In closing, reliever not just a setup


Fact: NFL rookie coaches Bobby Ross, Dennis Green and Bill Cowher combined for a 33-15 record and three division titles, then got outscored, 79-27, in the playoffs.

Opinion: The Jays can easily replace closer Tom Henke with Duane Ward, but they don't have anyone to replace Ward as baseball's best setup man.

Fact: A steady rain soaked Candlestick Park for hours after the Niners-Redskins game last weekend -- and no one bothered to put on the tarp.

Opinion: The Eric Lindros trade is working out significantly better for Quebec, which has surpassed last year's point total in TC roughly half a season.

Fact: The new offensive coordinator at LSU, Lynn Amedee, is making his 13th stop as a college assistant.

Opinion: Duke losing to Georgia Tech in January is about as important as the Orioles losing to the Mets in March.

Fact: The Orioles and Blue Jays will close out the '93 season with a four-game series at Camden Yards.

Opinion: Dallas 23, San Francisco 21.

Fact: There were two, four, six, eight, nine pictures of Mike Ditka on the cover of the Bears' 1992 media guide.

Opinion: The best football analysis on the airwaves is Hank Stram on radio. He all but calls the plays.

Fact: Kentucky Derby winner Lil E. Tee, who hasn't run since bleeding in the Preakness, is back in training and will race again next month at Oaklawn Park.

Opinion: It's no less than remarkable that, after all these years, Joe Gibbs has lost just five postseason games (of 21).

Fact: Dan Rather gave a Dallas radio station his prediction before the Cowboys-Eagles game: 24-23 Cowboys, in overtime. Think about it.

Opinion: One of the sweetest pieces of Alabama's national title was that coach Gene Stallings was not some ego-tripping up-and-comer.

Fact: Looks like Clemens against Cone on Opening Day in Kansas City.

Opinion: Pittsburgh fans depressed about the Steelers' demise can take solace: It wasn't as bad as Francisco Cabrera with two out in the bottom of the ninth.

Fact: Early line on the Marlins' rotation: Charlie Hough, Jack Armstrong, Pat Rapp, Scott Chiamparino. Whew.

Opinion: It would be reasonable to think the Knicks could beat the Bulls in the playoffs if they weren't 5-9 on the road.

Fact: The Lakers swept their season series with the Bulls, but got swept by the Heat.

Opinion: The Orioles can't possibly be serious about counting on Glenn Davis to play first base.

Fact: Asked if he ever reflects on the good old days with the Lakers, Kurt Rambis said: "I have a lot of flashbacks, but none of them are about basketball."

Opinion: If the Orioles get 33-year-old Harold Baines to go with 32-year-old Harold Reynolds, the logical next step is to go after Harold (Hal) Newhouser, who led the American League in wins -- in 1948.

Fact: (from Modern Life, Vol. II) James Madison guard Kent Culuko, after taking three stitches in the lip from an intentional foul, says he may sue. Thinks the scar could ruin his modeling career.

Opinion: Jim McMahon will help some team make the playoffs next season. (Not the Eagles.)

Fact: Tom Lasorda on his busy off-season speaking schedule: "I've been honored 15 times this winter. That's hard for a guy who finished last."

Opinion: Big East basketball has become just another channel-surfing pit stop.

Fact: In my Dec. 4 column, I stated incorrectly that New York Yankees owner George Steinbrenner served a year in prison. He has spent no time in prison. I regret the error.

Opinion: Don Shula would not be coaching today had the Dolphins not drafted Dan Marino.

Fact: The Bills have a 4-1 record at Joe Robbie Stadium.

Opinion: Miami 20, Buffalo 17.

Fact: Walt Williams is averaging 14 points in 24 minutes in Sacramento.

Opinion: Professional sports' five worst-run franchises over the past five years: New England Patriots, Dallas Mavericks, Kansas City Royals, California Angels, Phoenix Cardinals.

Fact: Says Eddie Einhorn about the owners expanding the baseball playoffs: "From four teams to eight, that seems to be where it's heading."

Opinion: Jerrod Mustaf, invisible in the NBA, badly needed those two extra years of college ball.

Fact: Says Charles Barkley about 300-pound rookie teammate Oliver Miller: "His momma is big, too. She's so big she's from both sides of the family."

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