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THE INSIDE TRACK / A look at where they're playing
and what they're saying | MORNING BRIEFING

Abbott Tells Foes of Martin to Get a Grip

March 18, 1998|MIKE PENNER

Casey Martin has a new ally in the media, a guest columnist for Golf World magazine by the name of Jim Abbott.

"So what if the PGA Tour has to adjust its rules in order to help Casey compete?" Abbott writes. "Baseball did a similar thing for me."

Abbott, born without a right hand, was permitted to spin the ball in the palm of his left hand to find the desired grip while on the pitching rubber, technically a violation of baseball rules.

"It allowed me to spin the ball even though the strictest interpretation of the rules state that a pitcher must remain completely still before his delivery," Abbott continues. "It meant batters wouldn't be able to see my grip and thus be tipped off to what pitch I would be throwing.

"I wasn't given an advantage. I was merely being allowed to do something that everyone else was able to do naturally."

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Add Abbott: He also writes, "I know a lot about the heart of the athlete, which is the most compelling--and, sadly enough, overlooked--aspect of the whole Casey Martin debate.

"I don't know if I ever would have been able to challenge authority with the strength and determination he has demonstrated. It can't be easy to sue the governing body in your sport. . . .

"Casey has given us all another glimpse into the soul of a determined athlete. . . . As a society we are so much better with people like Casey Martin, who show us that heart is just as important as talent."

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Trivia time: Which three schools from the same conference reached the NCAA Final Four in 1985, an NCAA tournament first?

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Free medical advice: Paul Kariya retire at 23?

So suggests Dr. Robert Gordon of the Toronto Institute of Sports Medicine, noting that the Mighty Ducks' forward continues to suffer from post-concussion syndrome more than six weeks after having been hit by Chicago's Gary Suter.

"Does Paul want to get married and have kids and enjoy those kids 10 years from now?" Gordon asks. "He has to make that decision. But if he were my son, I'd tell him to retire."

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Messiah no more: Mark Messier has taken the brunt of media criticism in Vancouver for the Canucks' awful performance this season.

"Mark Messier is stealing money," writes Neil Macrae of the Vancouver Province. "The only thing that made the season worth looking forward to or created any hype was the signing of Messier and he has been nothing but a bust.

"Imagine paying some over-the-hill guy $6 million a year for what he used to do when he was surrounded by a bunch of proven winners and then expect him, at age 36, to make the Canucks respectable."

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Devil made him do it: After an uncharacteristic on-court scuffle with Antonio McDyess, Houston Rocket center Hakeem Olajuwon tried to explain himself by saying, "First of all, I fell into the trap of Satan. I didn't use good judgment. . . . It was Satan at work, and I gave in. I can't justify it."

Upon hearing that, Olajuwon's teammate Charles Barkley quipped, "Satan? Satan? I live the life of Satan. Satan's one of my brothers. Darrell, John and Satan."

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Trivia answer: Georgetown, St. John's and Villanova from the Big East.

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And finally: Barkley, on the state of professional basketball in the state of Texas: "If us and the Mavericks got into the NCAA tournament, neither one would be favored. We'd be, like, No. 3 seeds."

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