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How to Lose Friends in a Hurry

Tom Fitzpatrick, columnist of the New Times of Phoenix, had a few choice words for Phoenix Cardinals owner Bill Bidwill and his team’s ticket prices.

With a ticket scale that “defies imagination,” Fitzpatrick wrote this week, Bidwill has a chance to be “the catalyst that turns the country against the NFL.”

Fitzpatrick compared Bidwill unfavorably with Indianapolis Colts owner Robert Irsay and with New York Yankees owner George Steinbrenner.

The columnist marveled that Bidwill had turned the Phoenix populace against him in less than 6 months, where Steinbrenner has not completely alienated New York after 15 years.

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With a ticket scale that averages $38 a seat, there were more than 7,000 empty chairs in Sun Devil Stadium for the team’s first National Football League regular-season game in Phoenix, a Monday night game against the Dallas Cowboys Sept. 12. Bidwill was booed when he was introduced.

It was fitting, Fitzpatrick said, that a 50-yard-line guest that night was Nelson Bunker Hunt, the Texas billionaire who filed for personal bankruptcy protection Wednesday.

Trivia Time: Kansas City Chiefs quarterback Steve DeBerg has started games for four teams--the San Francisco 49ers, Denver Broncos, Tampa Bay Buccaneers and Chiefs--but that isn’t the National Football League record. Which former quarterback started games for six teams? Answer below.

Speaking of starting quarterbacks, the St. Paul Pioneer Press Dispatch polled readers on whether Wade Wilson or Tommy Kramer should be running the Minnesota Vikings’ offense.

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Wilson, who started the opener, got 89.4 percent of the vote, Kramer 6.5 percent.

Apparently, Coach Jerry Burns wasn’t impressed. Kramer currently is his guy.

Add Viking QB: Although Kramer placed a distant second in the poll, he did beat out some write-in candidates, such as Burns, Vice President George Bush and comic strip cartoon character Tank McNamara.

The traditional Harvard-Yale game was under way in 1982 when the ground near the 50-yard line suddenly started to rise, as in a science fiction movie.

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Soon a giant balloon became visible, and lettering on the top revealed its origins: MIT.

Turned out that some fun-loving students from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology had planted the balloon there before the game and rigged it to be inflated by radio control.

Until today, it was the only way MIT could make an impression on the intercollegiate football scene. But today, the Beavers, who banned the sport 87 years ago, return to play an NCAA Division III game against Stonehill College of North Easton, Mass.

Is this Harvard’s and Yale’s chance to get even?

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Add MIT: Some things you probably didn’t know about MIT football, and would never think to ask:

--The Beaver players range in height from 5 feet 4 inches to 6-2 and in weight from 145 to 257 pounds.

--The team practices on artificial turf but plays on grass.

--The Beavers will play their home games at 1,600-seat Steinbrenner Field. It’s named after George’s father, Henry, who was a track star at MIT. George paid for the field.

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Back when: In 1916, Marty Kavanaugh of the Cleveland Indians hit the American League’s first pinch grand slam in a 5-3 victory over the Boston Red Sox, but it left the park in an unusual way. The ball rolled through a hole in the fence and could not be recovered in time.

Trivia Answer: In his 21-year career, 1956-76, Earl Morrall started for the 49ers, Pittsburgh Steelers, Detroit Lions, New York Giants, Baltimore Colts and Miami Dolphins.

Quotebook

U.S. synchronized swimming Coach Gail Emery, responding to a suggestion that her sport is more theater than athletics: “We basically have come from the Esther Williams water ballet era to a full-fledged athletic sport. Try running a 5-minute mile and holding your breath for two-thirds of it.”

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