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THE INSIDE TRACK | MORNING BRIEFING

The Only Thing They Have to Fear Is No. 23 Himself

June 04, 1998|MAL FLORENCE

Skip Bayless of the Chicago Tribune, writing why the Bulls will defeat the Utah Jazz in the NBA finals:

"They [Jazz players] are still afraid of Michael Jordan. [Karl] Malone can grow all the drugstore hair he wants, but it won't cover the bald spot in his subconscious when he sees No. 23.

"Deep down, Malone and John Stockton and Jordan wannabes Shandon Anderson and Bryon Russell fear Jordan as if he's the Prince of Darkness."

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Trivia time: Who holds the NBA finals record for assists in a game?

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A coffee break: Florida Marlin coach Rich Donnelly, on Mike Piazza's six days with the Marlins before he was traded to the New York Mets:

"It's a good thing he left. Our guys were about to elect him player rep."

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We'll never know: In an interview with Bob Ryan of the Boston Globe, Indiana Pacer Coach Larry Bird said: "If we had gotten by Chicago, I know we could have beaten Utah. We know how to beat Utah."

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Enough is enough: Mitch Richmond, now with the Washington Wizards after losing seasons with the Sacramento Kings:

"The saying is losing builds character. Well, I've built enough character. I want to find out what winning builds."

The Wizards aren't exactly the Bulls, Mitch.

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Yeah, but can he bunt? Nick Canepa of the San Diego Union-Tribune paid homage to Mark McGwire:

"[McGwire] is baseball's village smithy. Six-foot-5, 250 pounds. Red-headed. Testosterone with a splash of soda. More American than Vermont. Nice guy. Hits a baseball only where eagles dare. He is Paul Bunyan and his bat is his blue ox. He is DiCaprio and Cruise with muscle. Box office."

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More McGwire: He has almost as many home runs, 27, as St. Louis has wins, 29 before Wednesday's game against the Dodgers. He has a shot to become the first man to out-homer his team's win total. Closest call: Wally Berger, 34 homers in 1935, when his Boston Braves won 38 games.

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Does he shave? Jacobo Sequea, 16, the youngest pitcher in American professional baseball, gave up one run and five hits in his debut, leading the Class-A Charleston (W.Va.) Alley Cats to a 3-1 victory over the Hagerstown Suns on Monday night.

Sequea, of Venezuela, was signed as a free agent by the Cincinnati Reds in November.

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Looking back: On this day in 1990, Penn State was officially voted into the Big Ten Conference, becoming the 11th member of the league and the first addition to the conference since Michigan State in 1949.

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Trivia answer: Magic Johnson of the Lakers, with 21 against Boston on June 3, 1984.

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And finally: Chicago White Sox slugger Frank Thomas broke his bat in two last week--while hitting a home run.

The handle remained in his hands. The barrel came down at third base.

White Sox broadcaster Ed Farmer told the Philadelphia Inquirer: "My question is, where would the barrel of the bat have landed it he'd hit it at Coors Field?"

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