Frank Deford

Ladies and gentlemen, boys and girls, children of all ages!

I always wanted to use that in a commentary, that wonderful circus introduction ballyhooed by the splendid ringmaster, but I could just never find the ideal spot.

Of course, had I, there would've been some people who'd say that a circus doesn't belong in with sports. But, hey, just because there's clowns around doesn't disqualify certain daredevils from being certified athletes ­­-- equestrians, tightrope walkers and those who fly through the air with the greatest of ease.

In days of yore, Opening Day of the baseball season was special, signifying that spring had come at last.

Today, however, Opening Day sort of dribbles into existence, and the spiritual start of spring now belongs to the Masters golf tournament, where the azaleas and magnolias and dogwood bloom. And if they dare look like they're gonna bloom too soon, in March the groundskeepers are rumored to pack them with ice to make sure spring comes as God intended it, which this year is on Thursday.

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STEVE INSKEEP, HOST:

With a new baseball season just around the corner - new baseball season - there are some proposed new rules aimed at making America's national pastime less passive. But commentator Frank Deford says, foul ball.

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DAVID GREENE, HOST:

OK, let's stay in Texas now, where after two decades of futility, the Dallas Cowboys are back on top of the NFL. And commentator Frank Deford says, love them or hate them, this is a good thing.

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RENEE MONTAGNE, HOST:

TV ratings for the NFL are down - way down. Commentator Frank Deford has some thoughts on why, and none related to America's fascination with this election.

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Since too few Americans go to the polls, I say what this country needs is a bobblehead election, where voters will get free bobblehead dolls of their choice when they show up and vote for president.

Hey, it works in sports. And what sports needs is some kind of uniform, sensible policy relating to suspensions.

In the television era, the second week of the Olympics is reserved for what is considered the marquee event: track and field.

So, the shared premier showcases of the first week are swimming and women's gymnastics. While swimming was always a spotlight sport, I was, if you will, sort of present at the creation when gymnastics became the new star lead-off hitter.

Pete Rose may not make the Hall of Fame, but a statue of him is going to be erected outside the Cincinnati Reds' ballpark. Statues of sports stars are all the rage — especially in baseball. There are already seven other players frozen in statuary in Cincinnati, nine in St. Louis, six in both Baltimore and Detroit. It makes the legendary Monument Park in Yankee Stadium look like some drab wall in a hospital with the names of donors on plaques. Sports plaques seem so Rotary Club now.

A few years ago during an interview, Dave Pear, a former defensive lineman with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, suddenly, without warning, grabbed me — his huge thumb and forefinger pinching my poor neck. It was only for a few seconds, but my knees started to buckle and the pain shot through me. Calmly then, Dave said, "That's how I used to feel all day long."

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