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Highs and lows

By BRUCE LOWITT, ANTHONY PEREZ and JAMAL THALJI

© St. Petersburg Times, published October 29, 2000


Highs

DEVIL RAYS: They gave lifelong baseball fan Paula Kunkle, 40, and her brother Russ tickets to Game 5 of the World Series (transportation, food and lodging included) as thanks for her being a community role model. She is a graduate of St. Petersburg Junior College, where she majored in human services and won membership in the Phi Theta Kappa honor society. She was born with cerebral palsy. We point out the Rays errors; they deserve high-fives for this sparkling play.

2000 PARALYMPICS: The media spotlight no longer shines on Sydney, but the spirit of athletic competition did not leave with the Olympics. The Paralympics has proven in its own way to be competitive, intense, dramatic and controversial. Drug testing. Protests. Appeals. And a zeal to win. This is no feel-good story. This is an athletic competition no less intense than any Olympiad.

JOE TORRE: Remember when the Yankees stumbled into and out of Tropicana Field in the throes of losing 15 of their final 18 during the season? Their eloquent, understated manager kept a steady hand on the rudder and righted the ship. The result: a third consecutive World Series championship and fourth in five years, seemingly an impossibility in this era of free agency.

JETS: Love 'em or hate 'em, their monster comeback against the Dolphins on Monday night (uh, Tuesday morning) was one for the ages ... at least the ages who could stay up 'til 1:20 a.m.

Lows

DOLPHINS: Mr. Knight and Mr. Sprewell, please meet the newest members of Chokers R Us.

CHARLES RELIFORD: Okay, we know Roger Clemens can lose control, not that it gets him off the hook for throwing the jagged barrel of a broken bat toward Mike Piazza. But if Reliford, the home plate umpire, had his wits about him (and maybe some guts, too), the slightly unstable pitcher would have been gone before the bat stopped rolling. Clemens' $50,000 fine is chump change for a guy with a $6.35-million salary (the equivalent of a $195 fine to someone making $25,000).

TIM McCARVER: Oh, be quiet. Your baseball expertise is unquestioned, but your theories are questionable -- and annoying when you start harping on why the managers have other ideas.

CELEBRITIES: What is it about famous people that they feel the need to seek out famous sporting venues from which to try to impress us with their fame? The World Series. Monday Night Football. Yadda, yadda, yadda. What's more annoying, the strategically placed celeb, there to promote the network's mediocre programming, or the broadcast-booth visit from the ill-informed, faux-celebrity fan?

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