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BUT, HEY, ENOUGH ABOUT THAT If you're ever introduced to Michael Morel at a party, do not ask for his thoughts on life. Not unless you want him to talk your ear off, that is. The retired New Zealand carpenter extemporized on the subject for 25 hours last weekend - with brief breaks every four hours - in a bid to get himself listed in the Guinness Book of World Records for a nonstop lecture on a single subject. On and on he droned as cameras videotaped every syllable for verification purposes. Not surprisingly, the target at which he was aiming, 24 hours and 19 minutes, belongs to a politician: US Sen. Strom Thurmond (R) of South Carolina.


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Speaking of politicians, the Hawaiian Senate late last week approved legislation that would designate the hula as the state's official dance. The House of Representatives passed a similar measure earlier in the current session. Gov. Ben Cayetano (D) is expected to sign the bill into law.

Baseball salaries up 19.3%; Yankees' payroll still biggest

The average Major League Baseball salary is up 19.3 percent this year - to $1.7 million - over 1998, according to an Associated Press study. The increase is the largest in seven seasons and coincides with an average rise of 10 percent in ticket prices. The data show the world champion New York Yankees with the sport's highest payroll, $85.1 million - an average of $3.04 million per player. Figures include salaries and prorated shares of signing bonuses; in some cases parts of salaries deferred without interest are discounted to reflect present-day values. The 10 teams with the highest payrolls on their opening-day rosters (in millions):

Team Payroll

1. New York Yankees $85.1

2. Los Angeles Dodgers 79.2

3. Baltimore Orioles 78.5

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4. Texas Rangers 74.9

5. Atlanta Braves 73.5

6. Cleveland Indians 68.9

7. Arizona Diamondbacks 65.9

8. New York Mets 63.5

9. Boston Red Sox 60.8

10. Chicago Cubs 60.2

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