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THE INSIDE TRACK | MORNING BRIEFING

You Miss One Game, and They Get All Over You

July 14, 1999|SCOTT HOWARD-COOPER

Baseball's All-Star game went off Tuesday night without Juan Gonzalez, the Texas Ranger star who refused to go as an American League reserve when fans did not vote him in as a starter in the outfield. And people continued to go off on Gonzalez.

"He's an acute embarrassment to the Rangers," Frank Luksa writes in the Dallas Morning News, just warming up.

"In snubbing the All-Star game, Gonzalez abdicated responsibility that escaped his moody motive. He owes fans who voted for him to be there. He owes the Rangers to showcase their presence among the elite. He owes teammates because he represents them along with himself.

"Spurning the All-Star honor insulted one and all. Juan emerges as callous and careless, devoted to self rather than tuned to the game all-for-one duty of a consummate pro."

That's not all: Luksa had more to say about Gonzalez: "Who is in charge of public relations for Juan Gonzalez . . . Kevin Brown?"

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Trivia time: Who was the first major leaguer to be named most valuable player of an all-star game played in his home stadium?

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Clip and save: The Chinese women's soccer team returned to Beijing triumphant in spirit, at least.

"We didn't lose because of spirit or strength," defender Zhao Lihong said after the flight back from California, and after the defeat against the United States in the World Cup final at the Rose Bowl on Saturday. "We lost because of luck."

Said goaltender Gao Hong: "At the Olympics next year, if we have this kind of competition, I won't let one ball in."

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Star power: The awesome showing by Mark McGwire in the first round of the home run contest Monday night in Boston, even if it basically lasted only for that first round, was a most visible reminder of the contrast between fan-favorite events among NBA and baseball all-stars.

The elite took part in the competition at Fenway Park, a day before the All-Star game itself: McGwire, Sammy Sosa, Ken Griffey Jr. et al.

Consider the slam dunk contest the NBA used to stage every year at its all-star weekend, also the day before the game itself. Michael Jordan last participated in 1988 and Dominique Wilkins, though hardly at the end of his career, in 1990.

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Labor pains: From Bruce Jenkins of the San Francisco Chronicle on the NBA:

"If it's in the worst interests of a sport, count on the players' union to support it. NBA Commissioner David Stern actually decided to do something about his shoddy product, suggesting an age limit of 20 for incoming talent, and union head Billy Hunter was appalled. All he can see is one less millionaire; common sense be damned."

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Trivia answer: Catcher Sandy Alomar of the Cleveland Indians led the American League team to a 3-1 victory at Jacobs Field in 1997.

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And finally: Among the 235 applicants to be a ballperson at the U.S. Open tennis tournament--a minimum-wage, two-week job that begins in late August in New York--is Kenny Kramer, the inspiration for the character of the same last name on "Seinfeld."

The TV character, played by Michael Richards, had the job in one of the episodes. This character, like most of the other hopefuls, should find out in a couple weeks if he gets it.

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