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AROUND THE HORN

That Johnny Damon; what a card!

Well, this seems odd. There's already a Topps baseball card of Johnny Damon in

action, wearing a Yankees road uniform. And he still hasn't put one on - and

probably won't even do so until the Yankees play their first spring training

road game in March.

"Not bad, huh?" said Topps spokesman Clay Luraschi. "We have a team of

retouchers and they come in very handy during the offseason when we can't get

action shots of guys in their new uniforms."

Retouching baseball cards to put a player in his new uniform is nothing

new. The company has been doing it since 1952 and has artists working 24/7.

"For the Damon card, it was very important we got him in his Yankee uniform

early, because we know a lot of Yankee fans would be looking for his first

Yankee card," Luraschi said.

Ah, but no pinstripes. "Yes, the Yankees road uniform is easier to do."

- Norm Cohen

There's nothing more to say than Oy Vey!

What's a nice Catholic girl doing on a card like this?

Jewish Major Leaguers, Inc., a Boston-based baseball card company that

serves a fervent segment of fans, has featured players from Al Levine to Shawn

Green since 2003.

But this time around, they were in the wrong clubhouse.

Margaret Wigiser, an outfielder in the All-American Girls Professional

Baseball League during the 1940s, was given her own card in the company's 2006

edition. But that probably came as a surprise to some: Wigiser is Catholic.

"I was a little embarrassed," JML, Inc. president Martin Abramowitz said.

"We pulled the card and made an error card. It's the first card in the history

of baseball cards that comments on an error."

Abramowitz, 66, came up with the idea in the summer of 1999 when he saw his

son, Jacob, thumbing through trading cards and noticed the lack of Jewish

players in the pack. Said Abramowitz, "[Jacob] said to me: 'Dad, make your own

cards.'"

- Joe Fernandez

Odds are someone else will make money off Tocchet's gambling

Rick Tocchet surely knows by now the seriousness of the situation he is in, but

just to bring the point home, here it is in language that he really can

understand: The odds are only 5-1 that he will be found innocent of helping to

run an illegal gambling operation.

That's what an online sports book and gaming site is saying about the

Phoenix Coyotes assistant coach, whose alleged involvement in the betting ring

dragged Wayne Gretzky's name though the mud. Even though Gretzky has been

cleared of any wrongdoing - according to his lawyer - a release from BetUS.com

said, "Any way you look at it, things aren't good for Rick Tocchet."

Here's the BetUS.com way of looking at it: The line is 1-6 (meaning that

the chances are five out of six) that Tocchet will be convicted and receive

probation. Odds on Tocchet being convicted and getting jail time are 1-4. The

line on a not guilty verdict is 5-1; on a mistrial it's 2-1. The possibility of

a suspended trial is even money.

"People are taking an interest in this case," said Matthew Ross, the

company spokesman. He added that the site takes bets on such issues as the

gender of Christina Aguilera's baby and which day of the week Fidel Castro will

die.

The Tocchet odds also are perhaps a way to tweak a neophyte competitor. A

release from the company said, "Once he is free of charges, he can always have

a job here with us at BetUS as a sports analyst since his days of coaching are

over."

Either way, it is just another illustration of something that is at the

root of the whole Tocchet story: People are likely to bet on anything.

- Mark Herrmann

New York Sports