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TELANDER: Hey, Morrissey, I’ll leave pap to you; Pop is mine

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Updated: March 5, 2013 11:36PM

Time waits for no one.

What was once a rich, dark crewcut becomes a fragile nest of white and gray.

A vertical once measured in meters becomes a horizontal.

But the thing about sports is that the physical, arrogant, naive side always will lose to the cunning, intelligent, prepared side. And age — ah, age! — how it rises to the occasion.

I give you Team Telander, a Pop-A-Shot squad based on all the principles of athletic success: devotion, diligence, desire.

On the other side, you have Team Morrissey: disorganized, demanding, deluded.

I don’t mean to get personal about this, but the ‘‘leader’’ of that other team is looking more and more like Abraham Lincoln, after a night at the theater. Morrissey talks large, aims small and has the papers to prove it. OK, the column next to this.

Consider the differences.

While this reporter was working his way out of the tough cornfields of central Illinois, rising from the soil of Downstate Peoria (a k a: ‘‘Moscow of the Midwest’’), taking 500-600 shots a day on outdoor rims (not including a variety of vicious dunks), that reporter was strolling around on Chicago golf courses, counting gophers, handing rich men their clubs and repeating mindlessly, ‘‘Good layup, sir.’’

Sure, constant looping earned young Morrissey an Evans Scholar ride to Northwestern, where he gave up the stick game and did, indeed, play some intramural hoops. But this was long after his Fenwick High School days when he ‘‘starred’’ for the Friars under the guidance of Catholic League Hall of Fame coach Ed Galvin.

You know the Catholic League. Bunch of guys named O’Leary and Kowalski coming straight from Mass, dribbling straight at you like rigid soldiers with pokers up their arses. Layups? Oh, they were good at those. Charging calls, too. And lit candles.

Meanwhile, in Peoria, we were reinventing Dr. Naismith’s game. While Chicago experts were touting this or that high school team, basketball was being honed like a straight razor in the shadow of the mighty Caterpillar Tractor Co. Peoria Manual won the state title four times in a row. Remember? Peoria Central won it. When I was at Peoria Richwoods, our conference rival Pekin won the state title twice. And there was only one division back in the day, not 17 as there are now.

But I digress. Morrissey is actually a likable fellow. In his place. And that is not around a Pop-A-Shot machine.

You see, Pop-A-Shot was invented in 1986, and it has long been a part of this scribe’s maturing, sometimes tavern-laden life. How can I say this politely? Rick Morrissey is a wannabe Pop-A-Shot fraud.

You’ll find out. Proof’s in the pudding, my mom always said. Never get in a spraying match with a skunk, my daddy told me.

I’d like to take the high road here, but if you read the pap in the column next to this, you’ll see the low road already has been traveled.

So prepare to eat beans, Team Morrissey.

It’s too late for prayer.

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