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THE INSIDE TRACK | MORNING BRIEFING

He Doesn't Want to Think of Change, Pocket or Otherwise

August 22, 2000|SHAV GLICK

Once regarded as one of the premier soccer players in the world, Roberto Baggio suddenly finds himself on the unemployment line.

The 33-year-old striker, who as recently as 1998 was the key player on Italy's national team, is training solo this summer after Inter Milan dropped him from its squad to make room for youth.

"It's a new situation. For the first time in 20 years, I'm not at training camp," Baggio said. "It's tough to get used to."

Despite several nagging injuries in recent years, Baggio occasionally displays the form that made him 1993's European and FIFA world player of the year.

Baggio, who describes himself as "not greedy, but not stupid either" has turned down several offers from teams in Germany, England and Japan, hoping to latch on with a club in Italy's Serie A.

"I can't sell myself for pocket change," Baggio said in a recent interview with the Corriere della Sera newspaper. "But it's not for economic reasons that I don't have a team.

"Foreign teams have sought me out with serious offers, but I prefer to remain in Italy. It's a life choice."

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Trivia time: Which college football teams have the longest winning and losing streaks in Division I-A?

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In case you wondered: The NFL passer rating is a measurement based on the statistical achievements of all qualified pro passers since 1960.

It measures (per pass attempt): percentage of completions, average yards gained, percentage of touchdowns and percentage of interceptions.

Steve Young of the San Francisco 49ers set the record in 1994 with a rating of 112.8.

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Role models: A 15-year-old boy who punched a referee in the face in a junior league soccer match in Wales has received a lifetime ban, but the man who was hit blames the incident on professionals.

Referee Terry Lowrie, hit twice in the face at the end the match, accused Premier League stars of setting a bad example.

"There is no doubt that young players are taking their cue from the prima donnas they see on TV every week," Lowrie said. "They think that just because these professionals seem to get away with foul play they can do the same."

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Food for thought: Mike Biachi, in the Orlando Sentinel, asks, "Aren't you tired of troubled athletes claiming they are hanging out with the wrong crowd? Isn't it possible they are the wrong crowd?"

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Courageous complaints: Four-time ice dance world bronze medalists Shae-Lynn Bourne and Victor Kraatz will receive Canada's Meritorious Service Cross for "their courageous stand against unfair judging practices," Canada's Governor General has announced.

Bourne and Kraatz publicly protested what they said was rigged judging during the 1998 Olympic season, when they finished fourth in Nagano. Changes in the way the sport is judged have followed.

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Trivia answer: Marshall has won 18 in a row. South Carolina has lost 21 in a row.

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And finally: Actress Ann-Margret carried on her duties as grand marshal of the National Hot Rod Assn. Nationals at Brainerd, Minn., despite breaking some bones in a motorcycle crackup a day earlier.

Ann-Margret suffered three broken ribs and a broken left shoulder when she fell off the motorcycle, but she was back at the track Sunday, with her left arm in a sling, and rode in the pace car to lead the parade before the day's drag racing began.

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