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THE INSIDE TRACK | MORNING BRIEFING

Stanford Students Do the Deed but Tree Takes the Rap

June 04, 1996|EARL GUSTKEY

Stanford's mascot, that goofy-looking tree, has been put on probation.

According to the Chronicle of Higher Education, the Tree was disqualified from ESPN's SportsZone site on the World-Wide Web during the recent annual contest to determine the most popular of 16 university mascots.

The Tree was felled after Stanford students were caught red-handed designing a computer program that would have stuffed the ballot box on the Tree's behalf.

Later, appalled visitors to the site voted to ban the Tree from the contest until 2002.

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Trivia time: Among pitchers who began their careers after 1930, who has the lowest earned-run average?

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End of an era? Indications are that the tradition-bound Tournament of Roses Assn. might be caving in to pressure, that its Rose Bowl football game might become part of the Bowl Alliance.

Writes George Pasero in the Portland Oregonian:

"Is nothing sacred in sports these days? Not the Indy 500, for sure--and not for long, the Rose Bowl, as we've known it. Tradition be damned, apparently.

"It was written that Northwestern reaffirmed America's love for teams that can read something besides a playbook. . . .

"Let me add something here: The Pasadena Tournament of Roses Assn. is an all-volunteer group, which hasn't sold its name, or soul, to any porridge company.

"It might be unrealistic on my part, but I hope it never does."

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Splintered list: In Ted Williams' book, "Ted Williams' Hit List," he ranks baseball's 25 greatest hitters, making Babe Ruth No. 1, Lou Gehrig No. 2 and Jimmie Foxx No. 3.

Where does he rank himself? He doesn't.

Co-author Jim Prime explained that Williams insisted on not ranking himself.

Said Prime, "If this had been 'Jim Prime's Hit List,' Ted Williams would have been acknowledged as the greatest hitter who ever lived."

In a separate ranking, of the top 10 young hitters of today, Williams ranked Frank Thomas No. 1, Ken Griffey Jr., No. 2, Tony Gwynn No. 3 . . . and Mike Piazza No. 7.

Wrote Williams of Piazza, "As he matures and learns, he's becoming more patient at the plate and goes to the opposite field for a lot of his home runs. . . . If he remains healthy, he has a sure ticket to the Hall of Fame."

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For what it's worth: Both daily newspapers in Quebec conducted polls recently, trying to determine how many area hockey fans were happy about the Colorado Avalanche's march to the Stanley Cup finals.

A year ago, the Avalanche were the Quebec Nordiques.

Results: Both polls showed between 70% and 80% of those asked declared themselves supportive.

Said one, "The Avalanche will be my team until the very last of the old Nordiques leaves Denver."

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Trivia answer: Hoyt Wilhelm, 2.52.

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And finally: Former Met Mookie Wilson, 40, left college 19 years ago to play baseball, but returned in recent years and earned his degree.

Said Wilson, "To think of all the hours I wasted in hotel rooms, watching TV, when I could have been taking correspondence courses. . . . I might be a doctor by now."

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