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THE INSIDE TRACK | MORNING BRIEFING

Just When You Were Thinking of Him as a Star

September 26, 1997|EARL GUSTKEY

The Chicago Tribune's Phil Rogers says St. Louis slugger Mark McGwire is overrated and that his former team, the Oakland A's, are better off without him.

"While McGwire's exploits scream for a blue ox, the A's are much better off building around Ben Grieve than they would have been in ponying up $9 million to keep McGwire," Rogers wrote recently.

"Grieve, a 21-year-old right fielder promoted Sept. 1, is already the well rounded hitter the strikeout-prone McGwire never has been.

"When Oakland won the lone world championship [1989] of an era that easily could have produced three, McGwire provided 19.1% of the team's 712 regular-season runs. He hit 33 home runs, drove in 95 runs and scored 74. Dave Henderson, Dave Parker and Carney Lansford contributed about as much."

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Trivia time: Who holds the National League record for at-bats in a season without a stolen base?

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Ouch! From the Chicago Tribune's Hit & Run column:

"First, Fresno State recruited a convicted spouse abuser for its basketball team. Then came allegations that another player punched his ex-girlfriend and choked her.

"So now a Fresno State professor is demanding a code of conduct for athletes.

"What rotten timing. Just when Jerry Tarkanian redecorated the school holding tank."

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Sic him! Did Marge Schott really sic her Saint Bernard on Ray Knight when he was fired as manager of the Cincinnati Reds?

According to the Good Doctor in Inside Sports magazine, Schott denied that, saying, "I wouldn't send a dog out on a Knight like this."

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Confessional: Deion Sanders said his religious conversion and a low ebb in his life almost prompted him to quit football.

The Dallas Cowboy star recently talked about football, women and religion before more than 5,000 worshipers at a church in Irving, Texas.

Sanders said religion has turned his life around, but temptations still exist.

"The women: Ooh!" he told the congregation, which burst into laughter. "Ooh! Delilah and Jezebel, they are real!"

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Sudden thought: The Chicago Tribune's Steve Rosenbloom, referring to hard times for the Chicago Bears, offers this: "Can Phil Jackson coach football?"

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Cotton Dome? The stadium-building boom has invaded Dallas.

A $150-million project to put a dome on the Cotton Bowl is moving forward, after promoters signed former Alabama football coach Gene Stallings to help sell up to $120 million in personal seat licenses . . . and to persuade the likes of Texas Tech, Texas A&M, Arkansas, Oklahoma and Texas to play once a year in the Cotton Dome.

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Trivia answer: Pete Rose. He had 662 at-bats without a steal in 1975.

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And finally: Between careers? Try putting on a crazy costume and dancing around.

It could be lucrative, according to Dean Shoenewall, owner of Mascot Mania Inc. in Nashville.

"A mascot of a major pro team is a professional entertainer," he said. "It is not unusual for the best to make a six-figure salary."

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