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THE INSIDE TRACK | MORNING BRIEFING

What's Next? Portland Plague? Dallas Humidity?

May 08, 1997|STEVE SPRINGER

The NHL's Hartford Whalers will become the Carolina Hurricanes next season. Is it wise to use a nickname that has such a negative connotation for that part of the country?

"After last year, I didn't think I would ever want to see a hurricane come to this state again," North Carolina Gov. Jim Hunt said, referring to Hurricanes Bertha and Fran. "Today, I am delighted that the Carolina Hurricanes are coming."

At least until he sees how the former Whalers, a perennial NHL doormat, play.

Trivia time: Craig MacTavish has decided to retire from the NHL. Why does that mark the passing of an era?

And away they go: Michael Johnson was quick out of the blocks, but Donovan Bailey is gaining on him.

That's the opinion of bettors in Las Vegas.

Sports books there listed Johnson as the early favorite in their 150-meter dash at the Toronto SkyDome on June 1, but the early money is going on Bailey.

At the Stardust Hotel, Johnson is a $2 favorite, meaning bettors have to put up $2 to win $1 if the 200-meter world-record holder wins; Bailey backers need to put up $1 to get a $2 return if the Canadian 100-meter world-record holder wins.

"It was more of a novelty at first," said Bob Scucci, a manager in the Stardust's race and sports book. "We had a lot of lookers and not a lot of people wagering. Lately it's picked up and most of the money is going on Bailey."

Johnson also is the slight favorite at the Mirage. There, bettors put down $2.10 to win $1 on Johnson; $1.70 on Bailey to win $1.

Bad idea: A Washington attorney is starting a professional basketball league for players 24 years and younger as an alternative to college basketball. The National Rookie League plans to give players who have completed their high school eligibility a chance to turn professional rather than accept a college scholarship.

Said Bruce L. Stern, the league's president and founder: "We want to provide these kids with the option."

The option, it would seem, to pass up the chance to get a college education and a good-paying job when basketball is over.

Trivia answer: He was the last of the helmetless players. MacTavish took advantage of the exception made for those already on the ice when the NHL passed a rule requiring headgear for the 1979-80 season, when he was a rookie.

And finally: It was a tough act to follow, but Barry Dorr was up to the task.

After Jim Blakeman Sr., using an eight-iron, got a hole in one on the 140-yard 16th hole at the Bangor Municipal Course in Maine, Dorr, also using an eight-iron, responded with an ace of his own. It was the first for either golfer.

The odds on anyone getting a hole in one, according to Golf Digest statistics, are about 10,000 to 1.

The odds on two in a row? Get out your calculator.

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