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THE INSIDE TRACK | MORNING BRIEFING

It's Not Easy to Get Back in the Saddle

August 05, 2000|JIM BARRERO

Jockey Frankie Dettori will make his racing comeback today yards from where he survived a plane crash in England that claimed his pilot's life.

Dettori, a two-time champion jockey, escaped from the Piper Seneca plane that crashed alongside the Newmarket course nine weeks ago. He broke an ankle and still bears the scars from cuts to his face. Fellow jockey Ray Cochrane escaped with burns, but pilot Patrick Mackey was killed.

Dettori, who has two mounts today, has expressed fears about how he will feel in a race. He believes his accident may end up shortening his career.

"Hopefully it will be like when you fall off your bike as a kid and get back on again," he said. "But I won't know until the moment I sit in the saddle whether I have lost the skill that got me there in the first place."

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Trivia time: Who was the last major league pitcher to win 20 games for a last-place team?

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The White stuff: Although the Chicago Cubs have been winning more than losing lately, Chicago Tribune columnist Bernie Lincicome isn't quite sold on their recent acquisition of outfielder Rondell White, whose bat seemed to benefit from the turf in Montreal.

". . . In order to take advantage of White's natural batting stroke, the Cubs admitted they will need to scrape off the grass, pave the infield at Wrigley Field and paint it green. Otherwise, the Cubs are paying $22 million for a 6-3 out."

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Fitting in fine: New Tampa Bay wide receiver Keyshawn Johnson told Gary Shelton of the St. Petersburg Times he shouldn't be compared to former Buccaneers Alvin Harper and Bert Emanuel.

"I'm different from them. You have to assess who you're dealing with, first of all," he said. "It was sad it didn't work out with them, but you have to understand, they're a long way from being me. I'm the complete package. I'm not a second receiver. I don't understand being a third option or a fourth option. That's not clear English to me. Maybe it is to them."

At least Johnson still has his humility.

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Keyshawn, meet Rodney: San Diego Charger safety Rodney Harrison claims he's not a dirty player, but wide receivers definitely push his buttons.

"All those wide receivers, they get a touchdown, they dance in the end zone and showboat for the crowd," he said. "So when I get a chance, I'm going to try to take their heads off."

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Trivia answer: Phil Niekro, who was 21-20 with the Atlanta Braves in 1979.

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And finally: Philadelphia Phillie Manager Terry Francona after Bruce Chen was outpitched by the Padres' Woody Williams in a 4-1 San Diego victory:

"He was tremendous. Their guy was tremendous-er."

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