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All right, it's quiz time, Baseball 101. True or false:
1) One big reason why Billy Martin has had such remarkable managerial success in reviving listless teams in Minnesota, Detroit, Texas, New York and now Oakland is his genius for inspiring young ballplayers.
2) Another reason for Martin's repeated success is his insistence on having a team that steals bases.
3) O.K., Nolan Ryan loses nearly as many games as he wins, but give him a lead in the late innings and he is incomparable, almost unbeatable.
4) And even though Ryan is paid an enormous salary, he more than earns it as a big gate attraction.
5) Montreal had better watch out for September. The Expos blew their chances of winning the NL East the last two seasons by cooling off in that month.
6) Any analyst who picked the champion Phillies to finish fifth last year ought to turn in his statistics.
There you have it. Easy quiz, isn't it? Every real fan within earshot of Joe Garagiola knows that all these statements are true, right?
Sorry. They're all false:
1) Of Billy Martin's teams, only Oakland and Texas could be called young. By the time of the All-Star break, his first Minnesota squad had only one non-pitching starter under the age of 27. His first Detroit team had only one under 28. His first Yankee team had two under 27, but one, age 26, was replaced by a 31-year-old the next year. The secret must lie elsewhere.