About some things we don’t know spit

  Every once in a while, reporters have to ask the hard questions.
  Sure, it’d be nice if every story had a gift-wrapped ending and all queries were easily answered. But journalistic life doesn’t often play out quite so seamlessly.
  So we ask, hoping to get a reasonable response from a believable source. (Political reporters need not bother because no one should be forced to waste so much time waiting in vain.)
  Here are a few things that recently popped into my mind and had nowhere else to go except out of my ear and onto this page:
  • Why do we always have to look at loogies during baseball’s postseason?
  We’ve come to expect expectoration whenever we watch October baseball on TV. Thank God for the networks it’s not a sweeps month, but that doesn’t mean the rest of us wish to be treated to so many spittin’ images.

  I understand it’s a basic — no, make that base — function, much like relieving oneself of too much food and drink, something else I’d prefer not to see in Technicolor (yawn).
  But when was the last time you witnessed a loan officer, physician or lawyer rid himself of salivary buildup in so public a manner while on the job? Admittedly some members of the latter profession have occasionally been known to spit in the eye of common sense, but that’s only in a figurative sense, not one that’s nauseating to our own senses.
  You don’t even see other athletes spittle while they work.
  Football and hocker — excuse me, hockey — players would risk getting the goober caught inside their facemask and briefly blinding themselves, while basketball players prefer to limit their dribbling to the kind that advances the ball down the floor. They understand that oral secretions falling on the court would make for a slick surface, one that could easily cause an athlete to slip, slide and fall.
  The only thing worse than that would be reading the injury report addressing the incident: Sidelined on account of sputum.
  Jockeys don’t spit because the wads could very easily come flying back into their own faces, and golfers refrain from doing so because of the deafening sound it would make on the course. As for tennis players — well, if they did such a vulgar thing while competing at, say, Wimbledon, the oh-so-proper British would probably have them arrested for civil disobedience.
  But it’s all systems blow for baseball players. Frankly, it’s disgusting — why do you really think the spitball was outlawed?
  I can deal with no-shave October, though it would be nice if all the guys who attempt to grow a postseason beard actually possessed enough facial hair follicles to keep from looking like high school freshmen. But, fellas, can we get a moratorium on the constant spitting, at least until someone is able to tell me why it’s necessary?
  I’ll be waiting for an answer — with eyes tightly closed.
  • Why do some grown men insist on painting their upper bodies before going to a football game?
  Now, you’d expect college kids to engage in such silly behavior. There’s no better way, after all, for Junior to show his mom and dad what a shrewd financial investment they’ve made toward his education than by looking like a certifiable idiot while the television cameras focus on the student section at the stadium.
  Of course, the young man should be given some slack, seeing as how he’s recreating at that moment. It’s too bad his folks can’t see him while he’s hard at work studying such important scholastic subjects as coeds, beer brands and bank shots.
  Eventually, those college kids grow up to become responsible, mature, painted-torso adults. Yeah, they’re relatively harmless, at least to those individuals who are slightly sight-impaired. It’s the one time in life when not being able to see things too clearly truly is a blessing.
  Have you ever noticed how skinny guys rarely involve themselves in such activities? They’re not necessarily smarter, just more prone to frostbite when shirts choose to become skins in sub-zero temperatures. In their place stand men who are built like polar bears, only hairier and multicolored.
  And if you think I’m just being a stick-in-the-mud, let me ask one other question: How quickly would you admit that one of those dudes is your dad?
  • Speaking of dads, how come they never get an on-air mention?
  You’ve all seen the drill — a large, sweaty behemoth attracts the attention of a TV cameraman, the big guy notices it while stationed on the sidelines and proceeds to mouth the words, “Hi, Mom.” Sure, there’s a heartwarming quality to it, until you realize that dear old Dad continually gets left out in the cold greetings-wise.
  OK, given today’s divorce rate and the amount of single-family households found in every community, I’m sure there are a fair number of athletes who wouldn’t recognize their biological fathers even if the latter were carrying a photo ID.
  But what about those dads who didn’t bail out at the first sign of a dirty diaper? Shouldn’t they be acknowledged at least once in a great while?
  Remember, fathers are the people who, in most cases, give boys — and girls, too, nowadays — their earliest exposure to athletic events. Assuming they’re reasonably intelligent beings, those dads also teach their offspring each sport’s rules and fundamentals, and prepare them to deal with the ulcerated stomach that will result from witnessing extended periods of on-field underachievement by a favorite team.
  I’m not suggesting that dads replace moms in the hearts of children, but isn’t there room enough for both parents? It’s wrong for fathers to be ignored or flat-out forgotten.
  Unless, of course, they can’t hold their saliva or keep from holding a paintbrush.