Picked-up pieces while picking up the leaves:
* The flight attendant on United's 6:30 Boston-to-Chicago run last Friday night couldn't understand why the plane was so crowded. And she was amazed when the crew ran out of beer halfway over New York State. We politely explained that this was part of the Boston College airlift to Notre Dame.
* Ever notice how everything in life can be traced back to the Red Sox? President Bush Tuesday dismissed a State Department official who initiated a search for passport records of Bill Clinton and Ross Perot. The official was Elizabeth Tamposi, daughter of Sam Tamposi, a Red Sox limited partner.
* Carl Yastrzemski has taken his rightful place alongside the all-time greats. He's finally landed where all the great ones eventually land: Home Shopping Network.
* Is it any wonder Michael Jordan is bored with the NBA? Forbes lists his annual income at $35.9 million, but $32 million of that comes from endorsements. Think he cares about the playoff dough? His Uppityness was miffed Saturday night when the Bulls got their championship rings. Michael said he didn't think everybody in the organization should get the same ring as the players. There he goes again. Always thinking of others. Wonder if anybody knows what he left on the table at Monte Carlo.
* Dennis Eckersley says the Cy Young Award means more to him than the MVP, which might be coming his way before the end of the month. He also says he didn't watch a single inning of the 1992 World Series. It hurt too much after the A's playoff loss to Toronto. He's spending most of his time raising his 2 1/2 -year-old son. "It's full time, man," says the Eck. "The kid doesn't listen to anything I tell him." Trivia buffs, take note: Eckersley is the man the Red Sox sent to the Cubs when Boston acquired Bill Buckner. And like Babe Ruth, Eckersley spends his baseball winters in Sudbury.
* President Bush for commissioner of baseball? Makes sense to us. Too bad one of his sons owns the Texas Rangers.
* One more reason Red Auerbach should be applauded: The Boston Celtics are the only team in NBA history never to have had cheerlead ers. Twenty-six of 28 teams have cheering/dancing squads this year. Boston and Detroit are the only dissenters, and the Pistons once featured a tacky troupe named "The Classy Chassis."
* We meant to bring this up earlier, but what was the story with Roger Clemens going on network television to tell the world how he pitches to the Blue Jays and A's? Clemens is the guy who lies about his injuries because "I don't want to give the other guy any advantage." Fine. But how can he justify opening his secret files on how to pitch to Roberto Alomar, Mark McGwire and Co.? Would the answer be, "Money talks"?
* Guess those Australians weren't such nitwits, huh? Remember when the Aussies were mocked and scorned because one person raised a little objection about Magic Johnson's Olympic participation? It was Neanderthal thinking, until Karl Malone, Jerry Colangelo and others brought it on home to the NBA last week.
* Shaquille O'Neal sure looks like the real thing. The guy makes Darryl Dawkins look like Johnny Dawkins.
* Basketball Hall of Fame ballot? Julius Erving and Bill Walton are locks. Calvin Murphy is overdue.