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THE INSIDE TRACK | THE HOT CORNER

A consumer's guide to the best and worst of sports media and merchandise. Ground rules: If it can be read, played, heard, observed, worn, viewed, dialed or downloaded, it's in play here.

November 14, 2000|LARRY STEWART

What: "Real Sports With Bryant Gumbel"

Where: HBO

When: Tonight, 10

The lead story on this edition of "Real Sports" deals with Joe DiMaggio, although if you're a DiMaggio fan you're not going to like it. The segment focuses on Richard Ben Cramer, who has written a biography that trashes the Yankee Clipper.

Correspondent Bernard Goldberg interviews Cramer, who is not very likable whether you're a DiMaggio fan or not.

The key issue is Cramer's credibility, and this segment does not answer that question. However, DiMaggio's lawyer and friend, Morris Engelberg, does a pretty good job of discrediting Cramer.

"He turns a hero into a villain with falsities, lies, innuendoes and I don't believe the American public is going to buy this," Engelberg tells Goldberg. "This man never met Joe, shook his hand, spoke to him, had a cup of coffee with him. It's not Joe DiMaggio. Anyone who met Joe DiMaggio would know it's not him."

Cramer's response to Engelberg's charges is too disgusting to put in a family newspaper, and HBO shouldn't have used it either. Maybe HBO should have scrapped the whole segment. It's really not worthy of "Real Sports," at least not as it is presented.

Nothing wrong with the second segment, except HBO got beat by ESPN on this one. It's about the Marshall plane crash 30 years ago today. ESPN did an hour on the subject, as opposed to HBO's 15 minutes, and first showed it on ESPN last Wednesday. It will be rebroadcast on ESPN Classic today at 4 p.m.

Many of the people interviewed for the ESPN special are also part of the HBO feature. One difference is the inclusion of Marshall radio announcer Keith Morehouse, whose father, Gene, was the school's radio announcer in 1970 and died in the crash.

The third story is on Pat Croce, president and minority owner of the Philadelphia 76ers who was formerly the team's strength and conditioning coach.

The final segment is on whether visors should be required in the NHL. The focus is on Toronto defenseman Bryan Berard, who was left blind in one eye after absorbing an inadvertent stick to the head last season.

Berard says he regrets not wearing a visor the night of the injury but otherwise would not wear one. "I mean, this did happen," he says, "and if--to go back that night--I would probably have put on a shield to prevent the injury. But that next game I probably would have took the shield right off."

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