Does the nice guy ever win anything around here?

    I was sitting in class on May 13 minding my own business (watching the clock, really) when the professor began to say something that actually drew my attention from the clock on the wall to the front of the room.

    “”How many of you have heard of Leo Durocher?”” he asked us.

    The words woke me up from my typical in-lecture nap better than the sound of zipping backpacks and slamming desks, which usually signal the end of class.

    “”He was the second baseman for the …”” the professor clued. This class just got a whole lot more interesting, I thought to myself.

    Former baseball player, manager, and hall-of-famer Leo “”the Lip”” Durocher is the man responsible for the phrase, “”Nice guys finish last.”” What the smooth-fielding infielder actually said was, “”The nice guys are all over there — in seventh place.”” But what he said as the Brooklyn Dodgers manager before a game against the hated New York Giants in 1946 lacked spice; so sportswriters at the time decided that they would change it a little bit to give us the now-famous line.

    Now I can’t remember exactly why this came up in class, but I suppose that what Durocher meant when he was talking about the seventh-place “”Nice Guys”” can be applied to most things.

    In a poker game, you shouldn’t tell the guy sitting to your right that you can see his hand. Instead, you should use your new knowledge in your next betting move.

    In economics, you shouldn’t tell everyone about a free lunch. Instead, you should go take all the food for yourself.

    And in sports, it doesn’t help you if you go up and tell the referee that you were the last one to touch the ball before it went out of bounds with under a minute left in a one-possession basketball game. It doesn’t help if you go over to the ref and tell him that you put the puck into the cage with your skate and not your hockey stick. It doesn’t help to tell the ref that you crossed the line of scrimmage before you threw a touchdown.

    The nice guy would make these confessions … and the nice guy would then lose. Durocher knew what he was talking about. He wasn’t a nice guy, and he got himself two World Series rings as a player, one as a manager and a spot in the Hall of Fame.

    Although the shortstop/second baseman wasn’t known for his bat (he batted above .260 in just five of his 17 seasons) but more for his glovework, which made Durocher an MVP candidate, he would probably tell you to go into second with your spikes up.

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