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Quote of the day

"We're much too good friends for me to believe that he'd ever do something wrong like that."

_ DONOVAN BAILEY

On fellow sprint champion Linford Christie, accused of testing positive for steroids

Question of the day

What was Sammy Sosa's average for home runs the five seasons before he hit 66 last year?

Answer

34.

Ask us

Q : It's 60 feet, 6 inches from the pitcher's mound to home plate. Why the extra 6 inches?

H.H. Brown, St. Petersburg

A: According to Dennis Bingham, chairman of the Umpires and Rules Committee for SABR (Society for American Baseball Research), the pitcher originally stood on a 12-foot-wide line 45 feet from home plate. In 1863 a back line 48 feet from the plate was added. In 1866 the lines were connected to create a box, and the pitcher could throw from anywhere within it. Over the years, the size of the box changed. In 1881 the box was moved back 5 feet to increase offense. The front line was now 50 feet from home. In 1887 the box was made 4 by 5{ feet. And a new rule required the pitcher to start his windup with a foot on the back line, 55{ feet from home. In 1893 the box was moved back 5 feet. That put the back line at 60{ feet, the current spot. Then the box was eliminated and the back line became a 12-inch-wide, 4-inch-deep slab of rubber. In 1895 the rubber was enlarged to today's 24 by 4 inches.

_ BRUCE LOWITT

No kicks out of this world

No skydiving, no skiing, no race car driving. Those sorts of clauses in sports contracts are nothing new.

Now comes word from the British Broadcasting Corp. that the English Premier League team Sunderland banned soccer player Stefan Schwarz from space travel. The BBC quoted team executive John Fickling on the prohibition of booking passage on a proposed commercial space flight.

"One of Schwarz's advisers has, indeed, got one of the places on the commercial flights (scheduled for 2002)," Fickling said. "And we were afraid that he may wish to take Stefan along with him."

_ LOS ANGELES TIMES

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