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THE INSIDE TRACK | MORNING BRIEFING

It Gets Hotter for Showalter in Arizona

July 28, 1999|MARK HEISLER

For Buck Showalter's first two years as manager of the Arizona Diamondbacks, no one said a bad word.

Of course, the team didn't play any games until his third year. Now, he's in his fourth, his team is in contention but the honeymoon is over, nonetheless.

Critics charge he's inflexible and a slave to statistics. Criticism crescendoed recently when he pulled Randy Johnson after eight scoreless innings, the bullpen blew the game in the ninth and the Big Unit noted that in the good old days in Seattle, Lou Piniella "let me call my own game, whether I want to come out or stay in."

Said Showalter, "Randy has pitched more innings than anyone in baseball and a manager's top priority has to be the health of his people. I wish sometimes I was a little more callous to the health of my players. Sure would make things a lot easier."

Or maybe not. The only way to win, even in Year II with an expansion team, is to win.

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Mea culpa: Commissioner Doug Logan of Major League Soccer has identified the culprit in his league's embarrassing all-star game that drew only 23,277 in San Diego:

Himself.

"I thought that the game . . . was a pretty terrific game but from the standpoint of the promotion . . . I am not pleased with our performance or my performance in it," Logan said.

"I don't know if it was a good judgment to put it in a neutral site two years in a row, and once we put it in a neutral site, I probably should have found the resources to put five or six or seven of our own people in there to control the promotion of the game. . . . From my standpoint, I am not pleased with the way we promoted the game."

Now if he can just find a way to explain the 0.8 TV rating. You should get that many viewers who left their sets on by mistake.

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Trivia time: Who is the only hitter who led the league in batting playing for a first-year expansion team?

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Never mind: The "Girls of Track And Field" calendar features several female athletes posing nude with appropriate objects, a discus, for instance--this is about sport, remember?--for cover.

A recent issue of Runner's World advertised "Suzy Hamilton Revealed" in which the scantily-clad runner struck various provocative poses, declaring, "I've worked hard on my body and I'm not afraid to show it."

"Wait a minute," writes Doug Robinson of Salt Lake City's Deseret News. "I thought women didn't want to be sex objects. I thought they wanted equality and recognition of their skills, not curves. What happened? Did I miss something?"

Just a bunch of contradictions.

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Trivia answer: Andres Galarraga of the Colorado Rockies.

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And finally: Detroit Piston Coach Alvin Gentry, on meeting a man claiming to be Glen Rice's shooting instructor: "I was like, 'Yeah, and your duties would be . . . ?' I mean, Glen Rice is one of the purest shooters ever. What's this guy do, stand under the net and throw the ball back out to him? That's like saying you coach Tiger Woods' golf swing. Come on, now."

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