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Maybe I read it wrong but it seems as if U.S. Soccer Federation head Hank Steinbrecher wouldn't mind if U.S. fans got more passionate and involved (rowdy?) with their team. "I'm very concerned," he says. "American fans are very, very polite, more like a Wimbledon crowd than a Manchester United crowd." Maybe if the USSF sprang for a bunch of tickets and invited the riffraff in. . . .
* Chick Lang Jr., who used to work at this paper and at Pimlico, is leaving his job as administrative director of Oaklawn Park in Arkansas to be general manager at the under-construction Retanna Park in San Antonio, Texas.
* The fact that Greg Norman is averaging more than $100,000 for every golf tournament entered this year begs the question: Why would he ever take a week off? Then again, Jose-Maria Olazabal has pocketed $532,000 in just three PGA Tour appearances.
* I was beginning to take that women's professional baseball team, the Silver Bullets, seriously until it showed up on the tube and the pitcher was throwing the ball underhand.
* While on the subject of pitching, when is one of the bright young minds calling the shots from the dugout going to develop a staff wherein nine guys throw one inning apiece every game?
* Tourist Lance Ten Broeck finished 30 strokes behind Kemper Open winner Mark Brooks the other day, so why didn't CBS humiliate him like it did the driving range professional Jeff Wagner in unforgivable manner earlier?
* The team with the homecourt advantage in the NBA Finals has won 34 of 47 showdowns.
* Eddie Van Kirk's making a comeback in a six-rounder almost assures the All-Star Professional Boxing card at Martin's West tonight (7:30 p.m.) will be a solid show.
* The combined ERA of American League teams currently is 4.93. Time was when such a number would get a guy (or half a staff) shipped to the minors. The league ERA in 1968 was 3.04. What were they doing back then, throwing mothballs?
* Amazingly, during the Indiana Pacers' impressive run in the NBA playoffs, not a mention was made of the Indianapolis Olympians, a team that competed for four years (1949-1953), won a division one season and made the playoffs every year, once getting to the semifinals. We remember you, Alex Groza, Ralph Beard, Wah-Wah Jones and company.
* Word is that the contusions and abrasions rained upon the wispy body of Pacers star Reggie Miller in Game 7 Sunday night by the Knickerbockers are coming along nicely and he'll have full use of all his parts any day now. But, hey, the league got the Knicks into the final at long last, right?
* One of the things glossed over at the College Football Association convention in Texas last week was the athletic directors' failed attempt for a 12th regular-season game. Let's see, a team taking part in the Kickoff Classic, scheduling a road game against Hawaii and taking part in the SEC playoff and bowl game could end up with 16 games, same as the NFL.
* Instead of trying to pump up baseball and lacrosse programs that just sort of lay there and vegetate, why doesn't Mount St. Mary's (alias Decathlon University) stop the foolishness about trying to get rid of track and field, a sport that has brought it international as well as national notice?
* The Washington Bullets' announcement of ticket prices for next season, dated May 27, arrived in the office June 6. Things like that happen when you're bearing sad tidings (all the good seats went up a bunch) and you put about 10 cents worth of postage and order up ninth-class mail.
* Pretty much unnoticed was former Glenelg High distance running star John Scherer turning in the best U.S. time this year in the 10,000 meters (28:20.3), a personal best, at the recent Penn Relays. John, find a starting time other than 11 p.m. to run your great races.
* The NBA Finals will be on TV in 117 foreign markets, including Bophuthatswana, Guinea Bissau, Burkina Faso, Gabon, Kazakhstan, Republic of Palau, Sao Tome, St. Kitts, Turkmenistan and Essex.
Surprisingly, Bill Russell never won a playoff MVP award even though they started the award in 1969 when his Celtics team won the last two games to edge the Elgin Baylor-Jerry West-Wilt Chamberlain Lakers juggernaut, 4-3.
* It's a pretty good bet if the U.S. doesn't beat Switzerland in its opening World Cup game June 18 in Detroit it won't make the second round. A total of 16 teams (of 24 starters) advance out of the first round.
* You can believe that goody-two-shoes image Jim Courier seems to portray, but he led the French Open in fines ($2,500) with his swearing and obscene gestures on court.