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The Inside Track | MORNING BRIEFING

A Player's Neck Is Not All That Is at Risk

July 16, 2006|Jerry Crowe | Times Staff Writer

As you might imagine, just about anything goes when NFL players pile on top of one another in pursuit of fumbles.

"It's the worst," running back Julius Jones of the Dallas Cowboys told Playboy magazine. "You've got guys diving headfirst at one another. You're risking a neck injury. That's the most dangerous part.

"When you're on the bottom, they're going to do whatever it takes to get the ball -- punch you, grab your ..."

How about that, Lofa Tatupu? "I'll admit I may twist some fingers," the Seattle Seahawks linebacker said, "but I am not one of those groin grabbers."

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Trivia time: Why are left-handed pitchers called southpaws?

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Set some standards: Mike Bianchi of the Orlando Sentinel said the University of Miami should be embarrassed by reports that controversial linebacker Willie Williams, signed by the Hurricanes two years ago despite an extensive rap sheet, plans to transfer because of a lack of playing time.

"If you're going to sign a guy with 11 arrests," Bianchi wrote, "can you at least make sure he can run fast when he doesn't have a stolen TV under his arm?"

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The horror! Mike James, who signed last week with the Minnesota Timberwolves, will wear No. 13, a number he first wore at Duquesne when someone told him it was unlucky.

"Plus, I'm from Amityville," he told reporters, "and you know that story."

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Overlooked pioneer: In 1888, while Yale football Coach Walter Camp tended to his clock business, his wife, Alice Graham Camp, ran the team's practices. The result: The Bulldogs were 13-0 that season and outscored their opponents, 698-0.

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Not wooed by Wie: Greg Cote of the Miami Herald, on Michelle Wie's continued attempts to become the first woman since 1945 to make a cut on the PGA Tour: "You lead golf in hype. And that's fine. But before foisting your circus on the PGA Tour, try winning a women's tournament. At least one, OK?"

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Isn't that the blimp? Scott McGregor, a former El Segundo High left-hander who relied more on guile than power while compiling a 138-108 record in 14 seasons with the Baltimore Orioles in the 1970s and '80s, told the Baltimore Sun that he once pitched a complete game while making only 75 pitches.

"Hitters didn't take many pitches on me," McGregor said, "because the ball looked like a balloon coming to the plate."

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Trivia answer: According to "Uncle John's Extraordinary Book of Facts and Bizarre Information," Chicago sportswriter Charles Seymour coined the term in the late 1890s, when most baseball parks were laid out so that pitchers would face west and batters would face east (so the sun wouldn't shine in their eyes). That meant that left-handed pitchers threw with the arm that faced south.

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And finally: Jay Leno, on Commissioner Bud Selig's recent comment that baseball was in the midst of a "golden era," despite the ongoing steroid scandal: "That's putting a positive spin on it. I guess that's what they call it now when they make everyone urinate into a cup: 'It's the golden era.' "

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