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Those who can’t, coach

Say this for Raptors coach Darrell Walker: he’s honest.

When asked about Damon Stoudamire’s 39 percent shooting, Walker noted: “A lot of shots Damon takes are when our low-post game breaks down. There’s nothing technically wrong with Damon’s shot. And even if there was, what could I do about it? I couldn’t shoot when I played.”

And as we know, there is no sanity clause

We’ll try to keep you updated on the growing number of incredibly stupid incentive clauses being written into baseball contracts this year. An early sampling:

- At least 33 players have incentive clauses providing for a bonus if they’re named the Most Valuable Player in a Division Series. That’s great, except for one thing: MVP awards are not given for the Division Series. Players and agents were advised of this, said A.L. vice president Phyllis Merhige. “But I guess they asked for it anyway just in case the award is instituted.”

- Because of his role, Marlins closer Robb Nen rarely bats - in fact, he’s hitless in nine career plate appearances. Nonetheless, his contract includes a provision that would pay him $25,000 if he wins a Silver Slugger Award from The Sporting News.

- You remember Kent Mercker, the left-handed pitcher who gave up almost a run per inning with the Orioles last year? A $4.5 million option in his 1998 contract will go into effect if and only if he wins the N.L. Cy Young Award.

- The contracts for Indians outfielder Kevin Mitchell and White Sox pitcher Jaime Navarro have incentives whereby the players receive $10,000 every time they win Player of the Week or Player of the Month awards. And who is responsible for nominating players for these awards? The teams. Can’t you imagine the scenario: “Jeez, Kevin, we know you hit .800 with 10 homers last week, but darn the luck, we forgot to submit your name.”

- Paul Wagner’s contract provides for a $50,000 payoff if he wins the Comeback Player of the Year Award. The Pirates pitcher is 26-40 lifetime, and his best year was 1993, when he went 8-8 with a 4.27 ERA.

Doesn’t the comeback player of the year have to have been a good player once before?

And this after watching the ice freeze

St. Louis Blues defenseman Al MacInnis, a native of Inverness, Nova Scotia, said it wasn’t difficult to develop a good enough shot to win the hardest shot competition at the NHL All-Star game.

“Guys from small towns have to do something to kill time,” he said.

Lucky 13

Ladbrokes bookmakers are waiting to hear from a bettor who won $448,800 on a $16 bet by correctly predicting the results of 13 English soccer games.

“We’ve had no phone calls, no contact. He might not even know he’s won,” Ladbrokes spokesman Ed Nicholson said. “We’ve no idea who he is but we’re hoping he’ll come in. We believe that this is a world record for this particular type of bet.”

The mystery bettor correctly forecast who would win 12 games on a Saturday and had to wait for the 13th on Monday, when Raith Rovers played Airdrie in the Scottish Cup. Raith trailed 1-0 at halftime but scored four times in the second half.

The last word …

“We can’t get on Nickelodeon.”

- Cavs forward Tyrone Hill, on his team’s poor TV exposure

, DataTimes ILLUSTRATION: Photo



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