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THE INSIDE TRACK | Morning Briefing

It's a Deadline for Giving Up on the Season

July 24, 1998|MARK HEISLER

The All-Star game marks not only the halfway point of the baseball season, but the run for the July 31 trade deadline, when teams decide if they're contenders and, if not, shop their stars.

All eyes are on Rafael Palmeiro and Roberto Alomar, the Baltimore Orioles' upcoming free agents, after the lineup with a $60-million payroll reached the break 26 1/2 games out of first place.

The Orioles started the second half 12-1, but that still left them eight games behind Boston in the wild-card race, so for the moment, they're pursuing more realistic goals.

"The longer we play well, the longer we stay together," Palmeiro said. "We're just trying to keep hope alive."

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Big Unhappy Unit: Then there's the speculation swirling around Randy Johnson, straining relationships all around.

Seattle Mariner President Chuck Armstrong says he won't discuss Johnson any more. Johnson isn't talking to the media and recently had a fight with teammate David Segui.

Said Manager Lou Piniella, after Johnson strung together back-to-back shutouts, suggesting they've gotten along better too:

"Look, I understand the position he's in, but at the same time he's getting paid to do a job and you've got to get it done to the best of your ability every time out. You've got to put your personal feelings aside and your professionalism has to come out every day."

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Trivia time: What was the last baseball team to win a pennant after changing managers during the same season?

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Stand by your man: Before the British Open, Mark O'Meara's caddie, Jerry Higginbotham, bet 100 pounds on his man to win, at 40-1 odds. In other words, he made what would be about $6,500 in U.S. currency.

Higginbotham says he had so much fun watching O'Meara win, "I don't even care if I cash it."

Sure.

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Klutzes: If at first you don't succeed, quit and find something else.

In Sports Illustrated for Kids, some celebrated athletes admit they stunk at some other sports.

Steve Young: "I used to swim for a team at the Boys Club, but I can't open my eyes under water. They finally told me to go home because I kept hitting the wall."

Reggie Miller: "I once played four or five holes [of golf] and I couldn't get the ball into the air. I had someone else hit the ball to the hole. Then I putted as if I were on putt-putt course."

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Trivia answer: The 1983 Philadelphia Phillies, after Paul Owens replaced Pat Corrales.

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And finally: NBC's Bob Costas on celebrity: "When you see Barbara Walters sitting at the foot of a bed with Dennis Rodman and naming him one of her 10 most fascinating people of whatever year that was, you know that Barbara Walters has long since sold out because Barbara Walters doesn't remotely believe that Dennis Rodman is fascinating. What she thinks is fascinating is an 18.6 rating instead of a 16.4 rating and if Dennis Rodman can help her get it, she's willing to do that. That's her version of Jerry Springer letting people throw chairs at one another."

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