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THE INSIDE TRACK | MORNING BRIEFING

New York Writer Took a Stab at Smith Eulogy

March 31, 2000|STEVE SPRINGER

Some may mourn the firing this week of New York Ranger general manager Neil Smith, along with coach John Muckler, but New York Post columnist Jay Greenberg isn't among them.

Wrote Greenberg: "Having left John Muckler staggering and bleeding from repeated stabbings in the back, Neil Smith ended up finally getting it himself. . . . That wasn't as much ironic as inevitable. Smith had devoted so much of his 11 seasons as Ranger GM to the destruction of competent, well-meaning and strong-minded organizational assets that, in the end, more were doomed to go down with him."

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Firings, continued: "After he has a good shower," Greenberg wrote of Muckler, "to wash away his two-plus-year association with Neil Smith, the coach presumably will remember he is in good company. On the list of persons whose complete track records indicate they were far better at what they did than the GM, whose insecurities drove them from New York, are Mark Messier, Wayne Gretzky and Mike Keenan."

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Trivia time: When was the last time the Chicago Cubs, who opened the season Wednesday against the New York Mets in Tokyo, played at a neutral site?

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Hot Kareem rumor: From Caught on the Fly in the Sporting News, "Now that the rumor [of Larry Brown's interest in becoming Clipper coach] is dead, no-guts assistant John Lucas and a certain current L.A. assistant, whose shirt's monogrammed "KA-J," move to the head of the "Verrry Interested" list. Mark this day: Rodents onto a sunken ship?"

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West Coast defense? More buzz from the Fly: "Curious why Eddie DeBartolo rolled over and let Sis take the Niners? Check the wiretap tapes playin' in a Louisiana courtroom that, um, intimate that he may, may, may've been into some big-time gambling debt, mixin' football biz with gaming displeasure. Think that set off alarms 'round Tags' little league?"

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Beware of Tigerphobia: Off the course, Hal Sutton is happy to acknowledge that Tiger Woods may be today's best golfer.

But on the course, Sutton thinks that attitude could be dangerous for the game.

"If you've got two or three of the top five players in the world saying, 'I don't think I can beat him,' well then, we're going to start to back down," Sutton said. "I just didn't want to see that happen."

It didn't Monday, when Sutton beat Woods by a stroke to win The Players Championship at Ponte Vedra Beach, Fla.

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Trivia answer: The Cubs' last game at a neutral site was Oct. 15, 1892, when they beat the St. Louis Cardinals, 1-0, at Kansas City, Mo.

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And finally: Students at a university in England are rushing to enroll in a course examining such weighty topics as soccer star David Beckham's new haircut and his celebrity marriage to Spice Girl Victoria Adams.

Staffordshire University is offering a 12-week "football culture" course in which, said Professor Ellis Cashmore, Beckham would be heavily featured. Cashmore described the 24-year-old England and Manchester United midfielder as "the icon of the icons."

Not everybody agrees Beckham deserves to be the focus of a course.

Said Parliament member David Kidney: "I struggle to find a practical use for it."

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