Newspapers had the market cornered on sportswriters for decades. We also did a high percentage of the voting for national polls and honors. When making reference to these votes, headline writers required an abbreviated word, and sportswriters became ''scribes.''

In turn, it became more than a word to fit in a headline: A scribe was corny, with a penchant for applying an emotional state to a team or individual to explain a result.

You can still see that style in the hundreds of places where sports writing can be found today, but a high percentage of the newer folks are analysts.

They can use graphs to explain most any result. We didn't have the time (newspaper deadlines) or the inclination (bar closing times) to mess with graphs.

When puzzled by a result, we went with the get-it-over fastball: Team A was "fired up.'' And when fully baffled, we would break out the Blyleven, 3-2 hook: fate.

Yes. Fate, sent from mysterious ozone celebrated today (Easter Sunday) by Christians around the world, would intervene to carry a team or individual to victory for its own splendid reasons.

This week, for 36 holes on the greensward (a scribe's word, for sure) of Augusta National, the truest example of sporting fate that I've witnessed in person will be celebrated by the patrons of the Masters.

Ben Crenshaw, 63, will take his final bow as a contestant in the tournament, and will be doing so on the 20th anniversary of his second Masters victory.

He won the first time in 1984 as a 32-year-old who could roll a putt as well as any golfer in the world. He won the second time in 1995 as a 43-year-old and for no conceivable reason other than the fact his mentor, Harvey Penick, the man who gave Ben his first golf lesson as a 7-year-old, had died that week and Crenshaw was a pallbearer at the funeral.

Yes, ma'am. Playing mediocre before that, playing awful ever since, Crenshaw worked the handles at Harvey's funeral on Wednesday and won at Augusta on Sunday.

It was fate. This scribe has no doubt.


Other fateful interventions witnessed:

• Unbridled wins 1990 Kentucky Derby, as trainer Carl Nafzger effuses to 92-year-old owner Frances Genter, "He's gonna win! He's a winner, Mrs. Genter!''

• Villanova stuns Georgetown for 1985 NCAA title, with beloved, dying trainer Jake Nevin in a wheelchair next to the bench.

• St. Paul scribe writes in December 1980 that "Horseshoe Harry'' Grant actually coaches luck. Next game: Vikings win on Hail Mary deflection to Ahmad Rashad.