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THE INSIDE TRACK | MORNING BRIEFING

Which Is It? Is He Ready, or Just Short?

April 14, 1999|STEVE SPRINGER

It's third and long for former UCLA quarterback Cade McNown heading into this weekend's NFL draft. His questionable arm strength and lack of height at barely 6 feet have left him projected as a late first-round or early second-round pick.

But McNown can at least take heart from a draft analysis by the Sporting News, which says of him, "The quarterback most ready to step in and play in the NFL. Clutch performer. Great intangibles and leadership. Shows awareness."

But it also says of McNown: "Arm strength is a question. Has a side-armed release that hurts his accuracy. On the short side."

Bottom line: The Sporting News figures McNown will go 22nd, the fifth quarterback selected.

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Trivia time: Two ballparks still in operation opened on the same date, April 20, 1912. Name them.

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A date worth skipping: Chicago Tribune columnist Skip Bayless is staunchly in the corner of the Chicago Cubs, so much so that he may have painted himself into that corner.

"If the Cubs finish worse than second," Bayless wrote, "I'll do the macarena naked on the Wrigley Field pitching mound (At 4 in the morning, lights off, nobody watching)."

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No highway to heaven: A proposal has been made to name New York's West Side Highway after Yankee Hall of Famer Joe DiMaggio, who died last month.

Said comedian Dennis Miller: "I'm sure the Yankee Clipper would be proud to have his name on that potholed, garbage-covered stretch of hell. Thanks for the memories, Joe."

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Close, but no cigar: Hall of Fame center Bill Russell, whose Boston Celtic uniform will be re-retired in Boston's FleetCenter on May 26, coached the team during his last three years as a player, succeeding Red Auerbach.

Russell originally told Auerbach he didn't want the job, then accepted.

"That's the one time I could make sure that I have a coach I like as much as I like you," Russell told Auerbach, "maybe more."

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More changes: Simply winning a PGA Tour event no longer will get you into the Masters. The idea behind the change is to strengthen the field, even though the Masters will remain the weakest of the fields among majors as long as Doug Ford, Gay Brewer and other aging former champions continue to play.

"Not to say that the tournament winners aren't very good players . . . but it's going to be the most consistent player week after week that's going to be in there," said Will Nicholson, chairman of the competition committee for the Masters.

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Trivia answer: Detroit's Tiger Stadium and Boston's Fenway Park. This is the last season for Tiger Stadium, with Detroit moving to a new park a mile away next season.

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And finally: The San Francisco Giants will be leaving 3Com Park after this season, their 40th there, to move into the new PacBell Park. The Giants' final regular-season game at the park formerly known as Candlestick will be against their archrivals, the Dodgers, on Sept. 30.

Was that a case of farsighted scheduling?

Said Larry Baer, the team's chief operating officer, to the San Francisco Chronicle: "We're not that smart."

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