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THE INSIDE TRACK | PAGE TWO / RANDY HARVEY

Freeway Series May Have to Save the Best for Last

April 01, 1999|RANDY HARVEY

Mike Lupica says that his new book was inspired by the Mark McGwire and Sammy Sosa chase of Roger Maris' home run record, the remarkable rookie season of Kerry Wood, the inevitable but still sad ending to Cal Ripken Jr.'s streak, David Wells' perfect game, the Yankees' near-perfect season and Rupert Murdoch's purchase of the Dodgers.

OK, I made up that last part. But the rest of it indeed was inspiring for baseball fans.

"At a time in American life when we would all feel like some law had been passed requiring us to look through some White House peephole at Bill Clinton and Monica Lewinsky . . . baseball would feel as if it were saving not just the country, but the whole world," wrote Lupica, a New York Daily News columnist.

"For one magic season, everybody's eyes would be full of the sky."

The title of Lupica's book is "Summer of '98--When Homers Flew, Records Fell, and Baseball Reclaimed America."

If you read only one of the new baseball books out this spring, this is the one I'd recommend. I'm not sure about the title, though, whether baseball reclaimed America or merely enticed us back so that it can let us down again.

I am, however, encouraged by the start of this season. The Dodgers had something to do with that by arranging games on Saturday and Sunday at Dodger Stadium against the Yankees.

I know some fans are "mad as hell" because the traditional three-game Freeway Series between the Dodgers and Angels has been reduced to one game Friday night at Edison Field. But what rivalry in baseball is more traditional than the Dodgers vs. the Yankees, who have met in 11 World Series dating to 1941?

Besides, with interleague play, the Angels and Dodgers face each other in more meaningful games during the summer.

And who knows? Maybe this is the season they finally meet in a genuine Freeway Series in October. Now that would be a magic season.

*

If the Rangers win the American League West title, they should vote a playoff share to Angel coach George Hendrick for hitting Gary DiSarcina with that fungo bat. . . .

The good thing about the Angels' trade of Dave Hollins is that now they can sell seats behind first base. . . .

The bad thing is that they lose his leadership in the clubhouse. . . .

But isn't that one reason they're paying Mo Vaughn the big bucks? . . .

Pete Dalis was right to give Steve Lavin his new deal. . . .

Maybe Dalis shouldn't have hired such a young inexperienced coach two years ago for such a high-pressure job. But he did. Now he has to allow Lavin time to grow into the job. . . .

The timing of the announcement was important because one of the nation's top prospects, Carlos Boozer of Anchorage, says he will reveal his choice between UCLA and Duke on Saturday. . . .

It's easier to recruit if players know who will be coaching them. . . .

With his keen interest in the Bruins' uniform designs for next season, Baron Davis doesn't act like a player who's leaving for the NBA. . . .

The Bruins should wear polka-dots if that would sway him to stay for his junior year. . . .

Considering the low television ratings for the NCAA basketball tournament, March Madness is no longer accompanied by a fever. . . .

The World Figure Skating Championships are down considerably from the Tonya Harding-Nancy Kerrigan days but still attracted far more viewers Saturday night than either NCAA semifinal game earlier that day. . . .

Michelle Kwan, second in two of her last three major international competitions, believes she might do better if she focused on something other than skating. . . .

How about studying? Among universities she has applied to are Harvard, Stanford, California and UCLA. . . .

Watch for Florida half-miler Hazel Clark in Saturday's dual meet at Drake Stadium against UCLA. . . .

She's the daughter of Joe Clark, the high school principal who inspired the movie, "Lean on Me," and sister of national champion Joetta Clark. . . .

Bob Baffert shoves a jockeys' agent; Jalen Rose bloodies referee Dick Bavetta's nose while trying to slug Patrick Ewing; Chris Dudley hits Shaquille O'Neal in the back with a basketball; a 68-year-old IOC member threatens two colleagues with a martial-arts maneuver; Kevin Brown destroys a defenseless toilet. . . .

Can't we all get along?

*

While wondering where all the raves went for the Bulls' triangle offense, I was thinking: The Colts would be more compelled to trade their No. 1 pick if New Orleans threw in the French Quarter and Paul Prudhomme; Akili Smith would be a better choice for Cleveland than Tim Couch, too bad D-A-R-R-Y-L can't come West with the Yankees.

Randy Harvey can be reached at his e-mail address: randy.harvey@latimes.com.

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