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THE INSIDE TRACK | MORNING BRIEFING

Elasticity Serves Him Well Pitching Out of the Stretch

June 24, 1998|MAL FLORENCE

Cuban defector Orlando Hernandez is dazzling New York Yankee teammates with more than his pitching ability.

His flexibility is such he can stand on one leg and smoothly raise his other foot above the locker name plates in the team's clubhouse, some 6 1/2 feet off the floor.

"That's incredible," said 6-foot-6 teammate Darryl Strawberry. "I wouldn't even try that."

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Trivia time: How many no-hit, no-run games did Nolan Ryan pitch with the Angels?

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The legend grows: St. Louis Cardinal pitcher Todd Stottlemyre, on the fanaticism surrounding slugging teammate Mark McGwire:

"If he was a singer, they'd be calling him maybe the next Elvis. Or the previous one."

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More McGwire: He had 33 home runs by June 18. In the last half century, only three other Cardinals--Stan Musial, Dick Allen and Jack Clark--have hit 33 in a season.

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Overrated: Tony Kornheiser of the Washington Post, on the U.S. World Cup soccer team's 2-1 loss to Iran:

"Wait a second, I thought we were the great Satan. Not the 'Oh, he hit the post!' Satan. Or the 'better luck in Japan in 2002 Satan.' Or the 'choking imperialist dog Satan.' "

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Clumsy kicker: Ron Reid in the Philadelphia Inquirer: "His latest mini-camp was an injurious experience for Baltimore punter Greg Montgomery, and further proof that football is, indeed, a dangerous game.

"Kicking in a promotional video for the Ravens, Montgomery sprained his toe when he followed through and booted the camera."

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Ivy thief: Philadelphia outfielder Rex Hudler, who picked some leaves from Wrigley Field's ivy-covered walls as souvenirs for friends before ushers tried to intervene:

"I'd already picked them, they were going to die. So I tucked them into my glove and ran as fast as I could."

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Phantom team: Ron Borges in the Boston Globe: "Whoever ends up with the Cleveland [NFL] franchise will have plenty of cash to pay the players.

"More than 52,000 season tickets have been sold--for a team that doesn't exist and will play in a stadium that doesn't exist. Why did Art Modell ever leave?"

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Looking back: On this day in 1927, Riviera Country Club in Pacific Palisades opened. On July 23-26, Riviera will host the U.S. Senior Open.

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Trivia answer: Four--against Kansas City and Detroit in 1973; Minnesota, 1974, and Baltimore, 1975.

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And finally: Jayson Stark in the Philadelphia Inquirer: "In 1971, a glutton for punishment named Ron Hunt obliterated the record for pain absorption by getting hit by 50 pitches in one year.

"Since paces are trendy this year, you should know that by this date [last Sunday] in 1971, Hunt had been hit 14 times. But here in 1998, a new potential hit-by-pitch legend--Pirate catcher Jason Kendall--is ahead of that historic pace.

"Kendall already has been drilled 18 times. Ouch."

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