Kicking the Wickets with Yogi

I miss the elocution of Yogi Berra. He once said, “The future ain’t what it used to be.” Last night as I watched Draymond Green’s leg fly north like a sledge hammer on wings directly into the fork of Steven Adam’s wickets, I couldn’t help but remember how much better it was in the old days when I played basketball and the physics of a 5’9” white kid who couldn’t jump nor discriminately kick past ankle height made the basketball court a safe haven for opponents body parts.  

Oklahoma City Thunder center Steven Adams reportedly said Draymond Green has reached “peak annoyingness,” to which Draymond replied with gleeful wit, “I just be me.”

Apparently the advanced physical gifts of today’s high-flying athletes has hamstrung their elocution. I miss the old days when athletes spoke meaningfully, without malice, and with full wisdom and transparency, like Yogi Berra.

If only Draymond could tell us what happened in the language of Yogi.

Maybe he would have said, “When you come to a fork in the road, kick it.”

I miss the old days of plain simple to understand language from sports heroes. It’s accessible. I can understand it. And it points out the absurdity of trying to figure out everything on my own. In that spirit of human understanding, I’ve listed some of my favorites bits of wisdom from one of the greatest catchers and philosophers in baseball history, Yogi Berra.

Yogi knew how to rate a 5 star hotel.

“The towels were so thick there I could hardly close my suitcase.”

And he gave much thought to legacy.

  • Yogi was asked in an interview to play a game of word association and the interviewer said, “Mickey Mantle”, Yogi answered “What about him?”
  • On death and memory: “You should always go to other people’s funerals, otherwise, they won’t come to yours.”
  • And my favorite quote about death when his wife Carmen Berra said, “Yogi, you are from St. Louis, we live in New Jersey, and you played ball in New York. If you go before I do, where would you like me to have you buried?” Yogi replied, “Surprise me.”

Yogi was so wise, he could subdue Mother Nature. “It ain’t the heat, it’s the humility.”

And yes, Yogi summarized the basis of all scientific methodology in seven words. “You can observe a lot by watching.”

Yogi also knew the value of goal-setting when he reminded us, “You’ve got to be very careful if you don’t know where you are going, because you might not get there.”

And he certainly gave me my finest tip on selecting a restaurant. “Nobody goes there anymore; it’s too crowded.”

There have been Nobel Prizes awarded for economic thought that were less nuanced than Yogi’s words, “A nickel ain’t worth a dime anymore.”

And as someone who has swung a golf club all my life, I relate to Mr. Berra’s advice on how to swing a bat. “How can you think and hit at the same time?”

Exactly.

And, some words from Yogi about what Draymond may have been thinking when he flailed his leg long after the basketball had left his hand and his foot had found a home, “You don’t have to swing hard to hit a homerun. If you got the timing, it’ll go.”

Finally, words from Yogi that express how I felt the first time I visited the New Jersey home of my wife to be,

“It was impossible to get a conversation going, everybody was talking too much.” Thanks for the memories Yogi, I remember that like it was yesterday, or was that tomorrow?

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