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Even rubber ducks have spokesman

Ian Cropp
Vail, CO Colorado

What I wouldn’t give for a fedora with a press pass attached, a typewriter and a pack of lucky strikes right now.

Well maybe I don’t need any of those things, but I long for the days when sports reporters could sit in the locker room and shoot the breeze with the players and managers.

OK, so maybe I’ve never even used a typewriter, but hear me out. Professional athletes have become harder and harder to truly access as they’ve picked up multiple personal spokesman, public relations managers and handlers. (By the way, what exactly is a handler, and why can’t I have one?). And if you are lucky enough to converse with these athletes after a loss, they make Attorney General Alberto Gonzales look like a Chatty Cathy doll with its string stuck.

It’s really gotten out of hand. Sunday, at the Vail Rubber Duck Race, thought I’d be able to chat with some of the racers and see how the event went. Well, only after submitting a list of questions hours in advance, agreeing to have the ducks’ “people” help with the interviews and proving I wasn’t a terrorist, I was giving a tentative ‘yes,’ contingent upon how the ducks felt.

Before the race started, I asked one competitor who was lacking a bit of air why he wasn’t in the water.

“It’s an internal team issue,” he said.

When asked to elaborate, he declined, saying it was against team policy.

My sources, who have asked to remain anonymous, tell me that the duck sustained an undisclosed injury during an altercation with a teammate.

Then, as expected, Duck No. 92 sat out yet another race over a contract dispute.

“You know, it’s not really about the money,” No. 92’s agent said through a statement faxed to No. 92’s spokesman. “Duck No. 92 really loves the team and the city, but we haven’t quite hammered out the details of the new contract yet. It’s quite unfortunate that the team hasn’t done much to remedy the situation. It’s the fans who are really hurting here, and we all know how much Duck No. 92 loves the fans.”

And the much-anticipated return of Ducky Duckman to his former home of Gore Creek after moving to the Roaring Fork river for more worms ” despite claims that he’d never nest there ” drew a lot of ire.

“You know, I love the water in Gore Creek, and I’m happy to be back,” a cleanly-shaven Duckman said moments before hopping in the water.

In what was supposed to be Duck No. 24’s record-breaking splash race, a few intentional quacks left the beefed-up duck high and dry once again. As expected, Duck No. 24 was unavailable to the general media after the race, but gave an interview to his team’s Web site.

“You know I don’t really care about the record, I’m more concerned with winning,” Duck No. 24 said then broke into laughter, adding, “Who am I kidding? I am the team. We could lose, but if I make a splash, the fans won’t even notice that there are eight other ducks in the water.”

Another disappointing performance came in the frozen leg of the duck race, where a team of ducks came up short of a postseason race yet again.

“You know, we just gotta go out there and keep working hard,” a veteran duck said. “Coach gave us a good gameplan and we’ve got a ton of talent on the bench there.”

I tried to ask the duck what he thought about his team’s abysmal performance on Sunday, but I couldn’t get a straight answer.

“You know, our ducks are all class acts and you can’t take nothing away from then,” the duck said. “We’re just gonna go out there and swim 110 percent like we did this year.”

Even with all the media helpers around, though, ducks will be ducks, and quack away during bad times.

“Playoffs?” screamed one duck. “Playoffs? Don’t talk about playoffs. Are you kidding me? Playoffs? I’m just hoping we can win another duck race.”

I guess the days of the typewriter are gone. But thank goodness we can watch reruns of the race on YouTube.

Sports Writer Ian Cropp can be reached at 748-2935 or icropp@vaildaily.com


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