Murray's impact still is plain to hear

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Finding the right word

Jim Murray contemplates a sentence from his home office. A national columnist once said of Murray: he "always got it right and got it funny." (John W. McDonough / Sports Illustrated)

TEN years ago, when an editor discovered me shivering underneath a pile of one-sentence paragraphs and inexplicably made me a Times sports columnist, I knew there would be changes.

I knew I would finally begin receiving e-mail from people other than exiled Nigerian businessmen.

I knew I would be asked to appear on television, my presence serving as indisputable evidence why this newspaper does not run columnist photos.

I knew the job would change my wardrobe (I started wearing socks) and change my hairstyle (I stopped needing a comb).

But I had no idea that the biggest change would be my actual name.

It went from two words to four words. It went from unpronounceable to unmistakable.

I was no longer "Bill Plaschke."

I became "You're No Jim Murray."

It was a name carefully scrawled at the bottom of scented letters from elderly women and drunkenly shouted into my voice mail from middle-aged men.

I have heard it shouted from the rafters at Staples Center and whispered in the back aisles of Staples stores. I have felt its accusatory wrath from Coliseum steps to mausoleum parking lots.

"You're No Jim Murray."

Ten years later, that's still me.

If my presence has truly caused Jim Murray to turn in his grave as much as readers claim, well, then, the poor soul has barely had a moment of eternal rest, and for that, I am truly sorry.

But, as for my new name, I am not.

It is, I believe, a distinct honor to be called "You're No Jim Murray."

Because, after all, it is the only time in my life that I will be mentioned in the same sentence with the greatest sportswriter in history.

Jim Murray was the most influential and important journalist in this newspaper's 125 years of existence. I am thrilled we are publishing this anniversary sports section, but I am flabbergasted that he is not on the cover.

Because that's where he existed, for 37 splendid years, on the front pages and front porches of a city that laughed and cried and argued over such gems as Murray's line about the Indianapolis 500.

"Gentlemen, start your coffins."

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