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People actually expressed surprise that George Foreman once again proved an overstuffed punching bag but still was awarded a razor-thin decision over German challenger Axel Schulz Saturday night in Las Vegas. Hey, Big George is an HBO fighter, the bout was on HBO and, well, what would boxing be without the beloved one?
* Yesterday marked the 41st anniversary of the adoption of the 24-second clock in the NBA and shudder to think what the pro game would look like without it. The league arrived at 24 seconds as the ideal time on the advice of Syracuse Nationals owner Danny Biasone, who sat in his bowling alley and, via film of games, determined this was the average time it took teams to heave the ball at the hoop.
* Somehow, Las Vegas has Orlando as one of three second choices for the NBA championship at 5-1 behind San Antonio's odds of 4-1. But a closer look at the Magic's road record might be in order about now. When it lost to the Bullets at USAir Arena last week, it constituted Orlando's sixth straight road loss, including five against teams with sub-.500 records. Only two teams have won NBA titles with losing road records and the 1978 Bullets are one of them.
Speaking of quixotic records, the only thing that could possible explain the Montreal Canadiens being 15-3-3 at home and 3-17-2 on the road is abject terror toward fan reaction following losses in the Forum.
* Next Saturday's "Beltway Brawl" at USAir Arena, Vincent Pettway defending his International Boxing Federation 154-pound title against Simon Brown in a Baltimore vs. Washington showdown, doesn't lack for a strong undercard. Bernard Hopkins and Segundo Mercado, who staged one of the classic bouts of 1994, meet for the IBF middleweight crown and Darryl Tyson defends his U.S. Boxing Association lightweight title against former world titlist Freddy Pendleton.
* Just when you think the Washington Capitals are going to sail off the end of the earth and miss the NHL playoffs for the first time since 1983 by losing five of six games and making things tough on themselves, they hammer pesky Hartford and come a minute from shutting out Pittsburgh in its building. The Caps looked to have sixth place cinched and can do mighty damage to the hopes of the defending champion New York Rangers making it back to postseason play with a victory in Madison Square Garden tonight. Wouldn't that be sweet?
* It was on this day in 1901 that the first American League game ever was played, Chicago beating Cleveland, 8-2, at home. Chicago won the pennant behind pitcher-manager Clark Griffith, who went 24-7 and chipped in with a .303 batting average. The fifth-place Orioles were loaded with Joe McGinnity (26-20), John McGraw (.349) and Mike Donlin (.347), but depth must have been a big problem.
* The Kemper Open is probably lighting votive candles in hopes of retaining its spot on the PGA Tour right in front of the U.S. Open. Joining Nick Price, Jose Maria Olazabal, Greg Norman, Lee Janzen and Seve Ballesteros at Avenel in Potomac June 5-11 are Scott Hoch, Bill Glasson, Tom Lehman, Scott Simpson and Brad Bryant, all of whom won tournaments and set personal bests for money winnings in 1994.
* The Tour DuPont race certainly won't want for cycling talent in the broadcast booth, ESPN lining up Greg LeMond and Davis Phinney to expert alongside stage-by-stage announcer Phil Liggett. A preview show Wednesday (5:30-6 p.m.) starts things off, then ESPN will devote a half-hour race progress show daily until the conclusion May 7. The race begins in Wilmington, Del., and ends in Greensboro, N.C., skipping Maryland altogether.
* Just a quick perusal of the fourth edition of "Total Baseball" and you realize why it has won designation from the game as "the Official Encyclopedia of Major League Baseball." There's extremely interesting articles to go along with the usual deluge of numbers, one being an attempt to pick the 100 greatest players of all time. Fans, start your arguments. The Orioles place five: Frank and Brooks Robinson, Jim Palmer, Luis Aparicio and Cal Ripken.
* Just 20 of the 89 women competing on the 15-stop Coors Light Beach Volleyball Tour are non-Californians and all but one of their tourneys will be on TV, including four on CBS live. . . . A gent named Abdelkader El Mouaziz of Morocco ran a 2:14:45 marathon over the weekend. Good time, huh? It barely landed him 10th place in the Rotterdam Marathon. . . . The state had just one placement at the indoor championships of the U.S. Archery Association, but it was the right one, Carol Pelosi of Greenbelt winning the crossbow event for senior ladies.
* A prime example of someone making chicken salad out of a sow's ear was turned in by ESPN over the weekend, the Berman-Theismann-Kiper juggernaut turning a basically what's-the-big-deal NFL draft into an informative and entertaining show.
* It's unfortunate the large and appreciative crowd at the NCAA Women's Southeast Regional Gymnastics Championships two weeks ago at Towson State didn't get a chance to see two-time collegiate all-around champ Jenny Hansen at her best. The junior finished second here, but picked up her third straight individual title at the NCAA final with a brilliant 39.8 score (out of 40), with a perfect 10 on the balance beam, a 9.975 vault, a 9.875 bar and 9.950 floor exercise.