Excuse me, I misspoke ...
By Patrick Hruby
Special to Page 2

Maim, maybe. Pummel, perhaps. But murder?

No way, Jose.

Sure, Philadelphia pitcher Jose Mesa recently told reporters that he would "kill" Cleveland's Omar Vizquel if his former teammate and one-time friend charged him on the mound. But it's not like Mesa was being literal -- at least, not any more than New York Yankees pitcher David Wells, who backtracked from a claim in his new book that he pitched a perfect game "half-drunk."

"I don't know if that's really what [Mesa] meant when he said that," Vizquel told ESPN.com. "Sometimes we would say in Spanish, 'I'm gonna kill you.' But in the translation, that's not really what we meant."

Added Mesa: "I would never injure anyone."

As it turns out, Mesa and Wells aren't the only fellows who don't always mean what they say. After an exhaustive, Pulitzer-worthy investigation -- five minutes of Google, followed by two days of Kournikova.com -- Page 2 is pleased to present the real meaning behind some other notable verbal gaffes:

John Rocker
We haven't heard -- or seen -- much from John Rocker lately.

John Rocker
What he said: "Imagine having to take the [Number] 7 train to the ballpark, looking like you're [riding through] Beirut next to some kid with purple hair next to some queer with AIDS right next to some dude who just got out of jail for the fourth time right next to some 20-year-old mom with four kids. It's depressing."

What he meant: "Where else can you enjoy world-class public transportation, delicious Middle Eastern cuisine and a kaleidoscope of different lifestyles and viewpoints? I love New York."

Marge Schott
What she said: "When [Hitler] came in [to power] he was good ... They built tremendous highways and got all the factories going ... Everybody knows he was good at the beginning but he just went too far."

What she meant: "I can't stand Nazis. Or their Autobahn. In fact, I won't even drive a German car. No matter how well-engineered they happen to be."

Jim Harrick
What he said: "I have nothing to hide ... the truth will come out ... [the NCAA will] find that there's absolutely nothing."

What he meant: "The truth will come out. A few years from now. Long after I've suckered another glory-hungry school into giving me a job. Hey, it worked for Tark."

Shaquille O'Neal
What he said: "Tell Yao Ming, 'Ching-chong-yang-wah-ah-soh.'"

What he meant: "Tell Yao Ming that 'Kazzam' has been dubbed into Mardarin."

Jimmy the Greek
What he said: "The black is the better athlete. And he practices to be the better athlete, and he's bred to be the better athlete because this goes way back to the slave period. The slave owner would breed this big black with this big black woman so he could have a big black kid. That's where it all started."

Mike Tyson
You may think Tyson misspeaks, but it's all part of plan to rule the reality TV airwaves.

What he meant: "The Greek is the better prognosticator. And he practices to be the better prognosticator, and he's bred to be the better prognosticator because this goes way back to classical antiquity. The ancient Greeks would breed some blind, Delphic oracle with a magical fortune-teller so they could have a kid who could pick winners. That's where it all started. Take the Giants and the over."

Mike Tyson
What he said: "I wish that you guys had children so I could kick them in the (expletive) head or stomp on their testicles so you could feel my pain because that's the pain I have waking up every day."

What he meant: "I wish my reality show was already on the air, so I could make even more money from saying patently absurd stuff like this. Did everyone get that down, or do you want me to repeat it?"

Greg Rusedski
What he said: "[Pete Sampras] is not playing that great. I'd be surprised if he wins his next match ... to be honest with you, I'd be very surprised."

What he meant: "I'd be even more surprised if Sampras doesn't win the entire tournament, since he's the greatest player of his era, and I'm, well, Greg Rusedski."

Nolan Richardson
What he said: "If they go ahead and pay me my money, they can take the job tomorrow."

What he meant: "I'll be a Razorback till the day I die. Whooo, Pig Sooey!"

O.J. Simpson
What he said: "Let's say I committed this crime ... Even if I did do this, it would have been because I loved her very much, right?"

What he meant: "The real killers loved Nicole. Very much."

Bill Clinton
What he said: "I never had sexual relations with that woman."

What he meant: "So we shared a cigar. What's the big deal?"

Michael Jackson
What he said: "I'm not like other guys." ("Thriller" video)

What he meant: "Except for the faux-military wardrobe, the baby-dangling, the sleepovers, the Peter Pan complex, the nose jobs, the chimp and the opinion that disc two of "HIStory" is actually worth listening to, I'm just like other guys."

Patrick Hruby is a sportswriter for the Washington Times. You can reach him at phrub@yahoo.com.





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