Mr. Manners dispenses civility to sports

Originally Published: November 9, 2011
By DJ Gallo | Page 2

Albert HaynesworthAP Photo/Stephan Savoia

The weather is getting colder. The leaves are falling off the trees. Birds are flying south for the winter. But our manners must spring eternal. It's time for another edition of Mr. Manners.

Dear Mr. Manners,

Mr. Manners

I am a professional football player who just got a new job. I have a reputation for being surly, out of shape, prone to injury and unproductive. How can I change my reputation and be welcomed by my new team?

-- Albert H. (Tampa)

Dear Fresh Start in Florida,

A man's reputation is something that is forged over years and decades. It can't be quickly changed. You'll have to work hard to change people's perception of you. I hope I answered your question sufficiently. Much of the text of your letter was covered in ketchup and cheese stains and it was hard for me to make all of it out. There also appears to be some drool on the bottom portion of the paper, where it looks like you may have fallen asleep while writing me. Congratulations on your new job!

-- Mr. Manners

Dear Mr. Manners,

[+] EnlargeStephen Tulloch
Justin Edmonds/Getty ImagesDid Lions linebacker Stephen Tulloch disrespect Tim Tebow? Mr. Manners has thoughts on the matter.

I sacked Tim Tebow in a football game. After sacking him, I knelt beside him and prayed, which he so often does on the field. It's called "Tebowing." Some people found this disrespectful. What do you think?

-- Stephen T. (Detroit)

Dear Disrespectful in Detroit,

There are certain rules for acceptable topics of conversation at a dinner party. You try not to talk about religion, politics or sex because those things can make people uncomfortable.

I look at football like a dinner party. A very violent dinner party. Did this Tebow fellow bring up religion first? Sure. But just because some guy talks about religion at a party doesn't mean you should fake pray behind him, even if you're just joking around. God can joke around, too. He even has his own meme. It's called "Lightning."

-- Mr. Manners

Dear Mr. Manners,

I am a former baseball manager. During my career, I made many calls to the bullpen. In one of my last games, a miscommunication over the phone resulted in the wrong pitcher getting warmed up. Whose fault is this?

-- Tony L. (St. Louis)

Dear Slip Up in St. Louis,

This is a problem with an easy solution. Too many people today -- both in an out of baseball -- have stopped sending formal invitations.

Here's what you need to do. First, you want to pick out a stationery that fits the occasion -- maybe something fun and flashy for a closer, for example, and flowery and wordy for a long reliever. Then have the invitation printed. It might look like this:

You, [pitcher's name] are invited to pitch in relief!

Where: The mound

When: Sixth inning

Please RSVP immediately

Sending out an invitation does two things. First, it lets the recipient know your request is important and not just some pitching appearance thrown together over the phone. Second, a hard copy RSVP will allow you to see easily who is, and who isn't, available to pitch, eliminating over-the-phone miscommunication errors once and for all.

Next, you will have to decide the dress code and menu for the pitching change, but I can address those issues at another time.

-- Mr. Manners

Dear Mr. Manners,

A bunch of my teammates drank beer and ate fried chicken during our baseball games this year. We are not a slow-pitch softball team. In fact, we are professional players and make millions of dollars. This is OK to do, right? Sports are supposed to be fun.

-- Too wasted right now to even remember my name (Boston)

Dear Beer Me In Boston,

There is a fine line in sports between having fun and disrespecting the game and your fans. You can actually try to walk this fine line. If you are unable to walk the line and fall over because you are too drunk, you've gone over to the side of disrespect. Hope this helps.

-- Mr. Manners

Dear Mr. Manners,

Sometimes, I think that my friends don't like me. They'll leave early. Or I'll invite some new acquaintance to get together and they'll turn me down. No matter how hard I try, I feel like an outcast. Am I doing something wrong? What if I smell or have halitosis or something? How would I know?

-- Big East C. (New York)

Dear East Feeling Least,

You say that you are trying hard, which is great in most circumstances in life, but that can actually be counterproductive when it comes to friendship. Desperation is a natural turn-off. Whereas being a winner naturally attracts people to you. I'd focus on being a winner and then everything will work out. Also, just to be safe, keep some breath mints handy.

-- Mr. Manners

Dear Mr. Manners,

I am NFL head coach. I am a fairly big guy -- I used to play quarterback in the league -- and I tend to get pretty excited. Sometimes, I worry that when I shake hands with another coach, my grip is too firm. Is this something to be concerned about?

-- Jim H. (San Francisco)

Dear San Francisco Strong Man,

Not at all. Shaking hands is one of the best ways to show respect. While there are different grip pressures -- ranging from limp to firm -- there's really no way to do it that would upset the recipient of your shake. Sure, if someone would attempt to fight you right after you shake his or her hand, then that might be a sign there is some greater problem with your handshake technique, but that hypothetical scenario is too absurd to even consider. It would never happen.

-- Mr. Manners

DJ Gallo is the founder of His first book, "The View from the Upper Deck," is available from only the finest bargain-book retailers. His next book project will be released soon. You can follow him on Twitter at @DJGalloESPN.

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