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When Punts Rained From the Sky

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The tour could lower the number of wins required for Hall of Fame qualification, but there may be more appealing options. One might be to increase the value of major titles. Another might be to factor in Player of the Year selections and credit Vare Trophy winners, who finish the year with the tour's lowest scoring average. Touching other bases

* Say what you will about Michael Jordan, baseball player, but don't knock the guy's persistence. He not only surprised a lot of people by completing an entire season in the minors, now he's working overtime in the Arizona Fall League, learning to hit the breaking pitch and polishing other skills.

* Pop quiz: Which in-season women's sport compiles statistics for digs, blocks, and kills? (See answer below.)

* When asked by PBS talk-show host Charlie Rose for an opinion on the future of women in organized baseball, filmmaker Ken Burns of ``Baseball'' documentary fame forecast that a woman would make the majors in his lifetime. Furthermore, he predicted the pioneering female will be a pitcher with a good breaking ball. He'll get no argument here. It stands to reason that pitcher is a good entry position for women. To be effective, one doesn't have to be physically overpowering. A hurler with ``good stuff'' - an assortment of pitches delivered at varying speeds - can win games. And as many knuckleballers have shown, mastery of that slow but elusive pitch can be the ticket to a long and fruitful major-league career.

* The National Football League startled people last week when it announced the league might build a new stadium for Los Angeles in partnership with the city and state. A new facility might be necessary to keep a team in L.A., which is in danger of losing the Rams or the Raiders or both. Besides serving as a regular-season home field for someone, the stadium might be a frequent Super Bowl site. There's even talk of creating a theme park near the stadium.

* National Football League stars have been transformed, for the second year, into ``Monsters of the Gridiron.'' Twenty-eight pro players sat through long makeup sessions to take part in the Coca-Cola promotion, which posed them for collector cards available with selected products during the Halloween season. A personal favorite is New England Patriots tackle Bruce Armstrong, whose makeover as The Piledriver makes him look like a gladiatorial Tin Man.

* Quiz answer: Volleyball.

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