I have a theory on the amazing overreaction to a dead lion in Zimbabwe. It is because the guy who fired the arrow is a dentist.

If he had sold used cars, the headline might have read, “Eden Prairie man saves many zebras,’’ rather than, “Dentist illegally kills beloved lion named Cecil.’’

As my friend Dave Hill, the comedian, asked a few days after the lion’s death became an international incident, “Are we still irritated with the dentist?’’

The answer was “Yes.’’

Because he’s a dentist. None of us like to go to the dentist. And now we know why they charge so much – in order to spend 50 grand to kill animals with names in Africa.

The importance of occupation reminded me of Billy Martin’s most-memorable drunken fight. And why are Billy’s fisticuffs on Oct. 23, 1979 at what was then called the Hotel de France in Bloomington unforgettable?

Because Billy’s opponent that night was a marshmallow salesman. Joseph Cooper of Lincolnshire, Ill. was in town on business. He and an associate happened to sit at the bar next to Martin and his friend Howard Wong.

A conversation started and Cooper mentioned that he thought voters (for Associated Press at the time) did well in selecting Montreal’s Dick Williams as overall Manager of the Year. Cooper also offered tribute to Baltimore’s Earl Weaver.

According to Cooper, Martin responded by saying both Williams and Weaver were rear ends, and that Cooper was a rear end for lauding them. Things deteriorated from there.

They decided to settle the issue in the hotel lobby, where Cooper claimed he was sucker-punched. The marshmallow salesman wound up with a number of stitches.

Martin was fired by Yankees owner George Steinbrenner a few days later. He was hired quickly by Oakland. The A’s played at Met Stadium on April 25, 1980, a Friday afternoon. The crowd was 2,664, including a gent behind the A’s dugout who casually flipped stale marshmallows at Martin as the manager returned from a trip to the mound.

The prank worked. Billy had to be restrained from going into the stands.

The Dentist. The Marshmallow Salesman. The occupation helps dictate the reaction.


2003 Twins’ stalwarts who are still delivering:

*Torii Hunter is having a solid 40-year-old season for Twins. In 12 years since ’03, he has played in 2,639 games with 253 home runs and 1,001 RBI.

*A.J. Pierzynski, traded after ’03, has played in 1,274 games and caught 12,100 innings since then. He’s 38 and Atlanta’s No. 1 catcher.

*LaTroy Hawkins left as a free agent after ’03. Now 42, he’s pitched in 663 games for 10 teams (now Toronto) since then.

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