by | Nov 21, 2008 | Detroit Free Press | 0 comments

Every now and then, a terrible problem arises which I must help solve. Usually it involves my dog and the carpet. But today, I am called upon for an even nobler cause. I am here to prevent embarrassment. I am here to prevent grown men from walking into Joe Louis Arena carrying baseball gloves. I am here to prevent grown women from entering Tiger Stadium with octopus in their bags. The problem, of course, is baseball and hockey. Same day. Same town. How confusing! The Tigers open their home season this afternoon; the Red Wings continue their playoffs this evening. Everybody, it seems, will be watching one game or the other. But can you be sure you’re in the right building? I mean, how embarrassing. They set up a power play, you yell “SLIDE!”

We see the problem.

I have the solution.


1. Teeth

2. That is, hockey teeth come out. Baseball teeth stay in. Usually. Unless the guy’s been chewing a lot of tobacco.

3. Tobacco.

4. Baseball players wear skin-tight uniforms; A hockey uniform, on the other hand, should be loose enough to hide a Doberman pinscher inside.

5. Hat tricks. In hockey, they mean three goals. In baseball, they mean Vaseline under the brim.

6. Little Caesars at baseball, Domino’s at–

7. No. Wait.

8. The names Jean, Gilbert and Michel. You won’t find many baseball players answering to those.

9. Hockey players need help carrying their equipment. Baseball players need help carrying their wallets.

10. Domino’s at hockey, Little Caesars at–

11. No. Wait. Teeth spell the difference

12. A hockey goalie gets more saves in one night than a relief pitcher gets in a year. Unless the pitcher is Lee Smith. Or the goalie is Sonny Eliot.

13. When a baseball player says “knock one out” he is referring to his teammate hitting a home run.

14. When a hockey player says “knock one out” he is referring to an opponent’s teeth.

15. Resin bags. None in hockey.

16. Dirt. None in hockey. If a hockey player has a dirt stain, he’s been skating in the parking lot.

17. The names Pierre, Henri, and Ulf.

18. Not too many baseball players there, either.

19. Interviews. Hockey players like to do interviews, even in-between periods. Baseball players like to do interviews the first day they arrive from

the minors; after that, they think every reporter has worms.

20. Baseball umpires don’t skate.

21. Hockey referees don’t holler.

22. Hockey players come from cute little Canadian towns, such as Moose Jaw and Medicine Hat. Baseball players come from Steubenville, Ohio.

23. Even the Toronto Blue Jays.

24. After a big game, hockey players call their moms and dads. Baseball players call their agents.

25. Dominos at . . . hockey? No. Baseball?

26. Damn. Baseball is a spittin’ image

27. In baseball, the phrase “check swing” means the batter did not go all the way around on a pitch. In hockey, “check swing” means Petr Klima just took a shot.

28. No laces on a puck.

29. When you ask a hockey coach who will win tonight’s game, he says:
“Well, da Maple Leaf are a fine hockey club, and we’re gonna put da puck in da net and we tink we’re gonna win and den my boys are gonna pound a few back home tonight, for sure, eh?”

30. You ask a baseball manager who will win tonight’s game, he says:
“(spit) What do I look like? A bleeping genie? (spit)”

31. The names Willie, Pedro, Mookie.

32. No hockey players there.

33. Baseball players scratch themselves more.

34. Hockey has the penalty box, a place where the player must sit quietly and be huimiliated.

35. In baseball, that’s an arbitration hearing.


37. (Only in hockey).

38. In baseball, when one player tells another “nice hit” he is referring to a double down the right field line. In hockey, “nice hit” means somebody is lying on the ice with a busted face.

39. Hockey players don’t write expose books.

40. Did we mention teeth? We did?

41. OK. We’re done.

And there you have it. A pocket guide. You should be safe now. Go and enjoy your favorite sport, without embarrassment.

Just one more thing. Important safety tip. When a player hits one out at at a baseball game, you should stick your glove high in the air and try like mad to catch that magical souvenir.

And if a hockey player hits one out?



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Mitch Albom writes about running an orphanage in impoverished Port-au-Prince, Haiti, his kids, their hardships, laughs and challenges, and the life lessons he’s learned there every day.

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