Sports

IF YOU DON'T BUILD IT, THEY STILL WILL SPEND

Mike Bloomberg may have thrown cold water on Rudy Giuliani's plan to build twin baseball stadiums, but that doesn't mean Mayor Mike won't spend money on not building them. Slipped into the mayor's announcement that "given the lack of housing, given the lack of school space, given the deficit in the operating budget, it is just not practical this year to go and build stadiums" was one little bombshell: Under a previously unrevealed part of Giuliani's deal with the Mets and Yankees, the city would give each team $5 million a year, for five years, for "design and planning costs"—and that part of the deal the new mayor planned to honor.

Although $50 million may not sound like much compared with the $1.6 billion stadium package Rudy was drooling over in December, it's still a healthy chunk of change—and an astounding amount for mere design work. (By comparison, actual construction of minor-league stadiums for the Newark Bears and Long Island Ducks cost just $45 million—combined.) To put it in terms the mayor can understand: $50 million could build about 500 units of new housing, or either two brand-new school buildings or six schools in renovated space, according to the Parent Organizing Consortium. "This is a man who says he wants to be known as the education mayor," says the POC's Ronn Jordan. "If Mayor Mike is so worried about Giuliani's good name, then let him take it out of his own pocket."

Incredibly, none of the local dailies saw fit to call attention to this latest attempted cash handout. The News, the Post, and Newsday mentioned the $50 million in passing in their articles on Bloomberg's nixing of the $1.6 billion, not even saying whether the expenditure would require City Council approval. (Answer: yes, according to council staffers.) And as for the Times, it ignored the mayor's $50 million commitment entirely, never mentioning it once in the course of a 600-word article. That day's headline in the Paper of Boston Red Sox Ownership: "Mayor Says There's No Money to Build 2 Baseball Stadiums." But there is, apparently, to build two really, really expensive models.


THE REAL SCORES

As every football gambler knows, each NFL game is actually two different games: the one played in the stadium and the one watched in Vegas. The standard NFL final standings have been widely reported. Below, we offer our own version of the season: the NFL final standings based on how each team did against the point spread. Doesn't it figure that the Giants were one of this year's worst bets?

(The standings are based on stats reported on Daily Racing Form's drf.com Web site. An asterisk indicates teams involved in a "pick 'em" point spread, explaining why totals equal 15 games, not 16.)

NFC East NFC Central NFC West
Philadelphia: 10-5-1
Arizona: 10-6
Washington: 8-7-1
Dallas: 8-8
New York Giants: 5-9-2
Chicago: 11-5
Detroit: 9-7
Green Bay: 9-7
Tampa Bay: 6-9-1
Minnesota: 6-10
St. Louis: 9-6-1
San Francisco: 9-7
New Orleans: 7-8*
Atlanta: 6-7-3
Carolina: 6-9-1
AFC East AFC Central AFC West
New England: 10-5*
Miami: 10-5-1
New York Jets: 8-8
Indianapolis: 6-10
Buffalo: 5-10-1
Pittsburgh: 11-4-1
Baltimore: 8-7-1
Cleveland: 8-7-1
Cincinnati: 8-8
Jacksonville: 7-8-1
Tennessee: 5-10-1
Kansas City: 7-7-2
Oakland: 7-8-1
Denver: 7-9
Seattle: 5-9-2
San Diego: 4-10-2


FAKE IT TILL YOU MAKE IT

Former world champion pro wrestler Bruno Sammartino wasn't that much of an actor in the ring. In packed stadiums, Sammartino wrestled hurt—once even with a broken neck. His matches in the '60s and '70s were often grueling, no-frills, marathon slugfests. "It wasn't like what you see out there today," says the 66-year-old Sammartino from his home in Pittsburgh. "We did not have naked women or giving the audience the finger or guys guzzling beer. If you were on television and you said something inappropriate, you would be off the air." Now the retired grappler is going back on the air. In recent months, Sammartino read for a part on The Sopranos after a few of the show's cast members spotted him at Mary Lou's in the East Village. Last fall, he played a mobbed-up bar owner dying of cancer in John A. Russo's flick Saloonatics (soon to be released). At first, Sammartino was uncomfortable with his character's profanity-laden dialogue. "Bruno is old-school," explains his New York City-based costar, Debbie Rochon. "He does not curse in front of a lady—movie or no movie." By the end of the day, though, Sammartino was reciting his lines faithfully, says Russo. Meanwhile, there's talk of doing a movie about Sammartino's life, but he says he's content to sit home with his family. "I traveled for 25 years," he explains. "I'm not waiting on pins and needles."


Contributors: Neil DeMause, Brian Parks, Jon Hart Sports Editor: Ward Harkavy

 
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