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Morning Briefing

There's Still a Spark After Near Burnout

March 18, 1985

When the Detroit Tigers started to come back to the pack after getting off to a 35-5 start last year, Sparky Anderson kept maintaining that the pressure was on everybody else, as long as Detroit held the lead.

Now, he confesses that the pressure was so intense he almost suffered from burnout.

He told Thomas Boswell of the Washington Post: "My wife and I would take walks in the morning and I'd tell her, 'We started off 35-5. I'll never have another chance like this. And if we blow it, I'll never live it down.' After the season, I was totally worn out."

He added: "Losing, or the thought of losing, will never affect me like that again. I'll be laid-back now forever. Just watch. I'll never burn out. I don't have to prove anything any more. They can say, 'He managed bad in '85.' But nobody can ever again say that I can't manage."

Add Sparky: He said he wants to break John McGraw's record of 2,840 managerial wins. Connie Mack actually holds the record at 3,776, but Anderson claims it doesn't count because Mack wasn't actually calling the shots when he was in his 80s.

"I've got 1,342 wins now," he said. "I'm 51. I have the lowest blood pressure on the team. The doctors say I have a perfect heart. I don't drink. I know how to get mad. My wife's a good listener. I'm about 70% deaf in my right ear, but otherwise they say I ought to last a while.

"If Pete Rose can catch Ty Cobb in hits, then I can pass John McGraw in wins. If my health holds up, I'll get him about the year 2000."

Add Rose: After a Cincinnati exhibition, he was asked during an interview what the difference is now that he's the manager as well as a player.

"If I wasn't a manager, I'd be taking a shower right now," Rose said. "That's the only difference."

If you're looking for a hunch in the NCAA basketball tournament, try Kentucky.

Two years ago, Nevada Las Vegas was eliminated by North Carolina State. Last year, it was eliminated by Georgetown. This year, it was Kentucky.

N.C. State and Georgetown went on to win it all.

Peter May of the Hartford Courant, on Larry Bird's 60-point night in New Orleans: "An auction of Bird's shirt and sneakers after the game wasn't totally above board. The sneakers had just been pulled from a box. And the shirt wasn't the one he wore, it was a cheap replica. As Celtics announcer Bob Cousy put it, 'I would have liked to see just a little sweat on it before I plunked down $2,000.' "

Whatever happened to the luck of the Irish? How could they lose to North Carolina on St. Patrick's Day weekend?

Turns out, it's happened before. The last time the schools met, on St. Patrick's Day in 1977, North Carolina won, 79-77, on two Phil Ford free throws in the final seconds.

Georgetown's Bill Martin tells the effect of the Hoya press on other teams: "You can see them wearing down. They start to loop passes, we touch some of them. You see them at the foul lane bent over, hanging onto their pants. You can see it in their eyes."

Quotebook

Olympic runner Ruth Wysocki, asked if she gets tired of being asked about Mary Decker Slaney: "It's better than no one wanting to talk to me at all."

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