a Celtics practice with Kevin Garnett ripping into him every step of the way. I think he should have to let the Bruins aim slap shots at his five hole. I think he should be stuck on an unventilated elevator with the Patriots' offensive line after two-a-days."
WHAT HE SAID: "Tim Tebow seems to be a wonderful young man, and he's got just a great winning attitude.... But there's going to be a lot of tension in that situation, so it'll be pretty interesting to see how it plays itself out." —President Obama, on Jets quarterbacks Tebow and Mark Sanchez
WHAT HE MEANT: "Tebow's a wonderful young man, but trust me, when two guys are competing for the same job, eventually it gets ugly. Fortunately, I find that awkwardness can be entertaining. For instance, I saw this older gentleman on TV the other night, standing in front of a big crowd while holding an imaginary conversation with—get this—an empty chair. I couldn't stop watching. Hilarious!"
WHAT HE SAID: "What I see is terrible. What I see is pathetic, including myself." —Marlins manager Ozzie Guillen, on the wretched play of his team, in last place in the NL East
WHAT HE MEANT: No translation necessary. Can't put it any more plainly than that.
WOULDN'T IT BE REFRESHING IF EVERY QUOTE BY A SPORTS FIGURE COULD BE PASSED THROUGH A TRANSLATOR?