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They're gathering at the old watering spot in Katmandu this very moment to celebrate the 40th anniversary Friday of Edmund Hillary and Tenzing Norkay becoming the first to make it to the top of Mount Everest. A gent named Reinhold Messner did the entire 29,000-plus feet alone and for years climbers have been doing it without oxygen. Nepal now charges expeditions a fee of $50,000.
* At press time today, hockey in Baltimore, East Coast Hockey League version, was hanging on by just a couple of fingernails.
* The game of Betsy King, who will be defending her Mazda LPGA title at the Bethesda Country Club June 10-13, seems to be shaping up just fine. Her 9-under-par 207 gave her fourth place, two strokes back, at the tour stop in Tennessee last weekend.
Recall, last year, all Betsy did in the Mazda LPGA was score a smashing 17-under 267, which was the all-time low score in a major championship event, male or female. The women are contesting the McDonald's Classic in Wilmington, Del., this weekend.
* How important is home-court advantage in the NBA playoffs? Since the league went to its current 16-team setup in 1984, the teams with the hammer hold a series win percentage of .777 (82-26). In conference finals and championship finals, the win percentage is a gaudy .852 (23-4).
* While many are recalling the exploits of Secretariat on this the 20th anniversary of his Triple Crown triumph, be advised this is also the 25th anniversary of the accomplishments of that fabled steed Dancer's Image. Recall, he was taken down in Kentucky for testing positive for a banned substance, then came to Pimlico and was knocked down from the show position to eighth for a bumping incident. That's a record, being DQ'd in two Triple Crown races.
* Considering all the fight game has meant to Madison Square Garden over the years, and vice versa, it's positively eerie that MSG says its boxing department will be no more after Labor Day. There hasn't been much action in the Garden itself for years, but the exhibition hall Paramount Theater seemed to be doing well.
* All that noise about cutting down on the average time of nine-inning baseball games seems to have subsided, and with good reason. No less than eight teams are actually taking more time to play their games now and the whole National League is playing at the 2:45-minute pace established in 1992. The American League has chopped six minutes, but its games still take longer (2:47).
* It will be like being stuck in a time warp at the Baltimore Arena May 20 when Ricky "The Dragon" Steamboat takes on Barry Windham, Dusty Rhodes checks out Paul Orndorff and Davey Boy Smith, "Ravishing" Rick Rude and Arn Anderson are also on the 7:30 p.m. card. Hey, weren't these guys duking it out in the WWF few years back?
* Forgetting how tough it is to decipher six-point type early in the day, does anyone actually plow through a 9-inch box score that details the names of runners left in scoring position and records the inherited base runners that cross the plate, and players who draw intentional walks? And what, pray tell, is "runners moved up?"
* The New York Rangers lead the pack, of course, not having won the Stanley Cup over the last 53 seasons. But, all told, fellow members of the old guard in the NHL don't have much to crow about either. It has been 38 years for the Red Wings, 32 for the Blackhawks, 26 for the Maple Leafs, 21 for the Bruins and seven years for the Canadiens: one title in a combined 170 years.
* A quick check done by the Major League Baseball Newsletter reveals that Martinez is the most common name on team rosters with seven members.
* Until the 1971-72 Lakers checked in with a ridiculous 69-13 record and .841 win percentage, the Washington Capitals of 1946-47 vintage held the pro hoops record for win percentage at .817 (49-11). For those of you who might have missed it, that's the old Bones McKinney-"Fat" Freddie Scolari-Bob Ferrick gang that got wiped out in the semifinals of the playoffs.
* While the NHL season might have ended ingloriously for Dale Hunter, the veteran winger drawing a 21-game suspension as the result of his sneak attack on an opposing player during the playoffs, it started gloriously with Dale's picture being on the cover of the Washington Capitals' media guide. Kiss of death?
* Wait just a minute. In a poll of NBA players, 18 percent did not name Michael Jordan as the most exciting player in the league?