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THE INSIDE TRACK | MORNING BRIEFING

Will Translator Be Forced to Walk Straightu, Narrow?

June 02, 1997|STEVE SPRINGER

Kota Ishijima will serve as translator for the New York Yankees' new Japanese pitching sensation, Hideki Irabu.

But because Ishijima also serves as the Yankees' link to the Far East, he has a much more glamorous title than translator. He is instead the Pacific Rim Director of the New York Yankees.

Should this be considered an important new position in the team's hierarchy?

Not until owner George Steinbrenner starts firing the people who hold it.

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Add translator: They are not permitted in the dugout during games, but Ishijima told Steve Jacobson of Newsday that he doesn't envision a problem for Irabu.

"Baseball is baseball," Ishijima said.

For Irabu, a fastball will be a straightu, according to Ishijima, and a curveball will be curvu.

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Speaking of translators: When Yankee Manager Joe Torre was asked why he benched outfielder Bernie Williams for Saturday's game against the Boston Red Sox, Torre said that Williams had a "hitch in his giddy-up."

While Ishijima was not available for a translation, others indicated it meant that Williams had a slight tightness in his lower back.

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Speaking of Torre speaking: No one needed a translator to interpret the Yankee manager's expletive, which was inadvertently broadcast nationally across the Fox network Saturday.

Or to understand Torre's reaction to the broadcasting error.

The Yankee manager was so angry that he refused to see Mike Weisman, executive producer of the broadcast, who had tried to get into Torre's office after the game.

Wearing a Fox microphone during the game, Torre, ecstatic over a rally by the slumping Yankees, said, "The [expletive] worm has turned."

Torre had reluctantly agreed to be miked for the game because it was part of the Fox network deal with major league baseball, but only after he was assured that no off-color remarks would survive to reach the ears of viewers.

"It's embarrassing," Torre said after the game. "The worst part is that there were a bunch of kids watching a day game as opposed to a night game. . . . Basically, I was made to look like a fool."

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Trivia time: Michael Jordan got into the playoffs in his first year with the Chicago Bulls, but how long did it take him to get past the first round?

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Trivia answer: Four years. After being eliminated in the first round by the Milwaukee Bucks and twice by the Boston Celtics, Jordan and the Bulls made it to the second round in the 1987-88 season, losing there to the Detroit Pistons. Jordan didn't make it to the NBA finals until his seventh season, when Chicago beat the Lakers for the first of Jordan's four titles.

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And finally: It was the opening game of the U.S. Women's Cup 1997. It matched the U.S. and Canada in New Britain, Conn., on Saturday.

It featured Mia Hamm of the United States, considered by many to be the greatest female soccer player in the world.

And it drew only 6,562.

Does that say more about the appeal of soccer or women's sports?

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