Wyatt Earp? Frank and/or Jesse James? Is that how Bill Hickok became Wild Bill Hickok? They started mass producing pistols in the 1850s and sometimes the gunslinger clumsily yanked the six-shooter out of its holster and wound up with a bullet in his metatarsal.
The phrase took an ominous turn in World War I with trench warfare. Soldiers were firing a round into a muddy combat boot to keep from going over the top and into the deadly path of enemy bullets.
Now it's back, closer to the original meaning, politicians and golfers and movie stars derailing careers and marriages with a metaphorical shot to the foot.
Likelihood of a lockout in 2011? The union's executive director, DeMaurice Smith, says it ranks 14 on a scale of 10. Evidence? A guaranteed $5 billion from television networks to the owners even if no games are played in 2011. At stake, the players' share of revenues, hovering near 58 percent now with the poor-mouthing owners aiming for a number closer to 41 percent.
Only in America. Only in a business where the charade of a Pro Bowl game drew huge television numbers. And the Super Bowl was watched by the biggest audience in the history of mankind. Americans want to love sports, but the decimal-point bayonets keep getting in the way. And then there's the clumsy foot-shooting in boxing, baseball and golf.
Pow. Boxing gets to the brink of a glorious match, Floyd Mayweather Jr. against Manny Pacquiao, a $40 million payday for each pugilist, at stake the coveted title of greatest fighter in the world, pound-for-pound.
So what happens? Mayweather, who has been known to pick his opponents as carefully as a guy who defuses bombs for a living, demands the kind of prefight drug testing normally reserved for a Bulgarian weightlifter in the Olympics. Pacquiao politely refuses. Mediation fails.
The fight goes up in gunpowder smoke. Justice may prevail because Mayweather has agreed to fight Shane Mosley instead and Mosley may have enough left to thrash Floyd when they meet on May 1.
How about Major League Baseball, holding out its arms to embrace Mark McGwire, just as soon as he confessed to using performance-enhancing drugs. Oops. McGwire admits he used the illicit chemicals, but only to speed up the healing process for various injuries.
Nope, he told Bob Costas on the MLB Network, he didn't think the juice helped him hit any of those 70 homers he hammered that '98 season. Commissioner Bud Selig grabs his Saturday Night Special, aims it at his phalanges and says, "The so-called steroid era is clearly a thing of the past . . . "
Sorry, Bud. Barry Bonds will tell you when the steroid era is over. Roger Clemens will tell you when the steroid era is over. The 103 guys on that list of positive tests will tell you when the steroid era is over.
The pro golf tour bangs one into its Foot-Joys and Phil Mickelson gets caught in the crossfire. Tiger Woods is working on his backswing in a sex-addiction center in Hattiesburg, Miss. That leaves golf's top spot open for the endearing lefthander.
Bang! Mickelson plays his first round of the year and before the ink is dry on his scorecard he's accused of cheating, using a square-grooved club that had been grandfathered by the stumbling, bumbling USGA.
Mickelson grumbled about being publicly slandered, which sounded like lawyer language. His accuser apologized profusely, Mickelson shoots himself out of contention on the final round, and the pro tour, aka life without Tiger, plods on.
Who's next? How about the NCAA and a television network conspiring to expand the college hoops tournament from 65 teams to 96? Dumb idea, but it won't kill the office pools, just delay them a week.
They're still wrestling with the off-track betting system in New York. What did they use, an Uzi for a pedicure? How else can a bookmaker go broke, paying less than track odds?
You will notice that the gunplay involving Gilbert Arenas and Javaris Crittenton has gone unmentioned. Those were real guns. Besides, the NBA has so many self-inflicted wounds, it's more to be pitied than scorned.
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