Ink Soup: FONS ET CETERA
by Clarence Brown
American Reporter Correspondent
SEATTLE, Wash. -- [Brown is away on assignment. Today's column is by=
Dr. I. Soup.--Ed.] In a game at Safeco Field the other day the Mariner= s beat the Twins 5-1. According to the paper, the game was on radio only, = but this turned out to be a typical error of print journalism, for it was a= lso on the field, to the immense relief of those who had bought tickets.
At any rate, the usual radio announcers were all at a new point in the b= leachers, directly opposite their usual perch. They go there to broadcast = once a year -- no one knows why. I expect it gives the cleaning crew a cha= nce to sweep out of the regular broadcast booth a season's accumulation of = cheerful error.
Looking at the game, not from their command post above and behind home p= late, but from the far center field bleachers gives Dave Neuhaus and Co. su= ch a different perspective on the game that they have to ink large capital = letters "L" (on the right hand) and "R" (on the left hand) to deal with the= reversal of scenery.
Someone said that this new location is meant to remind the journalists, = if only once a year, of how the average fan sees the game. It is meant, in = other words, to instill a certain modesty into their normally exalted viewp= oint.
But does it? Not that I can see. What is the result of their looking ab= out them and observing that every other spectator of the game is listening = to the game on the radio? This merely inflates their sense of their own im= portance.
At one point Rick Rizzs, one of the announcers, asked the fans = listening to him on the radio to wave their arms. About half of the usual = 45,000 fans who come to every game began to wave maniacally.
The Twins pitcher was so startled by this sudden agitation from the thro= ng of ill-wishers all around him that he dropped the ball, thus allowing Ic= hiro to steal second.
Ichiro, as everyone knows, does not need the help of a radio announcer t= o steal second, but still... . This subtle cooperation between the team and= their broadcasters is a subject that I mean to take up with the Commish th= e very next time we have tea together.
Not that I am all that eager to see the Commish again. The last time we= met there was a bit of bother.
He likes to tell anecdotes that have nothing to do with the game which h= e oversees, though everyone always assumes, at the outset of the joke, that= it will end with some baseball point.
Too bad about what happened to Ted Turner, he began. What? everyone as= ked. Well, the Turners had two pets, a dog named Fons and a cat named Orig= o. But Origo is no more.
What happened?, asked George Steinbrenner.
Fons et Origo, said the Commissioner. He smiled enigmatically, until Jo= e Torre laughed, at which the Commish ceased smiling.
Steinbrenner, who never studied Latin, of course (or anything else, so f= ar as I can see), was so furious when this had to be explained to him by Jo= e Torre, who grew up speaking a sort of late Latin, that he stormed out of = the room, threatening to turn the New York Yankees into a soccer team.
The Commish, on his part, was furious that anyone at all had understood = his joke. He even threatened to make Joe Torre keep Chuck Knoblauch no mat= ter what.
Torre, conciliatory as always, said that he himself would not know that = fons et origo meant "source and origin" if he had not heard it at the last = meeting of Mensa, the organization for people of high IQ, which is in fact = where Joe and George Will and the Scooter and I often meet.
But that's another story... .
Clarence Brown is a cartoonist, writer, and Professor Emeritus ofCompara= tive Literature at Princeton University.