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THE INSIDE TRACK | MORNING BRIEFING

Nothing Wrong With Taking a Short Break

May 26, 1996|MAL FLORENCE

Michael Wilbon in the Washington Post on the controversy caused by Baltimore Oriole Manager Davey Johnson asking Cal Ripken Jr. to move from shortstop to third base:

"Can you imagine the nerve, asking someone universally agreed upon as being the consummate ballplayer to help his team by playing another position? I'm familiar with the phrase 'fixture at the position,' but this is ridiculous.

"All this hand-wringing is making me nauseous. From the reaction to Cal's Journey you'd think Johnson was asking him to switch sports--maybe to water polo--not change positions."

Note: The switch hasn't happened yet.

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Trivia time: Who were the first USC athletes to win gold medals in the Olympic Games?

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Busy day: Roy Jones Jr., the unbeaten fighter, has plans for an unusual doubleheader.

He will play for the Jacksonville Barracudas of the U.S. Basketball League on the afternoon of June 15 before defending his International Boxing Federation super-middleweight crown against Eric Lucas of Canada that night at the Jacksonville Coliseum.

"If there wasn't any risk, it wouldn't be any fun," Jones said. "I'm pretty sure I can do it."

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The nowhere place: The Edmonton Oilers are moving their American Hockey League affiliate from Cape Breton in Nova Scotia, to Hamilton in Ontario.

Former NHL player Greg Haywood once said: "Go to the end of the earth and then, about 20 miles past that, is Cape Breton."

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Protection: From Jay Leno: "I can't believe how physical the NBA is getting lately. Shaquille O'Neal--what is he, 320 pounds--comes down the court and crashes into Dennis Rodman. Luckily, Dennis was wearing a padded bra, so he's OK."

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Eye of the needle: Pitcher Roger Clemens of the Boston Red Sox insists this season's football-like scores aren't the result of juiced balls. It's the shrinking strike zone.

"It's a joke," Clemens told the Boston Globe. "It's about as big as a dinner plate. Don't even look at anybody's ERA anymore. You can throw all the ERAs out the window. Nothing is a a strike anymore."

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Only way to go: Catcher Paul Gillespie of the Chicago Cubs homered in his first at-bat on Sept. 11, 1942 and in his last regular-season trip to the plate on Sept. 29, 1945.

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Looking back: On this day in 1983, the Lakers made only three free throws in a game with the Philadelphia 76ers, tying a playoff record.

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Trivia answer: Fred Kelly, 110-meter high hurdles, and Alma Richards, high jump, in the 1912 Olympics in Stockholm.

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And finally: Jay Greenberg of the New York Post on Jeff Van Gundy signing a two-year coaching contract extension with the New York Knicks:

"This is a man so nondescript that he drives himself to the Garden in a Honda Civic and eats at a 10th Avenue McDonald's, where he uncomplainingly accepts food he has not ordered."

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