Morning briefing

Times Staff Writer

Outfielder Kosuke Fukudome made the cover of Sports Illustrated, meaning the Chicago Cubs' standard jinx (that billy goat thing) was given a bad-performance enhancing drug.

Fukudome, though, quickly dismissed any jinx notions, telling the Chicago Tribune through an interpreter, "It's other people who aren't on the cover who say it's a jinx, that my [performance] might go down. But it's actually me playing, so I'll try my best not to follow the footsteps of the other people on the cover."

Fukudome was true to his word, going four for four Thursday.

Fukudome has the jinx covered

As for the team? Well, closer Kerry Wood looked more like kindling, Alfonso Soriano couldn't chase down a fly-ball double and the Cubs blew a three-run lead in the ninth.

Maybe the definition of "jinx" doesn't translate well into Japanese.

Trivia time

How many Cubs players have previously been featured on the Sports Illustrated cover?

The answer is . . .

The loss caused Cubs Manager Lou Piniella to flash his famous temper. Asked whether he had thought about putting in a defensive replacement for Soriano, Piniella snapped back, "You're damn right I thought about it. You think I'm stupid or something?"

Answers can be sent to: Wrigley Field, 1060 West Addison St., Chicago, IL 60613.

From Lou to Lee

Piniella's sharp comment came during a week the Chicago Tribune went gaga over one of the greatest moments in Cubs history -- the 25th anniversary of Manager Lee Elia's meltdown.

The Tribune ran a slew of stories remembering April 29, 1983, when Elia lashed out, "[expletive] those [expletive] fans who come out here and say they're Cub fans, that are supposed to be behind you, rippin' every [expletive] thing you do . . . "

Still, it seems like another case of Chicago trying to live up to Los Angeles standards. You want to hear a real rant by a manager? Go ask Tom Lasorda what he thought of Dave Kingman's performance.

Baby boomer

Kentucky basketball Coach Billy Gillispie offered eighth-grader Michael Avery a scholarship last week. As day-care centers and maternity wards nationwide prepared for the latest escalation in recruiting, the Lexington Herald Leader reported that Kentucky President Lee T. Todd blurted out the words on everyone's mind:

"An eighth-grader?!"

Eli's going

Indiana center Eli Holman exited the Hoosiers program Thursday, telling coaches that he was transferring, then throwing a temper tantrum that brought campus police, the Associated Press reported.

"His behavior took me, along with the other people in the office, by surprise," Indiana Coach Tom Crean said in a statement. "We saw him as a danger to himself and wanted to take precautionary measures to help him. We felt bad for Eli and, hopefully, were able to help him."

Wow, someone in the Indiana basketball program throwing a childish fit? No way.

Still, follow this scenario: Holman transfers to Texas Tech, then has his image whitewashed by ESPN, where he becomes an analyst . . . nah, could never happen.

Trivia answer

10 -- Ron Santo, Ernie Banks, Ferguson Jenkins, Leon Durham, Rick Sutcliffe, Andre Dawson, Ryne Sandberg, Sammy Sosa, Mark Prior and Wood. None appeared in a World Series game with any team, let alone the Cubs.

And finally

Notre Dame Athletic Director Kevin White remains dead set against altering Bowl Championship Series rules, saying this week, "If it ain't broke, don't fix it."

Awfully magnanimous, considering the rules didn't allow for a 3-9 Fighting Irish team to go to a BCS game.


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