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THE INSIDE TRACK | MORNING BRIEFING

He Doesn't Get Fried by the French

July 21, 1999|SCOTT HOWARD-COOPER

Frenchman Jean Van de Velde found some sympathy from his own after his collapse in the British Open. He was hailed by one newspaper, Liberation, for "holding his club high so well, so long on British soil." That was before said club betrayed him, of course.

L'Equipe, the national sports daily and France's most widely circulated paper, featured a photo of Van de Velde on the cover and a back-page article titled, "And The Monster Ate Him," a reference to the brutal course in Carnoustie, Scotland.

"Seventy-one holes and one moment of distraction. Two hundred and eighty-eight strokes to live, two more to die. And that says it all."

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Add le choke: The press from the rest of the world was not so sympathetic.

"Jean Van de Velde didn't just blow the British Open Sunday at Carnoustie Golf Links," Jeff Williams wrote in Newsday. "He didn't just hand the title to a stunned Scotsman named Paul Lawrie, who won a four-hole playoff that also included Justin Leonard. Van de Velde didn't just lose. He self-destructed in a mushroom cloud of bad shots and horrible judgments so startling that reality was suspended and fantasy seemed all too real."

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Trivia time: Who was the last pitcher to finish every game he started in one season?

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Tough love: Paul Spadafora, a lightweight who will fight for the International Boxing Federation title Aug. 20, comes from a family of fighters. His grandfather sparred with Rocky Marciano. His brother was an amateur boxer.

And his mother, Annie, is a brawler.

In an interview with the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, Paul said of Annie, who used to break up fights when she worked as a bartender: "She's real tough. She can fight on the street, boy. I've seen her fight a lot of times. Her boyfriend tried to hit her, she took care of that real quick."

Or as writer Ed Bouchette said: "He is the brother, son and grandson of boxers, not necessarily all of them men."

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E-R2D2: The San Diego Padres and San Francisco Giants, two teams dealing with a present-day pennant race, play tonight with a look to the future, the first of a series of "Turn the Clock Ahead" games.

Players will wear hats and jerseys projected to be the style in 2021. Positions on the field will be renamed to reflect the future--shortstop will be "intermediate station" and left field "left sector." The scoreboard will be graphically enhanced with special effects and the sound system will be modified digitally.

Over the second half of the season, 22 clubs will participate in the promotion.

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Trivia answer: Ted Lyons, in 1942 for the Chicago White Sox. He started and completed 20 games, going 14-6.

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And finally: Just because Dale Jarrett says his run-in with Jeff Gordon at the end of a NASCAR race in New Hampshire--when the two exchanged words after Gordon's bump-and-run pass on the last lap--is history doesn't mean it's forgotten.

When NASCAR SpeedPark's Competitor track in Myrtle Beach, S.C., offered Jarrett the chance for payback during a brief family vacation there, he took it. Or gave it. With hundreds of fans in line to race against him in the mini-cars, Jarrett put Gordon's look-alike No. 24 mini-car into the wall.

The crowd roared in approval.

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