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The Inside Track

Hot Corner

June 26, 2002|Larry Stewart

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. One exception: No products will be endorsed.

What: "Answer Guy"

Author: Anonymous

Publishers: Hyperion and ESPN the Magazine

Price: $12.95

There are lots of questions in this 158-page paperback book, but few straight answers. The answers are there, the reader just has to weed through a lot of cutesy prose to find them.

The book is a compilation of Answer Guy columns from ESPN the Magazine. And like so much of what is in the magazine, it's a difficult read.

This is the second book that ESPN the Magazine and Hyperion have teamed up on. The first was Dan Patrick's "Outtakes."

Right after a flippant foreword by Patrick comes the first hint that things are going to be complicated. There's a two-page guide that is supposed to help explain the author's madness. Sources are named in italic type, their answers are in roman and what Answer Guy has to say is in bold face.

If it sounds hard to follow, it's because it is.

The book's first question is, why is a basket worth two points? It's a good question, as are most in the book. The first source, scout Marty Blake, doesn't know. Neither does ESPN's Mike Soltys. An NBA historian finally gives the right answer--that they had to differentiate a field goal from a foul shot. In some early leagues--around 1902--a field goal was one point and a foul shot a half point.

The next question is, why do football teams get four chances to make a first down, followed by another convoluted answer. Maybe long, convoluted answers are needed to fill up the book. Is that the reason? Maybe Answer Guy knows the answer to that.

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