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THE INSIDE TRACK | MORNING BRIEFING

Mower Is Never Enough for Fans of This 'Sport'

July 23, 1999|SCOTT HOWARD-COOPER

The Nashville Network plans to televise six races from the U.S. Lawn Mower Racing Assn. starting Nov. 14, though on tape delay, those heartless TNN officials apparently unconcerned about putting viewers through the torture of having to avoid learning of the results ahead of time.

And NASGRASS--the North American Society of Grass Racing and Sod Slinging--must look on with envy because it is only a USLMRA affiliate.

Competitors--we would never call them mow-rons--pride themselves on being a few blades short of a full mulch basket during the 20 races that reach speeds of 85 mph on asphalt and usually no more than 45 on clay and the conventional green stuff. It gives the sport (?) that much more of a grass-roots appeal.

Said one fan, Josh Knapp: "The thing I like about this is that these people are willing to go out there and make fools of themselves."

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More mow-mentum: Next month, some of the racers go to England, where mower racing is three decades old. Next year, the British honor us with a return trip for a competition being called:

The Mowllennium.

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Trivia time: Which major league team once had two future Hall of Famers on its pitching staff and has had several other quality pitchers but is the team from before the 1969 expansion that still does not have a no-hitter?

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Mother lode: It was not lost on Pokey Reese of the Cincinnati Reds when Dwight Gooden of the Cleveland Indians punctuated a strikeout with a stare. Nor was it lost on Reese that escalating the situation would have implications.

"Big deal, he struck me out," Reese said. "But I'm not going to fight with a Hall of Famer. Besides, my mom might kill me. Gooden is her favorite player."

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Rankings redux: Bob Smizik of the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, on ESPN putting Stan Musial 61st and Mickey Mantle 37th on the list of the 100 greatest North American athletes of the 20th century, even though the Man had 1,215 more hits, 442 more RBIs, 1,014 fewer strikeouts and a batting average 33 points higher than the Mick:

"Mantle had two things going for him. He had 61 more homers than Musial and he played his entire career in New York. The latter, of course, was the reason he placed so high. Mantle is the most overrated player in baseball history; Musial one of the most underrated. But you'd think a select group of voters would have known the true case. Shame on the ESPN panel."

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Trivia answer: The New York Mets. Nolan Ryan, Tom Seaver, Dwight Gooden, Mike Scott and David Cone have combined for 11 no-hitters or perfect games--but all for other teams.

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And finally: Only in the IOC. The reason Stratis Stratigis resigned as president of the organizing committee for the 2004 Olympics in Athens is reportedly because he is feuding with the Greek government over his intention to attend the wedding of the daughter of Greece's deposed king in London.

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