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Play ball, bro

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A gifted rookie outfielder for the Washington Nationals is causing a stir both on the field and in the press conferences. A reporter asked a question about drinking beer after the game, and Bryce Harper replied, "That's a clown question, bro." Soon the quote was everywhere. Within a day or two, U.S. Sen. Harry Reid of Nevada, the majority leader of the Senate, answered a reporter with the same words that Harper had used. (For whatever it's worth, Harper is from Nevada too, and is a Mormon like Reid.)

Clown in this sense means "dumb," I think, and "bro" is short for "brother." We heard a similar comment during a ballgame last year. When a fan who'd run onto the field was pursued by a security guard, he pleaded, "Don't tase me, bro." That also was widely circulated.

I've just discovered that the St. Louis Cardinals have a pitcher with two z's in his name — Mark Rzepczynski. Quite a number of players have spelled their names with one z, like Al Zarilla and Gus Zernial, and, these days, a couple of dozen Rodriguezes, but a double-dipper is unusual if not unprecedented. (We're talking about surnames, understand. Dizzy Dean and Dazzy Vance don't count.) A famous home run hitter of the 1930s, Jimmy Foxx, was given the nickname "Double X." I hope the Cardinals will start calling their pitcher "Double Z," now that I've got the ball rolling. I'll be available to accept the first bobblehead doll on Double Z night.

"We acknowledge that this left Little in an unfortunate catch-22 — if he stayed, the officers would ultimately discover the car; if he attempted to leave in the car, he would lead the officers to it ... " A reader asks, "Should 'Catch-22' be capitalized, or has it gone into the language as a descriptive concept?" Capitalize, by all means. We don't want anyone to forget that it's the title of a great novel by Joseph Heller, published in 1961. It means "a problematic situation for which the only solution is denied by a circumstance inherent in the problem or by a rule." I read someplace that the title was going to be "Catch 18" until another novel, called "Mila 18," was published first.

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