Look for the Bulls to draft an offensive lineman

BY JOE SANTORO

Sports fodder for a Friday morning . . .

It is time major league baseball uses some sort of instant replay. This week alone umpires robbed three hitters of home runs " Geovany Soto of the Cubs, Carlos Delgado of the Mets and Alex Rodriguez of the Yankees. We're not saying that instant replay cameras should totally replace umpires (though it's not an entirely bad idea). But judging whether a ball actually goes in the stands or hits a foul pole or lands to the left or right of a yellow line might be a good place to start. It is 2008. Every game is now on TV. It is OK to simply use the technology that is available.

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Willie Randolph is lucky he still has a job. But that didn't prevent the New York Mets manager (for now, at least) from suggesting this week that the media treats him differently because he is black. Randolph apologized for his remarks (sort of) but you would hope that the manager who presided over one of the biggest chokes in baseball history last September would stay away from calling the media a bunch of racists when criticisms come his way.

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Why, exactly, do the San Francisco Giants insist on trotting out a double play combination at second (Ray Durham) and short (Omar Vizquel) that is almost as old as a Republican Presidential candidate? When you are a go-nowhere organization like the Giants, you are better off winning 65 games with youngsters than 75 with washed up veterans. If you are going to play guys like Durham and Vizquel, why not let that old bald guy who can't find a job play left field a couple times a week?

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It appears likely that the Chicago Bulls will draft either Derrick Rose or Michael Beasley with the top pick in the NBA draft next month. Rose, a Chicago native, is the likely choice. The Bulls, after all, haven't had a true point guard since Norm Van Lier. But, remember, this is Chicago. Chicago teams have some sort of phobia against employing players who can actually run their offenses well. The Bears haven't had a true quarterback since Sid Luckman. Expect the Bulls to draft an offensive lineman.

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Darrell Rasner, right now, is the New York Yankees best starting pitcher. Phil Hughes and Ian Kennedy look like over-hyped Yankee busts, Mike Mussina's right arm is 1,000 years old, Chien-Ming Wang is hurt, Andy Pettite is searching for Brian McNamee's medicine cabinet, David Wells is up to 425 pounds and Roger Clemens is looking for a date. The Yankees should be falling all over themselves offering Rasner a three-year contract extension. But what are the Yankees' doing? They are falling all over themselves trying to convert Joba Chamberlain into a starter. Here's hoping Rasner isn't the one who gets shoved aside.

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College basketball isn't the only NCAA sport with Cinderella stories. College baseball has Columbia, a team that started out 0-8 and 4-14 but will find itself in the regionals next week after winning the Ivy League. It will be Columbia's first NCAA postseason in 32 year. Too bad the Wolf Pack can't join the Ivy League.

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In case you are wondering, the experienced and gritty Detroit Red Wings will likely beat the young and exciting Pittsburgh Penguins for the Stanley Cup. But it should be a fun series and the Penguins are going to win a Cup or two eventually if they keep Sidney Crosby, Jordan Staal, Evgeni Malkin and Marc Andre-Fleury around. The Pens might also pull off the upset this year if they can extend the series to seven games and wear down the old Wings.

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The last time Detroit and Pittsburgh met to decide a championship was the 1909 Pittsburgh Pirates- Detroit Tigers World Series. And, no, Chris Chelios didn't hit behind Ty Cobb in the Tigers lineup. But we're still looking into the rumor that Jim Leyland was a 9-year-old, chain-smoking Tigers fan who somehow snuck his way into the bleachers to heckle the Pirates' Honus Wagner.

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Big Brown is going to become the first horse since Affirmed in 1978 to win the Triple Crown. Then again, Big Brown could become the New England Patriots of the horseracing world and fail to make history. The Patriots, though, just couldn't overcome those obnoxious 1972 Miami Dolphins. It's not like Affirmed, Seattle Slew and Secretariat are going to tip a few hay bales in horse heaven if Big Brown falls short.

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The Miami Dolphins are upset with Jason Taylor for missing some workouts because he was off trying to win Dancing with the Stars. Taylor, who finished second in the competition to skater Kristi Yamaguchi, made the right decision. What would you rather do? Lift weights and sweat with a bunch of 350-pound offensive linemen or dance with a scantily-clad Edyta Sliwinska for two months?

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