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THE INSIDE TRACK | MORNING BRIEFING

Open Invitation Is One Of His Rare Errors

March 24, 1997|MAL FLORENCE

Alex Rodriguez, the Seattle Mariners' all-star shortstop, drew an admiring crowd of minor leaguers on Thursday while he was getting in some batting practice in Mesa, Ariz.

He drew an even bigger crowd with a dinner invitation.

He expected a few of them to accept, but about an hour later, 27 players were waiting for him. The minor leaguers were major leaguers at dinner. They consumed an estimated 600 buffalo wings and at least one full meal apiece.

Rodriguez picked up a tab of about $1,100. He'll probably be more selective with his dinner invitations in the future.

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Trivia time: Which school holds the record for scoring the fewest points in the NCAA men's Final Four?

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Ice scam: A Norwalk, Conn., charity will refund more than $9,000 to disappointed skating fans who felt they didn't get their money's worth during a recent appearance by Oksana Baiul.

Baiul skated once around the rink and then was ushered off to sign autographs. An official with the charity group said the situation was a problem of miscommunication.

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Cheat like Mike? After Michael Jordan's free throws, the result of a disputed call, were the difference in a victory over Seattle last week, the SuperSonics' Sam Perkins was clearly upset.

"You have to go out and go after them like they go after you," Perkins said. "You have to cheat like they cheat, do whatever is necessary to win."

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Perfect match: The baseball coach at the University of Illinois is Richard "Itchy" Jones. Has there ever been a more appropriate nickname for a baseball guy?

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Muzzle him: Portland's Isaiah Rider after the Trail Blazers defeated Seattle recently: "They're scared of us. Man for man, we're a better team than they are."

Said Portland Coach P.J. Carlesimo: "He said what?

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It lasts 24 seconds: Jerry West has agreed to play a role he probably knows pretty well in William Scherer's upcoming movie "Fore," a comedy about golf.

West, an accomplished golfer, will play himself.

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Reinvention: Peter Vecsey in the New York Post: "Given the amount of times Shawn Bradley has been involved in shoving incidents of late, you might say he's gone from being Missionary Impossible to the Stormin' Mormon."

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FYI: Arizona State is the only Pacific 10 Conference school that has not participated in the men's NCAA Final Four.

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Looking back: On this day in 1980, Louisville beat UCLA, 59-54, to win the men's NCAA basketball championship in Indianapolis.

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Trivia answer: Kentucky, with 28 in losing to Dartmouth (47) in 1942.

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And finally: Boston Celtic forward Rick Fox, after the Chicago Bulls were given a standing ovation--and treated like the home team--in a recent game in Boston:

"I'm sure a lot [of fans] drifted over to the Bulls. You've got a lot of kids with Jordan jerseys on, and criminals with Rodman jerseys on."

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