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Seaver changes Sox; World Cup soccer ties; NFL in London

Tom Seaver's first game in a Boston Red Sox uniform was an eventful and fruitful occasion, eventful because it commenced what is expected to be the final chapter in Seaver's glorious major league saga, and fruitful, because the 20-year pitching veteran picked up his first victory since April 23. This latter fact suggests that Tom Terrific, a 307-game winner who is now 3-6 in 1986, isn't so terrific anymore. But he didn't have to be in beating the Toronto Blue Jays Tuesday night, 9-7, shortly after arriving in a trade that sent reserve outfielder Steve Lyons to the Chicago White Sox. ``He may not be the same as he was,'' said Boston manager John McNamara, ``but he's still a surgeon at his craft. He kept us in the game. That's exactly what we're looking for.''

Seaver utilizes the same trademark delivery -- his right knee brushing the mound -- he first made famous playing for the world champion Mets of 1969, and later during stops with the Cincinnati Reds, the Mets again, and the White Sox. Now, however, he is the cerebral vet who relies on his smarts more than an overpowering repertoire.

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Seaver had requested a trade to either Boston or a New York team so that he could be closer to his family, which lives in Greenwich, Conn. The Mets hardly need pitching help and the Yankees weren't particularly interested. The Red Sox, however, wanted to solidify a talented, young pitching staff that has seen its ranks thinned by injuries on several occasions.

Seaver hardly fills the role of a ``stopper'' at this point, but what he does provide in generous amounts is leadership, and the intangibles associated with it. Designated hitter Don Baylor has given the Red Sox a big boost in this area, and now Seaver, 41, is counted on to supply whatever else might be needed to guide Boston to its first pennant since 1975. Soccer's senseless shoot-outs

Looking ahead to the 1990 World Cup tournament in Italy, soccer's governing body may well have to find an alternative means of breaking tie games.

The use of penalty-kick shoot-outs after 30-minute overtime periods, as happened in three quarterfinal games in this year's tournament, basically erased 120 minutes of legitimate game action. As one observer has pointed out, the current procedure is akin to deciding a National Basketball Association playoff game on free throws after time has expired. Paul Gardner, a commentator on NBC's World Cup telecasts, has suggested using the number of corner kicks to determine the winner, since these kicks generally indicate which team was forcing the action. NFL goes abroad

American pro football travels to merrie olde England this summer for a game that should fascinate sports buffs on both sides of the ``pond.'' In response to the growing British interest in its product, the National Football League has scheduled a preseason game between the Chicago Bears and the Dallas Cowboys in London's Wembley Stadium on Aug. 3.

The game, which is being called American Bowl '86, is nearly sold out. Tickets range in price from $7.50 to $30, with the 80,000 capacity divided almost equally between end zone standees and seated ticket holders.

Since the game will be televised live back to the States by NBC (1 p.m. EDT), Americans will have the opportunity to see how the English react to a game that has long mystified overseas observers.

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An estimated 12 million British viewers watched last January's Super Bowl, and a weekly NFL highlights show has quadrupled its United Kingdom audience to about 4 million people in the past four years.

The American Bowl doesn't mark the first attempt to export NFL action. Three other preseason games have been played outside the United States, with attendance ranging between 30,000 and 38,000 for contests in London (1983), Mexico City ('78), and Tokyo ('76). Touching other bases

According to the Women's Tennis Association media guide, Gabriela Sabatini is rated the most popular person in Argentina after its president. If the same poll were taken today, both might have to take a back seat to Diego Maradona, the star of Argentina's World Cup soccer triumph. Gaby, on the other hand, could pick up a lot of votes if she pulls off a major upset in today's Wimbledon semifinals, when she meets four-time defending champion Martina Navratilova.

The 16-year-old from Buenos Aires is the tournament's youngest semifinalist of this century, and certainly the most promising player from her country since Guillermo Vilas. She was named the ``Most Impressive Newcomer'' of last year's women's tour, and although she hasn't won any major titles, it seems inevitable she will if she continues to improve. Some observers believe Gabriela and West Germany's Steffi Graf will form the sport's next great female rivalry. (Graf had to skip Wimbledon this time.)

Before East Germany's female swimmers came to power at the 1976 Montreal Olympics, American women were the pacesetters. When the East Germans elected to boycott the '84 Olympics, the US contingent temporarily regained the spotlight, but not any world records. In fact, until last week no American woman had broken a swimming world record since 1981, when Mary Meagher set marks in the 100- and 200-meter butterfly. Betsy Mitchell broke the drought, though, when she lowered the 200-meter backstroke record from 2:09.91 to 2:08.60 in Orlando, Fla., at the trials used to select a team for the world championships. Mitchell, of Marietta, Ohio, was the '84 Olympic silver medalist in the 100-meter back.

For anyone using national championships as a yardstick, Stanford University may be best sports school in the nation. No other major college can match its four NCAA team titles during the 1985-86 academic year. Stanford was No. 1 in men's and women's tennis, water polo, and men's swimming. Texas had the next best record, thanks to a group of talented coeds who won team crowns in basketball, swimming, and outdoor track. The only other schools to claim at least two national titles were Wisconsin (men's and women's cross-country) and Utah (women's gymnastics and combined men's and women's skiing).

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