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They’d Just Love to Get the Shirt Off His Back

Considering his undeniable talent, it’s a given that British soccer star David Beckham will be pursued with intensity when visiting England plays Liechtenstein on Saturday in a European Championship 2004 qualifier at Rheinpark Stadium in Vaduz.

Expect to see an equally intense chase after the game.

After all, there’s the traditional jersey swap.

The players from the tiny Alpine country are hardly full-time professionals; they hold traditional jobs. And a worn Beckham jersey has been said to be worth more than 3,000 English pounds.

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“There is going to be a fight among us,” teacher Frederic Gigon told the Sun, a British newspaper.

Goalkeeper Peter Jehle concurred, saying: “I want Beckham’s shirt too. He is a god, not a footballer.”

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No sour grapes: The BBC’s Web site dug up other pertinent facts about the seemingly overmatched soccer side, including this one:

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Liechtenstein’s 34-year-old defender, Harry Zech, missed a qualifying game against Turkey, a 5-0 loss, in October.

But he had a good excuse. He was said to be harvesting his grapes.

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Trivia time: Who was the first player to play for a school that won an NIT championship and was an NCAA runner-up in the same season?

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Bag men: Style regulations, including crackdowns against wardrobe items such as jewelry and loose-fitting uniforms, are in vogue in baseball this spring. Fashion police are mobilizing.

“When they say excessive bagginess of the pants could alter the outcome of the game, that’s the biggest crock ... I ever heard,” Pittsburgh Pirate first baseman Kevin Young told Bloomberg News.

David Ortiz of the Red Sox received a warning when an umpire told him his uniform pants weren’t being worn to specifications.

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Young has been working on finding the right fit.

“It’s been funny in a way,” Young said. “But there are certain days, when you go 0 for 3 with two [strikeouts], that you don’t want to hear anything about your pants. That’s when you get irritated.”

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Photo finish: You could say the NFL coaches’ photo is a lot like a high school class photo. Except in pro football, the pictures don’t change because of graduation.

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“I was looking at that first coaches’ photo yesterday, and there’s only one guy that was in the first one I was in and that’s Dan Reeves,” Dallas Cowboy Coach Bill Parcells told reporters in Phoenix.

“I can remember the first picture that I was ever in, 1983, Bud Grant was ... standing right behind me. As we were kind of getting ready to take the picture, he said, ‘This is like taking pictures of bomber pilots. When you come back next year, there are going to be a few missing.’ I always remembered that.”

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Trivia answer: Hall of Famer Dick McGuire. He started the 1944 season with eventual NIT champion St. John’s. At mid-season, he was drafted and stationed at Dartmouth. McGuire played for Dartmouth, which lost to Utah in the NCAA final.

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And finally: Sacramento King forward Chris Webber, on being hampered by a sore ankle: “I can’t run, I can’t jump. I’m throwing up old-man jumpers.”


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