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THE INSIDE TRACK | Morning Briefing

And That Other Saying? Oil's Well That Ends Well

September 16, 1998|HELENE ELLIOTT

What's that famous saying? Those who ignore history are condemned to repeat it?

The Boston Red Sox can't ignore their ignominious history because fans and writers won't let them. But they may end up repeating it anyway.

Watching the Red Sox's American League wild-card lead dwindle, Dan Shaughnessy of the Boston Globe noted the eerie parallels to 1978, when the Red Sox squandered a huge lead and lost the AL East Division title to the New York Yankees in a one-game playoff highlighted by Bucky Dent's dramatic home run.

Shaughnessy spoke to some of the Red Sox who suffered through that loss, among them Jerry Remy, now a broadcaster.

"Nah, we hardly ever get asked about '78 at all," Remy said, "Just every time the Sox lose five in a row."

Don Zimmer, now a bench coach with the Yankees, was the manager of that team.

Wrote Shaughnessy, "Twenty years ago, Zim steered the pro sports equivalent of the Exxon Valdez, running it aground and unleashing a toxic spill from which New England has never recovered."

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Add Sox: Zimmer seems to have recovered, but he empathizes with still-suffering fans.

"Because of the way things have happened over the years, I understand how people are feeling," he said. "Personally, I'm rooting for the Red Sox and Cubs, two teams that fired me. But as a manager, you just have to make sure you keep your club playing hard. Boston's still got the best of it."

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Trivia time: Three players who played in the NBA last season once played for the San Diego Clippers. Who are they?

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Ram tough: In the wake of players-only meetings Friday and Monday, the St. Louis Rams have asked Coach Dick Vermeil to lighten up.

Broadcast reports in St. Louis last weekend said players, unhappy over Vermeil's long practices and meetings, were threatening to mutiny. They apparently didn't go that far, but Monday they did ask Vermeil to cut back.

"Maybe with a little more rest, we can come out a little crisper," tackle Wayne Gandy said.

But are they overworked, or under-talented? The Rams are 0-2 and haven't had a winning season since 1989.

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He does it his way: Zippy Chippy, the 7-year-old gelding who tied a thoroughbred racing record with his 85th consecutive loss last week at Finger Lakes racetrack in Farmington, N.Y., has his own style, according to Rick Coyne, steward of the Finger Lakes Racing Assn.

"He just stands there [in the starting gate] and looks at the rest of the horses go on, and decides to go at his pleasure," Coyne explained.

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Trivia answer: Terry Cummings, Ricky Pierce and Tom Chambers.

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And finally: When the Rev. Jerry Falwell hired former Cleveland Brown coach Sam Rutigliano as coach of Liberty Baptist College in Lynchburg, Va., 10 years ago, Falwell promised that Rutigliano would deliver the Division I-AA school to the same football promised land as Notre Dame. Well, not quite.

"I'll be in a nursing home when they play Notre Dame," Rutigliano said. "Though last year, we did that. Our volleyball team played Notre Dame. So Jerry's not a false prophet."

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