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THE INSIDE TRACK | MORNING BRIEFING

In Twilight of His Career, Ripken Still Makes Magic

July 16, 2001|Earl Gustkey

Still reflecting on last Tuesday's All-Star game, John Eisenberg of the Baltimore Sun and Thomas Boswell of the Washington Post conclude Cal Ripken's home run in Seattle was one of baseball's great moments.

Boswell: "It's hard to give a nation goose bumps. Presidents attempt it in speeches and routinely fail. Ripken seems to do it on demand."

That Ripken did it against the Dodgers' Chan Ho Park carried added significance for Boswell, who pointed out National League batters were hitting .191 against Park.

"The twilight conditions were terrible for hitting. Nobody had hit a ball hard. Ripken had never seen a pitch from Park," Boswell wrote.

Eisenberg: "One night against the Yankees last week at Camden Yards, Ripken turned on a down-the-middle pitch and mashed the ball as hard as he could. It fell to earth short of the warning track.

"The lesson seemed clear: Though still able enough in the field and capable of hitting for a respectable average, Ripken, 40, could no longer hit home runs. He had totaled only four in 61 games this season.

"Thus, there was only one appropriate reaction when he stepped into the batter's box after acknowledging a standing ovation Tuesday night and pounded the first pitch for a home run.

"Unbelievable."

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Trivia time: Barry Bonds recently became the 17th major leaguer to hit 500 home runs. Name the two active players closest to that mark.

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Beer is back: After a vigorous lobbying effort by the Northwestern student government, university administrators have permitted the return of alcohol to pregame football tailgate parties this fall.

Booze was banned for two years because of repeated cases of underage drinking.

Commented student body president Jordan Heinz: "If the first one is horrible, people are drunk and shouting at visitors, there will be no second chance."

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Leave it alone! Attention Cub die-hards: They're going to start tinkering with Wrigley Field.

The Chicago Cubs announced recently that phase one of a two-part renovation plan will add 2,100 bleacher seats, a center-field restaurant, 200 luxury seats and a private club behind home plate.

Wrigley, which opened in 1914, will get a next-door building with retail shops, a Cub Hall of Fame and a restaurant.

The Cubs said they have no plans to rip out the ivy on the outfield wall.

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Jackie cashes in: The Portland Fire's Jackie Stiles is barely halfway through her rookie WNBA season, but the NCAA's all-time leading scorer just broke a WNBA endorsement record.

WNBA officials announced a Wal-Mart order for Jackie Stiles T-shirts was three times larger than for any other WNBA player. Even more impressive: The order was for only six Wal-Marts in the Springfield, Mo., area, where Stiles played at Southwest Missouri State.

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Trivia answer: Jose Canseco, 450. Ken Griffey Jr., 443.

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And finally: Who was most disappointed when voters in Charlotte, N.C., turned down a referendum that would have given the city a new NBA arena? The architects, according to Steve Cameron in SportsBusiness Journal.

"Just me personally, I've been working on the Charlotte arena for a year and a half," architect Doug Brown told Cameron.

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