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Morning Briefing : Red Sox on Pace That’s Fit for a King

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Horror story: Novelist Stephen King is such a staunch Boston Red Sox fan that he says he’ll eat a chicken dinner on the lawn of his local newspaper in his underwear if the Sox are out of contention by Flag Day, June 14.

King made his offer in response to a column by sportswriter Bob Haskell that appeared in the Bangor (Me.) Daily News. Haskell, on opening day, predicted an early Red Sox fold and said the team would be out of the running by Flag Day.

King, in a guest column in the newspaper, challenged Haskell to a wager, the loser to pay for and host a chicken dinner for two on the lawn of the Daily News.

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“The loser has to eat it in his underwear,” King said. “You don’t have to smile for the cameras, but this would definitely be a public function.”

King said he would pick three sportswriters and Haskell could pick four, and a majority of the seven would determine whether or not the Red Sox are still in contention on June 14.

“If four or more say they are (out of the race), I will cater the chicken dinner,” King said. “If four or more say they’re still in it, the News caters the dinner.”

Haskell accepted the bet. The dinner is scheduled for July 1.

Postscript: With just more than three weeks to go until June 14, the Red Sox lead the Eastern Division.

Trivia time: Baltimore’s Eddie Murray has 14 career grand slams. Among players with 10 or more, Murray has the second-best grand-slams-to-games-played ratio in major league history. He averages one every 98 games. Who has the best ratio? (Answer in column 2).

Stengelese: Was Oakland A’s pitcher Curt Young rattled by seeing his first pitch of the game hit almost into the upper deck at Yankee Stadium Tuesday night by Rickey Henderson?

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Apparently not, because Young went on to win the game. All the same, Henderson’s shot did scramble Young’s grammar.

“He really jumped on it,” Young said. “He hit that ball a lot farther than it went.”

Casey would have been proud.

New wrinkle: As if the Chicago Bears didn’t already have enough for William (the Refrigerator) Perry to do, what with playing defensive lineman, running back and receiver, now they’ve added another task.

Vince Tobin, Chicago’s defensive coordinator, says Perry might add “inside linebacker” to his NFL resume. Tobin says Perry might drop back from the line and play alongside middle linebacker Mike Singletary in running situations next season.

“It gives us the flexibility to go back and forth from a 4-3 to a 3-4 (defense) without substituting,” Tobin said. “That gives you a tremendous advantage.”

Forty-four years later . . . : The ongoing squabble over the lighting--or lack thereof--at 70-year-old Wrigley Field in Chicago could all have been avoided had World War II not intervened.

The Wrigley Field lights had been delivered and were ready for installation when the attack on Pearl Harbor took place. So, instead of being installed, they were removed from the stadium and donated to the war effort.

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The Cubs have been in the dark ever since.

Trivia answer: Lou Gehrig, with a ratio of one grand slam for every 94 games.

Quotebook

Australian golfer Greg Norman, on indebtedness: “I owe a lot to my parents, especially my mother and father.”

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