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If you dislike Vitale, you are not alone

Published Oct. 1, 2005

Listening to Dick Vitale the other day _ can't help that since he's omnipresent this time of year _ I got the most atypical thought.

No, it wasn't to track him down and staple his mouth shout. That, of course, is my typical thought regarding Dick Vitale. Instead, I caught myself feeling just a touch of pity for the man.

I know, it is a little hard to cultivate empathy for a guy whose entire raison d'etre (oh, look it up) seems to be driving every halfway normal human being into a suicidal rage.

Sure, every time I hear that hardcourt Captain Stubing braying about college basketball and ending every increasingly shrill sentence with a bombastic "BAY-BEE," I want to take up residence in a sensory deprivation tank. And I am not alone in that position.

On the other hand, there must be someone out there who recognizes these traits but finds Vitale's egregious vocal stylings and wretched physical pantomime somewhat entertaining.

That person, however, is a fool.

I hate Vitale's routine utterly and irrevocably. The note of compassion I take here is not one of affection for that excrement.

What has occurred to me is Vitale is not completely at fault here. Sure, he did originate this asinine practice. But that does not make the offense entirely his.

Consider human behavior. The way we talk and act is not determined in a vacuum. Our personalities are developed over time, and they are based greatly on our environment.

If I were to decide to speak in a certain way _ say, like the idiot savant Charlie Babbitt in Rain Man, or the socially dysfunctional Karl Childers in the new film Sling Blade _ people probably would respond negatively toward me.

Particularly, I combined both to say such things as "I don't reckon it matter that I can't find my underwear, nn-HUNH. Judge Wapner, definitely Judge Wapner, nn-HUNH."

See, no one would like that. People would shy away from me, cross the street when they saw me heading their way. Even more than they do now, that is.

So in order to avoid becoming a social leper, I would modify my behavior to find something more attractive, more acceptable. Which is why, with much sadness and resignation, I recently retired my coolest pair of parachute pants. They had 32 zippers and shone brightly, but they just weren't "in" anymore, you know?

These little modifications happen to everyone through the years. Guys, remember when you were 16 and you tried to grow that peach-fuzz mustache? Ladies, remember that perm?

We all have our little experiments. Sometimes they go over big, so we keep that little fashion accessory, that particular patois, that nipple ring.

Sometimes they don't fly at all, like George Michael's new album.

So you can bet for his next album, Michael, or George, or The Artist Formally Known By Two First Names Instead Of His Actual Name Which Was Baklavapolous Or Something, quite probably will be growing his hair back out and dyeing it blond and showing us far more of his rear end than anyone, including his Creator, could possibly stand.

The point being: Clearly someone needed to tell Dick Vitale back from the first time not to do that damn BAY-BEE or ramble incessantly about treys and posting up while making like a cheerleader desperately in need of pom-poms.

Instead, someone must have thought it was cute. "That's great, Dick. Go with that BAY-BEE thing. That's a winner."

So it's not his fault, necessarily, that no one gave him this good advice early on. We, as a nation, share the blame for encouraging him, rewarding him with fame and money.

Thus ends my defense of Dick Vitale. But one last thing:

I still HATE HIM. Bay-bee.

Next week: Inexplicably, Rick takes on Dick Van Dyke.