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For Dumars, one face was missing

Louisiana, too: Detroit Pistons guard Joe Dumars was startled at seeing Steel Magnolias, a dandy movie filmed in Natchitoches, La. "That's my hometown," Dumars said, "and I couldn't believe I was seeing such familiar territory and so many friends. Except for the stars, I knew just about everybody in the movie; especially all the black guys. My only question is, why didn't they ask me?" Got a light? Good thing St. Pete's domed stadium is dealing with its problems of contaminated earth. New Dream Island, an 18-hole Tokyo Bay golf course built on reclaimed land, is suffering such oozings of methane gas that fears of explosions have caused a smoking ban.

Whatever happened to Lynn Dickey?

Transactions: Maybe you've noticed a few lineup changes in Times sports. Gary Shelton came from the Miami Herald to cover the NFL, Rick Stroud is taking over the Bucs beat and John Romano will cover the University of Florida. Michelle Kaufman, after two seasons of covering Tampa Bay's NFL team, has moved to the Detroit Free Press as a feature writer.

Fat chance: Chicago Bears coach Mike Ditka says defensive lineman William "Fridge" Perry must get down to 300 pounds or he'll not be issued a uniform for next season. His 1989 tonnage was an estimated 345.

Proof: The exclusion of Karl Malone from the NBA All-Star Game starting lineup simply reaffirms a belief that you should never, never, never, never allow the public to pick such things. It's phony, it's biased and it's unfair. What chance does a player from Utah have against one from New York or Los Angeles? Same goes for those silly 1-800 polls, which only the zealots are prone to phone.

Poof: It's been a quiet, sad death for St. Petersburg's long-running Ladies Professional Golf Association tournament. Because no "title sponsor" could be contracted, and tour commissioner Bill Blue failed to deliver on his "We'll get you one" promise, the plug was pulled on the Grand Dame of the LPGA. Somewhere, a monument should be left.

Any debate? As we enter the 1990s, baseball's truly great hitters are Tony Gwynn, Kirby Puckett, Wade Boggs, Will Clark and Don Mattingly. If a guy's not odds-on to bat .325-plus, he's not a great hitter. George Brett only recently faded from such status.

Most valuable: Joe Montana will get $600,000 to collaborate with ghost writer Alan Steinberg on a book for Random House, the largest advance ever for a football biography. Nonetheless, with all-pro humility, the San Francisco 49ers quarterback says, "A lot of people do a lot more important things than we do. But people put you on a pedestal."

Almost 49er: Pete Rose will drop by the Kids-Kubs softball game Tuesday. Two months shy of 49, the drydocked Cincinnati Reds baseballer is 25 years from being eligible to play with these real seniors, the gang down at St. Pete's North Shore Park. Pete should be there between 11:30 a.m. and noon.

Mystery? Steroids are No. 1 on NFL commissioner Paul Tagliabue's hit list, so it should be regarded as a voice of progress when Green Bay Packers front-office chief Tom Braatz says, "The strength of offensive linemen is nothing compared to the recent past."

Can't quit losing: After Denver lost another Super Bowl, defensive coordinator Wade Phillips' sister was robbed of $300 by a New Orleans mugger and quarterback John Elway's garment bag disappeared on the team flight home.

Ace? Joker? Who but PGA Tour mad genius Mac O'Grady would say, "A hole-in-one is amazing, when you think of the different universes this white mass of molecules has to pass through on its way to the cup."

Rated R, for ridiculous: Sports Illustrated, the former sports magazine, is out with its annual peep show. But, sadly, more than the women who're pictured in the swimsuit issue, it is SI's editors who really show their well, you know.

Moon waxing: Warren Moon told NFL friends last season, "We'll never win as long as Jerry Glanville is coaching the Oilers." With the Man in Black being fired, and then woofed up by the Atlanta Falcons, the Houston quarterback says, "At first, his black-hat image gave us identity, which we needed. But we carried it too far, and led the league in penalties. It wound up killing us."

Whatever happened to Keith Smart?

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