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THE INSIDE TRACK | Morning Briefing

Blackhawks Black and Blue All Over

April 22, 1998|MAL FLORENCE

Bob Verdi of the Chicago Tribune writing on the Blackhawks' failure to make the NHL playoffs for the first time since 1969:

"In recent seasons, the Hawks have tried to sell the notion that they're rough and tough. False. They get pushed around from coast to coast and particularly in between. Visiting teams used to fear coming to Chicago. No more.

"The Hawks also have operated on this myth that they're smart and disciplined. Wrong. They are as soft in the head as they are in the spine. Teams don't yield so many goals in the last minute and lose so many games on the last shot by coincidence or because of bad officiating."

OK, Bob, now tell us what you really think of the team.

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More Blackhawks: Of Chicago's 38 losses, 21 were by one goal, tying an NHL record.

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Trivia time: Who are the only two athletes who have played quarterback in the Super Bowl and been taken in the top 10 rounds of the baseball draft?

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Slowpoke: Marcus Allen, who retired recently to become an analyst with CBS, was with the Raiders in 1990 when teammate Bo Jackson pulled off a spectacular reverse-field run for 88 yards, only to be stopped just short of the goal line.

Allen told Jackson: "Pick up your feet next time."

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Gamesmanship: Before the NFL draft, Washington State quarterback Ryan Leaf did a selling job--not on himself--but Tennessee quarterback Payton Manning.

"I wouldn't choose me first," Leaf told the Indianapolis Star. "I would choose him. He's the smart thing to do. I still have a lot of things to prove to people."

So, Indianapolis, with the first pick, chose Manning. The San Diego Chargers got Leaf with the second pick in the first round--and Leaf is in San Diego, where he wanted to be all along.

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Fair enough: New York Met General Manager Steve Phillips explaining the signing of Dutch-born infielder Robert Eenhoorn: "We needed to buy a vowel."

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Nervous time: Jim Armstrong in the Denver Post: "Who's going to spend more time this season looking over their shoulders, the Rockies' pitchers or fans with seats under the upper deck at Yankee Stadium?"

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No brainer: New York Knick radio play-by-play man Gus Johnson said doctors had to drill a hole in the side of Miami Heat center Alonzo Mourning's head to reset his broken cheekbone.

"Yeah," replied analyst Walt Frazier, "with 'Zo they didn't have to worry they were going to find anything back there."

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Time marches on: Tom Watson, who turns 50 in September 1999, intends to play on the senior tour. As for competing now against younger golfers, the five-time British Open champion said:

"I see the handwriting on the wall. I see these young kids hit past me. I see it with my son Michael, who hits it 15 to 20 yards past me. And he's 15.

"He's gone from hitting 180-yard drives to 300-yard drives in two years."

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Succinct: Mike Milbury, New York Islander coach, after losing, 2-0, to the Washington Capitals recently: "This will be the shortest press conference in history. You saw it. Write it. Thank you."

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Praise indeed: Dan Duquette, Boston Red Sox general manager, after watching Pedro Martinez turn in another strong pitching performance last Friday against Cleveland: "Watching Pedro is like watching Michael Flatley dance or Pavarotti sing."

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Trivia answer: John Elway, second round, New York Yankees, 1981, and Dan Marino, fourth round, Kansas City Royals, 1979.

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And finally: San Diego Padre pitcher Kevin Brown on why he didn't wear a jacket on the basepaths on a chilly night in San Francisco: "I'm trying to run the bases and score runs and don't want to feel like I've got parachute on. I'm slow enough as it is."

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