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He’s Too Good for Oval Office

Is this a great country, or what?

Columnist Gene Collier of the Pittsburgh Press was the latest to ask that question when he started thinking about baseball salaries and politicians and whatnot.

“Do you know why the .213-hitting shortstop of the Pirates who drove in 11 runs in 122 games last year does not want to be President of the United States?” Collier asked.

“Because he doesn’t want to take a pay cut.”

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Add Pirates: The shortstop in question in Collier’s column is Rafael Leonidas (Raffy) Belliard.

Belliard makes--or made, it’s probably double by now--$225,000 a year.

President Bush makes $200,000.

The Bigger Apple: Back in the late 1960s and early 1970s, the Knicks were virtual gods in New York, and center Willis Reed was one of them.

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Now coaching the nearby New Jersey Nets, Reed is concerned that another Knick center, Patrick Ewing, and the rest of the team might overshadow the exploits of his day.

“I told Patrick not to let the Knicks get so good that they’ll forget about us,” Reed said. “He said not to worry about it, he won’t let it happen.”

Yacht? What yacht? British Olympic champion Bryn Vaile returned home from his honeymoon this week to find that his gold medal-winning yacht had been stolen.

“It’s unbelievable that it has gone because it’s unsalable,’ said Vaile, 32, who struck gold in Seoul with Mike McIntyre in the Star class.

Question: did Vaile mean unsalable as in it couldn’t be sold, or did he mean unsailable as in it couldn’t be sailed?

Both, apparently.

“There are so few of them,” Vaile said. “Nobody could race or sail it because its markings are so clear.

“It was like a child to me. My wife would say the boat was probably my first love for most of last year. It was something I shared so much time with.”

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Omen time: The New York Rangers began the month of March in first place for the first time since 1942, the last season they finished on top in the regular season.

His number’s up: It didn’t take Joe Kleine long to learn about Celtic tradition when he was traded to Boston by the Sacramento Kings.

“Jan Volk (the general manager) called me and we started to pick out a number, only they don’t have any numbers. They’re all retired,” Kleine said.

“It took 15 minutes to pick out a number. I realized these guys are doing something right.”

For what it’s worth, Kleine is No. 53.

Quotebook

Said Ken Oberkfell, formerly of the Atlanta Braves: “If they had told me four years ago I was going to Pittsburgh, I’d have said, ‘Oh, no, c’mon, not there, not Pittsburgh.’ ”


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