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Grammar-Challenged Yankees

It's nearly the 4th of July, and the Yankees aren't in first place, so it's no wonder the most infamous owner in baseball is upset.

In an official statement allegedly issued while he was lifting the other day, George Steinbrenner said, "My patience is a little short by the fact that the team is not performing up to its great capabilities."

Yankees spokesman Howard Rubenstein, who delivered the statement to the world, did not reveal whether he had warned the Boss that "my patience is a little short by the fact that" might charitably be characterized as syntactically curious. He just delivered the message. This no doubt helps to explain why he is still employed.

It's no wonder Mr. Steinbrenner is frustrated. Over the first three months of the season, his team won 16 of 18 over one stretch, then lost eleven of fourteen during another. Recently the Yankees played six games against the Devil Rays and the Mets, losing five of them.

Yankee Manager Joe Torre, whom the owners of about 25 baseball teams would love to see fired because it would make him available, diplomatically responded to Mr. Steinbrenner's expression of dismay.

"As the Boss, he can certainly say whatever he wants," Torre remarked. And then, as if to acknowledge that the virus apparently infecting the Boss's grammar had jumped to his own, the manager added, "Everybody is taking the hit here as far as emotionally."

Having been told during his playing days that he was exceptionally ugly, Yogi Berra is said to have replied, "You don't hit with your face." George Steinbrenner and Joe Torre might similarly contend that you don't become a billionaire baseball team owner or a hall-of-fame manager based on your ability to speak in coherent sentences.

They'd be right, of course, and at the end of this month of graduations, the graduates moving directly into careers in baseball - whether as owners, managers, or players - need not worry at all about syntax or coherence. On the other hand, young, aspiring professionals probably shouldn't be so cavalier about their grammar if they're pursuing careers in, oh, say politics.

Ah, never mind.

This program aired on July 1, 2005. The audio for this program is not available.

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