An owner threatening to leave town unless he gets a new stadium. A controversial referendum on the same topic. A bonanza in ticket sales all season long and an electrifying run through the playoffs culminating in a World Series appearance. Sound familiar? It does to Padres fans, who’ve watched majority owner John Moores cajole and threaten his way to a November 3 referendum on a $411 million replacement for Qualcomm Stadium. The Yanks may hold the edge in this year’s Fall Classic, but San Diego’s way ahead in the high-stakes, new-stadium referendum war.
While New Yorkers wait as the proposed vote on keeping the Yanks in the Bronx twists through the appellate court system, San Diegans will go to the polls next month on Proposition C—a ballot question heavily pushed by the Padres and the city that would authorize hundreds of millions in public money for a new stadium.
“It’s neck and neck,” says Chris Michaels, cochair of the opposition Strike Three on Proposition C. “Every vote is going to count.” With that in mind the Padres have left nothing to chance, giving the Yes campaign nearly $1 million in cash and in-kind contributions, including a prominently placed “Yes On C” bill board on Qualcomm’s outfield wall. “I think three or four home runs have gone right over that spot,” Scott Maloni, the campaign’s press secretary, offers happily. “It’s been amazing.”
It’s not quite so amazing, of course, if you’re being outspent by 708 to 1 and your city is caught up in Padre fever. “People are reluctant to put ‘No on C’ stickers on their cars for fear of people thinking they’re against the Padres, or un-American,” says Michaels. “It makes our job that much more daunting—to get people to try and separate the two issues.”
That’s not hard to do in the Big Apple, according to Michael Clendenin, a spokesperson for Democratic gubernatorial candidate Peter Vallone. “The entire city is pulling for the Yankees to win the World Series,” he tells Jockbeat. “And the entire city is also pulling to keep them in Yankee Stadium, in the Bronx, where they belong.”
Jockbeat believes that the issue for both cities is best summed up by the San Diego opposition bumper stickers. “Stadium?” they ask. “Thanks. Got One.”
He’s not the star of this movie of the week—his immediate relatives are all healthy and pretty much happy with the organs they’ve got—but Joe Torre deserves major props this Yankee postseason.
While we chalked up his 1996 title to good karma, this time around it seems he’s actually outthinking the opposition. His jug gling of the roster has been brilliant. Shane Spencer was a mensch against Texas, while Ricky Ledee’s full-count 2-RBI double against Kevin Brown in the first game of the Classic was every bit as important as the Knoblauch or Martinez homers.
Torre proved that unconditional loyalty is for the dogs (sorry, Andy Pettitte) and gave El Duque the ball in Game Two. Most impressive has been his handling of the bullpen. He’s been quick on the hook with Mike Stanton and Jeff Nelson, and got a brilliant stint from Ramiro Mendoza in the Cleveland clincher. And Torre has been positively postmodern in his use of closer Mariano Rivera. Four of his eight appearances have been in nonsave situations, and Torre has had no qualms about bringing him in before the ninth inning if the game’s on the line. The results of this new school/old school strategy: Mo boasts a pitching line—10.1 innings, no runs, nine strikeouts, one ground-ball hit—that would make David Wells jealous.
By comparison, Padre skipper Bruce Bochy’s insistence on saving Trevor Hoffman only for the ninth almost cost him the Atlanta series, and may have cost him Game One. Bottom line: it’s easy enough to win one World Series—Joe Altobelli has as many rings as Billy Martin—but winning a second, that’s no fluke, and Torre seems well on his way.
Those shameless self-promoters at Fox…not only did they waste time with a shot of Calista Flockhart at Yankee Stadium, they went out of their way to show the network’s überwaif while she was eating…. Found in David Wells’s locker after Game Two of the World Series: AC/DC’s Highway to Hell; a copy of Outdoor Life magazine; a copy of Not Fade Away: The Rock & Roll Photography of Jim Marshall; a framed picture of Babe Ruth; a Metallica poster; a Louis Vuitton bag filled with baseballs; a 33-ounce bat loaded with pine tar; a bottle of Asti Spumante; an electric guitar in a Sam Ash gig bag; and the jock strap that he offered to Kevin Costner during the ALCS.
Contributors: Joanna Cagan, Allen St. John
Sports Editor: Miles D. Seligman