Keeping Up With the Joneses
With the Mets opening spring training last week, and there being no sign of debilitating confusion as a result of same-named teammates on the roster, Jockbeat sees no reason why the team shouldn't continue to stockpile Bobby Joneses. And why restrict itself to the realm of baseball? With all this in mind, here's a list of players GM Steve Phillips might want to pursue:
St. John's Not So Divine
Talk about déjà vu all over again. The city's plan to park the Mets' new single-A farm club at St. John's University for the next two years has started off the same way as its previous ballpark proposal for Brooklyn's Parade Grounds: with a protest march and threats of lawsuits. After a community meeting last Thursday, at which local elected officials tore into the plan, about 200 residents from Flushing Heights, Fresh Meadows, Hillcrest Estates, and Jamaica Estates marched down Union Turnpike to condemn the Economic Development Corporation (EDC) plan to build a 3500-seat, $5.5 million stadium on the St. John's campus at public expense.
The area's 7500 homeowners are "livid," says Barry Weinberg, chair of the Jamaica Estates Association. "This is a residential area. This is not where you go and build a ballpark." Since the St. John's site is private property, and thus not subject to the public land-use oversight process, the homeowner groups are filing a suit charging EDC with violating local zoning laws; the ballpark's outfield wall would face the residential-zoned neighborhood of Jamaica Estates directly across Utopia Parkway.
Whatever the outcome, the team will have to play somewhere starting this June, and it won't be its current home of St. Catharine's, Ontario, in the wine country west of Niagara Falls. The deal to sell the erstwhile St. Catharine's Stompers (until now, a Toronto Blue Jays farm club; mascot: the Grape Crusader, a humongous grape with purple-stained feet) to the Mets should close in the next few days, says Stompers president and part-owner Greg Sorbara, who adds that the sale is "not subject to approval of their new facilitythat's not a condition." As to what happens if the Mets end up stuck with a team and no site, he speculates, "I guess Shea Stadium is the contingency plan."
Stock Price Smackdown
World Wrestling Federation stock (WWFE) has been pinned in the $11 range of lateit closed at $11.63 at the Voice's deadlinenarrowly above its lowest level since the WWF IPO in mid October. This, of course, came shortly after Newsweek called WWF Chairman Vince McMahon a "mastermind" and his company "a louder, raunchier version of the Disney kingdom" in its February 7 cover story. The article, which highlights the profitability of the WWF, waits 2000 words before mentioning that its "stock price has lagged lately," pointing to a recent advertising mess and an injury to Stone Cold Steve Austin as causes.
The latest tumble came after, as was reported here, McMahon announced plans for the Extreme Football League (XFL). Jockbeat's scoop of the month award goes to Newsweek's John Leland and the magazine's editorial staff for its cover story subhead: "It may look like a cartoon spectacle, but the WWF is serious business. And business is good." Eleven bucks a share, John, ain't so good. It was $34 just a few months ago.
Contributors: Paul Lukas, Neil Demause, Howard Z. Unger, Ramona Debs, Karl-Eric Reif Sports Editor: Miles D. Seligman
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