When It Comes Right Down to It, He's a Softy

Bernie Miklasz of the St. Louis Post Dispatch, commenting on Cardinal Manager Tony La Russa: "Friends call [him] the load. He's heavy, that's for sure. Heavy in an intense, in-your-face, I'm cock-of-the-walk type of way. La Russa's internal hard drive never crashes.

"TLR is a fascinating, complex individual. In the winter, he's raising money for his animal rights foundation. He's a fan of ballet. He's into all sorts of warm and fuzzy causes.

"For all we know, La Russa probably hugs trees at his off-season home in Northern California."

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Trivia time: Who holds the record for most assists in an NBA finals game?

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Beer bust: In the 18th inning of a scoreless tie between the Diamondbacks and Giants, Arizona Manager Bob Brenly told his team he would cancel spring training next year if they won the game. Arizona scored that inning to win, 1-0.

Meanwhile, Brenly's office refrigerator was raided by players who were out of the game. "I think I had about nine beers," said Mark Grace, who left the game because of a hamstring injury in the seventh inning. "We almost ran out."

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Worth the price: Philadelphia 76er owner Pat Croce wanted to make the postgame excursion from his suite to the Eastern Conference finals presentation ceremony like Tarzan--via rope. But his wife and the 76ers' senior vice president, Dave Coskey, talked him out of it.

Croce said nobody would stop him from doing it in the NBA Finals.

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Catch me if you can: Scott Ostler in the San Francisco Chronicle: "Floyd Mayweather decisioned Carlos Hernandez in a super featherweight bout, and the loser griped. 'All he did was pepper me with jabs. He just kept running away from me.'

"They should've stepped outside and settled it."

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Tough sell: NASCAR Winston Cup driver Michael Waltrip discussed a childhood memory on Sunday's "Beyond the Glory" on Fox Sports Net:

"I'd organize 400-lap bicycle races around school . . . I would try to convince everybody that it would be a good idea to run 400 laps around the track instead of two or three."

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Astute observation: On Fox Sports Net's "The Last Word With Jim Rome," pitcher Denny Neagle of the Colorado Rockies talked about staying at the same hotel as President Bush in Los Angeles and encountering pickets: "I guess the President's groupies are a little bit different."

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Blocks out the sun: Blackie Sherrod in the Dallas Morning News: "So Buster Douglas, heavywgt champ for all of several weeks, is turning to acting, with the danger of being typecast as Goodyear blimp."

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The more the merrier: From comedy writer Earl Hochman: "Now that the city of Newport has cracked down on wild and raucous parties at Dennis Rodman's oceanfront home, don't be surprised if next, Dennis doesn't try to commandeer the Queen Mary to hold his shindigs."

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Looking back: On this day in 1977, the Portland Trail Blazers held off the Philadelphia 76ers, 109-107, to win the NBA championship in six games.

Portland became the first team in the 31-year history of the league to win four consecutive games after losing the first two.

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Trivia answer: Magic Johnson of the Lakers, 21, against Boston on June 3, 1984.

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And finally: New Jersey Devil defenseman Ken Daneyko: "All I know is I've got no teeth, top or bottom, except for a few in the back. But you don't get as many stitches these days. They use glue now, it's supposed to keep you from scarring as bad.

"But I'm not too worried about that. After my career is over, I'm pretty sure there isn't going to be a modeling job waiting for me."

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