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THE INSIDE TRACK | MORNING BRIEFING

As a Politician, This Husker Now Has Ear of Voters

September 06, 2000|MARK HEISLER

Tom Osborne, the former Nebraska football coach, is running for Congress. Among Cornhusker fans is not whether he'll win but whether his winning percentage will reach his .836 career percentage on the football field.

After his overwhelming victory in the primary, his approval rating reached 90% in some polls, and he's a Republican running in a district that has had GOP congressmen continuously since 1930.

Not that he's your typical politician. Osborne has placed a limit of $300 on individual contributions and won't accept money from special-interest groups.

"In coaching, if you wanted to run a play up the middle, you ran up the middle," he says. "You go up there [in politics] and you're not going to have your opinion count for much. . . .

"We'll see what happens. People say I'm naive in regard to politics, but I think dealing with the NCAA is a good primer."

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Trivia time: Secretariat, Seattle Slew and Affirmed each won the Triple Crown in the '70s. How many times has it been won since?

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Say good night, Tuna: Reviewing videotape and interviewing participants, the New York Daily News' Rich Cimini suggests then-New York Jet coach Bill Parcells lost track of the score in last season's 30-28 loss to the New England Patriots in the teams' opener.

The tape shows Parcells walking toward midfield, presumably for the postgame handshake, before New England's Adam Vinatieri kicks the winning 23-yard field goal with three seconds left.

Parcells, apparently thinking the Jets already have lost, stops and raises his arms, seemingly confused. Moments later, he approaches defensive coordinator Bill Belichick and asks, "Are they crazy?"

Says Parcells: "That's so wrong it's ridiculous. I didn't lose track of the score. I lost track of the time for a second."

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And there's a game too! Struggling to sell baseball, the Minnesota Twins were shocked and surprised to see fans lining up the day before a game in which they gave away bobble-headed dolls.

Art and Arlyce Mahlberg of Duluth, Minn., arrived at the Metrodome on Saturday night for the next day's 1 p.m. game, when the Twins handed out Kirby Puckett dolls in their fourth giveaway.

"We don't have a Kent Hrbek doll, but we got the others [Harmon Killebrew and Tony Oliva]," Arlyce said. "We learned to get here a bit earlier for each giveaway."

One couple said they were offered $350 for their Puckett doll. A price of $112.50 for a Hrbek doll drew 30 bids on eBay.

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Timing is everything: Not everyone left the Metrodome happy after the Puckett doll giveaway, and it wasn't because the Twins lost, 13-3.

"We were in line in Gate D and they took boxes out of our line and gave them to lines that were moving faster," said Joan Fleischhacker of Stillwater, Minn.

"I wouldn't mind if I lose out on something cleanly, but we got penalized because our ticket-taker was slow on the draw."

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Looking back: On this date in 1995, Cal Ripken of the Baltimore Orioles played in his 2,131st consecutive major league game, breaking the record set 56 years earlier by New York Yankee first baseman Lou Gehrig.

Ripken got a 22-minute standing ovation and later hit a home run in Baltimore's 4-2 victory over the Angels.

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Trivia time: None.

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And finally: CBS' Mike Ditka, a former football coach, obliquely commenting on ABC's Dennis Miller, a comedian who's branching out: "We want to be entertaining but not for the sake of just trying to be funny. Enough people try to do that. That's a dig."

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