Monday, July 06, 2020

THE CHEAP SEATS with STEVE CAMERON: These days, we need a good laugh — so here’s Bob Uecker

| June 29, 2020 1:10 AM

It’s been so grim.

Fun news has been hard to find these days, as the coronavirus seems to manage a new outbreak whenever we think life might be returning to normal.

That might be why a survey found that nearly a quarter (24 percent) of Idahoans admitted to drinking more alcohol since the pandemic roared across America.

That makes some sense, since beer is so much cheaper if you guzzle it at home, and we’ll be heading in that direction as sports returns.

But there’s even some bad news on that front…

ITEM: According to reports from CNN, the cost of European beer and chocolate — WHAAT? — will be going up as the U.S. imposes massive tariffs.

Here’s the gist of the network report …

“It’s part of a longstanding dispute over government subsidies to aircraft makers.

The U.S. already levied 15 percent to 25 percent tariffs on $7.5 billion worth of other European goods as part of this trade battle.

“The new items could be hit with tariffs of as much as 100 percent.

“The World Trade Organization has previously sided with the U.S. in the dispute, concluding in 2018 that the European Union helped Airbus with unfair subsidies that hurt sales of Seattle-based Boeing’s wide-body jets.”

Well, fine, I’m all for Boeing, but …

The price of an Airbus doesn’t help sports fans who need those cold brews while watching a ballgame — not to mention a bit of sumptuous chocolate to celebrate victories or sooth our minds in defeat.

ITEM: Yep, there has been quite a scrap over the importance of wearing masks in public as we try to slow down the spread of COVID-19.

Our national guru on all topics, the legendary Bob Uecker, has some thoughts on this critical issue.

With baseball now on the horizon, Uecker revealed what he’s been up to while waiting to resume play-by-play duties for the Brewers.

“I’m doing what everybody else is doing,” Uecker shared on Twitter. “That’s stay locked down, shut down, and wear a mask if I do need one.

“I went in the store a couple of weeks ago with a catcher’s mask, and they told me it was the wrong one.

“It helps if you get punched in the face, but that’s about it.”

Wait, does that happen fairly often?

“Yeah, a lot of people are still living who saw me play,” cracked Uecker.

By the way, Uecker is preparing to call his 50th season behind the mic in Milwaukee.

The proposed 60-game schedule isn’t ideal, but Uecker always has excelled in unusual situations.

The first time he was tossed into the deep end — doing play-by-play instead of just color commentary — the rest of the crew simply departed heading into the fifth inning at Yankee Stadium one night.

“I didn’t know what to do,” Uecker said, “but eventually the engineers told me: ‘You’d better start talking, Bob. There’s already one out.’

“It wasn’t the greatest debut — but after my playing career, I was used to embarrassment.”

ITEM: Bob Uecker is also a golfer, by the way.

He can laugh about that, too.

So …

I have very little pride on the links, either, so it’s time for a golf joke.

It amuses me every time I hear this story — even though I could be one (or both) of these chaps.

Enjoy …

Fred and Bill, both of whom are pretty far up there in years, meet on the first tee.

“I feel like I’m still capable of good swings,” Fred says. “The problem is my eyes. I just can’t see like I could in the old days. Can you watch my tee shot and see where it goes?”

“Sure,” says Bill. “My eyes are still terrific.”

“Great,” Fred says, teeing up his Titleist. He gives the thing a serious whack, and the shot sounds darn good.

“Did you see it?” Fred asks.

“I sure did,” Bill says.

“Where did it go?” Fred asks.

And Bill replies …

“I can’t remember.”

Whenever I hear that joke, I think of all the guys I know who can’t remember how many chips and putts they needed on No. 2 here at Twin Lakes Village.

I’ve probably forgotten a few myself, but not because of mental frailty. You don’t want the scorecard to look TOO ugly.

But I keep going out there to join the fun, because, yes …

Golfers are sports’ ultimate junkies.


Steve Cameron’s “Cheap Seats” columns appear in The Press on Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays. “Moments, Memories and Madness,” his reminiscences from several decades as a sports journalist, runs each Sunday.

Steve also writes Zags Tracker, a commentary on Gonzaga basketball, once per month during the offseason.