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THE INSIDE TRACK | MORNING BRIEFING

Enough Magic, Some Don't Care Anymore

July 29, 1996|HELENE ELLIOTT

Magic Johnson's latest declaration that he's not coming back, an abrupt reversal of what he had told NBC only days before, caused few waves from observers who have heard him change his mind several times before.

New York Daily News columnist Mark Kriegel plainly thinks Johnson has changed his mind a few times too many.

Kriegel last week compiled a chronological listing of Johnson's flip-flops, each time quoting Johnson's contradictory statements--some of them on the same day--about his intentions.

Kriegel concluded by saying, "And on July 26, 1996, no one cares anymore."

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Trivia time: What first baseman not in the Hall of Fame has the most runs batted in?

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Hitting the road: Ted Turner may own half of Atlanta and the Atlanta Braves, but he doesn't own the Olympics. Could that be why Turner and his wife, actress Jane Fonda, left town a day after the Games began? Turner's whereabouts weren't clear. But he does have places in Florida and Montana to escape the sweaty masses. Turner and Fonda were expected to return for the closing ceremonies, on Sunday.

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And the winner is: The Cold War is over, but the gold war isn't.

The Russian Sports Express newspaper claims the U.S. deliberately misstated the Olympic medal standings in order to slight its rivals. Through last Thursday, Russia had won 13 gold medals, one more than the U.S., which Russians say should put them at the top of the medals list. But the Olympic table put the U.S. ahead because it had won more medals overall, 32 to Russia's 25.

The American press "suddenly, as if scared by the superiority of the Russian Olympic team in the number of gold medals, decided to count medals in a way more advantageous to the hosts," Sports Express said. "The Americans never used to behave this way," the newspaper added. "Such odd arithmetic was a characteristic of sport statistics in our country, which had the task, no matter what the outcome, of confirming the advantage of the Soviet way of life."

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The eyes have it: After the Los Angeles Galaxy had lost, 4-3, to the Tampa Bay Mutiny on Saturday after giving up two penalty kicks in the last 15 minutes, Coach Lothar Osiander wasn't in a charitable mood. "The ref didn't see a thing, as usual," he said.

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Curtains for Kirby: Demand for tickets to the tribute for Kirby Puckett, scheduled for Sept. 7 at the Metrodome, is so hot that the Minnesota Twins will remove the outfield curtain in the upper deck to increase the stadium's capacity to about 55,000. The curtain covers about 10,000 seats.

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Trivia answer: Tony Perez, who drove in 1,562 runs during his 22-year career.

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And finally: Among the perks in Wayne Gretzky's new, two-year contract with the New York Rangers is a television show on the Madison Square Garden Network, probably as co-host with analyst John Davidson.

However, hockey observers who remember Gretzky's nervous, wooden performance as host of "Saturday Night Live" several years ago wonder how much of a perk that really is. Joked New York Islander General Manager Mike Milbury: "I'm not sure that's a good thing."

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