Home > Language > Sentence of the Week, 5

Sentence of the Week, 5

I haven’t run this feature for a while, but I knew the time had come for a return appearance when I couldn’t parse a sentence in the NYT this morning after several attempts. The sentence was from a short AP piece, with no author attribution, following up on an incident at the San Francisco Giants ballpark last Saturday involving a fan and the pitching coach of the Atlanta Braves, former pitcher Roger McDowell. The gist of the article was that McDowell apologized yesterday for his actions. Here is the one-sentence review of the incident:

A fan, Justin Quinn of Fresno, Calif, said McDowell made homophobic comments and crude sexual gestures and threatened to knock out his teeth with a bat when he complained about them during batting practice.

Quinn complained about his teeth, eliciting McDowell’s threat to knock them out? That doesn’t make sense. Or maybe the teeth are McDowell’s, not that that makes any more sense.

This was in this morning’s print edition. Looking online now, I see that the text has been revised:

A California man said Wednesday that Atlanta’s pitching coach, Roger McDowell, spewed homophobic comments, made crude sexual gestures and threatened to knock out his teeth with a bat before the Braves played the San Francisco Giants over the weekend.

McDowell apologized Wednesday in a statement released by the Braves: “I am deeply sorry that I responded to the heckling fans in San Francisco on Saturday. I apologize to everyone for my actions.”

Justin Quinn, 33, of Fresno said he was in the stands at AT&T Park during pregame batting practice with his wife and 9-year-old twin daughters when he noticed McDowell hectoring three men and making crude sexual gestures with his hips and a bat. Quinn shouted, “Hey there are kids out here,” he said at a news conference at the Los Angeles office of the lawyer Gloria Allred. Quinn said McDowell replied that children do not belong at a baseball park, picked up a bat, walked up to Quinn and asked him, “How much are your teeth worth?”

That makes sense, though it replaces one puzzle by another — what’s up with McDowell? Maybe he should find another line of work.

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