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World Series 2001
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11/02/2001 11:59 AM ET
Why no trash-talking in baseball?
By Troy E. Renck
MLB.com
Left Field NEW YORK -- I was going to write about how Wonder Woman left me wondering Wednesday as I staggered into the ballpark. In case your hangover just wore off, Wednesday was like Halloween and stuff.

The costumes in the Bronx were rather standard fare -- ghouls, ghosts, silly monster masks. But there among the mediocrity was a celebrity -- Linda Carter.

Unfortunately, the lady wearing the red spandex with spiffy belt wasn't Linda Carter. Or even Jimmy Carter. A closer look revealed the impostor.

Getting away from her strange house-of-carnival-mirror appearance, there was a bigger issue. She opened her mouth -- and unleashed a voice that could scare the creators of "The Blair Witch Project."

Think Fran Drescher meets James Earl Jones and you are getting close. Needless to say, Wonder Woman was left to scream her lungs out at Derek Jeter, not into my recorder.

Still, she left me with an idea along with bleeding ears. Listening to a few fans make fun of her, the 10-watt light bulb went on: Baseball doesn't have enough trash talk.

Other sports have it. Football, basketball, hockey. The gridiron might be the most ripe. I covered an NFL player, in fact, who actually drove an opponent crazy by slowly revealing the digits of a phone number. Not just any number, mind you, but those of an opponent's girlfriend.

Mean? Clearly.

Funny? Unfortunately. Very unfortunately in a very good way.

Not that basketball shrinks by comparison. Gary Payton talks more trash than the Sierra Club. And hockey players aren't immune. Hello, does anybody remember Patrick Roy's comment to Jeremy Roenick about not hearing anything because of the Stanley Cup rings in his ears?

So where does that leave the National Pastime? Too often, verbal jousting is past their bedtime, a topic of little interest. These guys, thanks in large part to free agency, are way too friendly. Check out the batting cage before a game, there's more fraternizing than during rush week.

The best jabs are left to a clothing store owner in Manhattan who moons enemy teams (yes, that's a true story) and ticket-holding fans, a fact conceded by Arizona first baseman Mark Grace.

"The people here in Yankee Stadium will say everything about my mother, my father," Grace says, "and anyone else named Grace. They can be creative. But you know what -- that's how it should be."

But again, its isolation to the bleachers is disturbing. When the Yankees roll into the desert, they will hear it. But not from all the coiled up and hissin' Snakes.

"When we played that first game in Chicago (after the attacks), that was the first time since Little League I don't remember hearing the boos," Yankees shortstop Derek Jeter says. "But I really don't think much has changed. People either love us or hate us. We always get that."

It's just not on the bases or in the batter's box. And that's too bad. Tongue firmly planted in check, I yearn for the decline in character and family values to transfer to the diamond. There are so many healthy cutdowns capable of producing a WWF-inspired smack down.

And I know the players are capable. The Diamondbacks, for instance, made up shirts about Mike Morgan -- oops sorry, Mo Man -- that were worthy of the Improv. Aside from pennants from all the teams that he's played for, the garb included a line that read thusly:

"Good seeing you. Next time, I'll let you talk."

Nice stuff, particularly when you realize that Mo Man makes Dick Vitale's conversation look economical.

Anyway, with apologies to David Letterman, here's a list of the Top 10 cutdowns.

10. You call yourself a hitter? I have seen better swinging at a Brian Setzer concert.
9. Don't bother taking echinachea. You can't possibly catch anything, particularly a ball.
8. Didn't Bon Jovi do a song about your career? You Give Glove a Bad Name?
7. What's higher? Your average or Axl Rose's last breathalyzer?
6. Does your bullpen have call waiting? It should.
5. Do you find it unsettling that your fastball can't set off a radar detector?
4. I don't want to bring up your base running, but you've missed more signs than Clark Griswold in "Vacation."
3. When your manager fills out the lineup card does he just list AND OTHERS under starting pitcher's name?
2. How dumb are you? After executing a hit-and-run, you don't have to exchange insurance information with your teammate.
1. I lost count: Who has more hits, you or Billy Ray Cyrus?

Troy E. Renck is a reporter for MLB.com.