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SOSA'S APPROACH DOWN THE STRETCH SHOWED HE'S ALL HEART

A look behind the headlines:

Sosa Loses Homer Race to McGwire: Are you kidding me? How can anyone who hits 66 homers, leads the National League in RBIs and is the driving force for the Chicago Cubs' playoff berth be anything but a winner?

What McGwire did for himself and baseball is a good thing, but what Sosa did for baseball and the Cubs is even better. The Cubs are playing in October; can Big Mac and the St. Louis Cardinals say the same?

It's also fair to say McGwire would have never made it to his final figure if Sosa hadn't pushed him every step of the way. Remember it was Sosa who pushed the lead to 66 before McGwire went on a tear and hit five homers in his last 10 at-bats. With nothing on the line for St. Louis or Montreal, one might suspect McGwire got a couple of fat ones served up in that season-ending series with the Expos.

No crime there, but Sosa put his home run swing away down the stretch, opting instead to deliver the key hits that kept the Cubs alive until they finally put the San Francisco Giants away Monday night. Sosa saved his best for that game, going 2 for 4 and scoring a pair of runs. In a sport built on individual numbers, Sosa put his team first, his stats second.

Only a winner would do that.

Montreal Expos on the Brink of Bolting: Who cares, you say? I do. I've always considered Montreal the Buffalo team that got away. Remember the Expos started life as the expansion franchise the Buffalo group -- spearheaded by Robert O. Swados, the Knox family and local interests -- thought they had in their back pocket some three decades ago. It's also the franchise Robert Rich Jr. was once interested in moving here. Now it appears ticketed to Charlotte or some other burgeoning U.S. market.

Baseball is failing in Montreal because the government there appears unwilling to help build a new stadium. This is the same economic policy that helped kill two Canadian hockey franchises, the Quebec Nordiques and the Winnipeg Jets.

I detest the gun-to-the-head approach most pro sports take regarding the use of tax dollars and venues for private businesses, especially when that hands the keys to a stadium to an owner who declines to even make a long-term commitment. But in case you're inclined to call the bluff, just take a look north. The Nordiques and Jets were two of the best-supported franchises in hockey, but their buildings didn't measure up to the revenue-producing giants of today. The Expos' problems, which include mismanagement and a chronically underfunded ownership group, are more complex, but the results are the same. In smaller markets, if you don't have government support, you don't have a team.

Economic terrorism? Certainly. But the reality is being driven home every day. It just happens to be Montreal's turn.

Adams Seeks Psychics in Nashville: I swear this is true.

Houston/Nashville/Tennessee Oilers/team-to-be-named-shortly owner Bud Adams has set forth the rules to name the NFL team and they go like this:

Pick the name of the team. If your choice matches the one in Adams' head, you win a prize.

Really, this is true. Adams, bowing to fan pressure in Nashville, has decided he will give in and re-nickname the Oilers, but instead of letting the fans pick the name he'll do it and then allow them to guess.

Who's advising this guy? Robert Irsay? Adams not only ran out on Houston, he asked for (and received) a $292 million stadium, seat licenses and outrageous ticket prices from the folks in Nashville. In return he offers them a chance to read his mind.

What's the grand prize, a weekend with Adams and Art Modell in Cleveland? Two tickets to the next Oilers game in Los Angeles? A scrap of Astroturf from the Astrodome?

Here's hoping he's settled on "Bud" as the team name, as in "Hey, Nashville, This Bud's for You."

Who else would want him?

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