Sports Gossip Column

Aunt Slanders solves some of the big problems in sports as she fills in for Ron Maly. She discusses Iowa and Iowa State football, Iowa State basketball, athletes drinking in bars, Major League Baseball, bowling and The Answer!

Ann Landers is no longer with us, even though her advice columns for some reason keep showing up in print.

Actually, some of her stuff makes more sense now that she's dead than when she was alive.

But this column isn't about Ann Landers. It's about Aunt Slanders, her real name. And, no, she is not in any way related to Ann Landers.

I've known Aunt Slanders for many years. In an earlier writing life, I recall authoring a bowling column about her. She used to hang around some of the city's finer bowling establishments on weekends. She smoked Camels and wasn't particular about what kind of beer she drank as long as it was cold and somebody else bought it. She became an instant hit with everyone at some smoky place on the south side when she bowled a 300 game one night, then bought a round of Hamm's for everyone in the joint—including the guy who cleaned the toilets.

She later began thinking she knew more about bowling and most other things than everyone else. So she started giving bowling tips to people, but only when they included a self-addressed stamped envelope with their request. That was long before e-mail. One guy seeking help had this question for Aunt Slanders: "I use a three-hole ball and leave plenty of splits. What can I do?'' Aunt Slanders gave this prompt reponse: "Call your doctor. He's the only person who can solve those kinds of problems.''

Aunt Slanders eventually branched out into other popular sports, including muzzle-loading rifles, archery and horseshoes. I turned to Aunt Slanders when Iowa was in the middle of that 0-11 football season in 1973. Other than suggesting a change in coaches and players, I didn't have many answers for a horrible record like that. But it turned out Aunt Slanders did.

The advice she had for Coach Frank Lauterbur was this: "Get out of town before they offer to give you a contract extension.''

Then there was Ken Trickey, who coached Iowa State's basketball team for a short time. It didn't take some of us long to figure that ol' Ken was in over his head when his 1975-76 team had a 3-24 record.

Trickey was a fun guy to be around, but the fun was usually before and after the games. I asked Aunt Slanders what could be done to get things turned around on the court, and she snapped, "John Wooden couldn't win with the players Trickey recruited.''

Aunt Slanders has always seemed to be level-headed and have more common sense than Ann Landers. I've been busy getting a book started, so I'm turning to Aunt Slanders to write a guest column for me today.

Dear Aunt Slanders:
I hear that the major league baseball players are going on strike in mid-September. That makes me mad. Those guys make too much money already. These are tough times for all of us, and I think the baseball players owe it to everyone to keep working. Besides, I've got four tickets to the Cubs' home game Sept. 25 against Cincinnati, and I don't want to miss it. The Cubs' Delino DeShields is my favorite player.

Hacked Off in Humboldt

Dear Hacked Off:
I'm with you on this one. Those big leaguers are the worst bunch of spoiled brats in professional sports. Those stupid millionaires should be thankful they have a job. If they didn't know how to hit, throw and catch, they'd be working in a welding shop somewhere. By the way, are you serious about Delino DeShields being your favorite player? If so, I think it's time for you to check back into the hospital.

Dear Aunt Slanders:
What's going on with these college athletes? Every time you look up, someone is being charged with drinking and smoking the wrong kind of stuff in the wrong place at the wrong time. Can't the coaches control these guys?

Curious in Creston

Dear Curious:
Too many of the boys are spending the summer in these college towns. Back in the old days, the boys would get jobs in the steel mill or on the farm back home and do their drinking and smoking in their basements after work. That made more sense. In fact, I've cut back to having only a couple of beers at the bowling alley after my league. I know my limit. So do the local cops. But I'll admit I take a six-pack home with me a couple of nights a week. That helps me get through SportsCenter.

Dear Aunt Slanders:
I read in the paper that big things might happen in downtown Des Moines. I've lived here for 78 years and I'm still waiting for something big to happen downtown. I feel like I'm running out of time. What are your thoughts?

Buster in Beaverdalee

P.S. — Don't get the idea I'm being completely negative about downtown. You can't beat the Farmer's Market on Saturday. But that's about as exciting as it gets.

Dear Buster:
Downtown Des Moines is just like downtown Akron and downtown Topeka. Nights and weekends are big for cell phone customers, but nobody wants to spend them in downtown Des Moines. People who work downtown don't want to go back after dark. The only reason the paper keeps trying to bring downtown back from the dead is because the paper's editorial offices are there. If the paper (which seems to be dying itself) were in the suburbs, the editors wouldn't give a damn about downtown.

Dear Aunt Slanders:
I'm an NBA fan. What's the deal with Allen Iverson? Will he ever grow up or will he always act like a 13-year-old?

Baby-Sitter in Burdurant

Dear Baby-Sitter:
You're giving Iverson far too much credit. He doesn't act like a 16-year-old. He acts like a 6-year-old in an adult body. He has already taken 20 years off the life of Larry Brown, his coach. If I were Brown, I'd buy a home in Maui and never again look at the NBA standings. Or at Iverson.

Dear Aunt Slanders:
I used to average 190 in my bowling league. Now my average has gone to hell ever since my prostate surgery last September. Anything I can do about it?

Ailing in Ames

Dear Ailing:
Make an appointment with your urologist as soon as possible—especially if he is also is a bowler. When he says, "Drop your drawers and bend over,'' don't hesitate. Prostate surgery should not have an adverse influence on your game. For some guys, it actually improves their bowling average.

Dear Aunt Slanders:
What are your predictions for Iowa State and Iowa in football season? I'm about ready to make my bets.

Feeling Lucky in Festina

Dear Feeling Lucky:
Don't bet any money on what I say, but my guess is that Iowa State will have a 7-6 regular-season record and Iowa will go 7-5. Both will go to bowl games and win them. But we've got to start keeping the boys out of the bars so the coaches will have enough players to field a team. Don't forget, two-a-days are just around the corner.

Ron Maly

Vol. 2, No. 39

July 22, 2002

[Send e-mail to Ron Maly and Aunt Slanders to Aunt Slanders has recently entered the 21st century and now responds to e-mail, even though she doesn't yet have her own address]

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