Mets Go Home
“The plan has been abandoned.” And with those words last Tuesday, the mayor’s proposal to plant a minor-league baseball team in Brooklyn’s Parade Grounds was officially dead. Instead, the Mets will look to sites in Queens for a temporary home for their newly acquired single-A farm club—”temporary” here meaning until the city builds a permanent stadium in Coney Island, if ever—with the St. John’s University ball field the leading candidate.
Whether this represents a victory for the Flatbush community depends on whom you ask. Community Board 14’s Alvin Berk, who along with Brooklyn beep Howard Golden helped block the deal in court, was overjoyed at having fended off a project that would have increased traffic and seized part of a public park for private use—all without the benefit of public hearings or environmental impact studies. Not so ACORN, the community group that has undergone a stunning reversal of field in recent weeks, signing on with local youth sports leagues to a compromise featuring a scaled-down ballpark, no on-field parking, and $12 million in city renovation money for the beleaguered park. (The Mets would still have contributed bubkes.) “Now those fields are going to be in the same filthy condition they were before,” said the Reverend Ray Blanchette of ACORN in the wake of the deal’s collapse. “Where do they believe they’re going to come up with $12 million?”
Golden has promised unspecified money for helping restore the park’s ball fields, while Brooklyn councilmember Steve DiBrienza says he’ll push his colleagues to renew city funding: “[The mayor] spent almost $30 million to renovate City Hall Park as a monument to his ego, but for the Parade Grounds, which is a major resource for thousands of kids, he can’t find $12 million in the capital budget?”
A Real New York Bargain
The imminent appearance of Derek Jeter‘s John Hancock on a long-term contract cements the Yankees’ status as not only the best team in baseball, but the best organization. In the short term, Brian Cashman and Co. can sidestep baseball’s all-too-adversarial arbitration process and avoid the awkward situation of dissing their best player to his face. (“A-Rod’s better than you are, and Nomar’s better than you are, and Rey Ordoñez is such a gamer that he dyed his hair orange.”) But more to the point, they secured the most valuable property in baseball (superstar + matinee idol + 25-year-old with three World Series rings = baseball’s Michael Jordan) for the most productive years of his career. The risk factor is minuscule—unless he takes up small-craft aviation, you can be reasonably certain that Jeter will be one of the handful of the best players in baseball until 2007.
On the other hand, it’s even more certain that Derek’s reign as the king of the money heap will be short-lived. By the end of the season, possibly by the end of spring training, several of Derek’s fellow future Hall of Famers—Alex Rodriguez, Ken Griffey Jr., Manny Ramirez, Juan Gonzalez—will be making more. Like Bill James always says, you can’t overpay a superstar.
We’re Not Gonna Take It
Dee Snider‘s father was sure his son would be the next Mickey Mantle. “He was suicidal when I gave up sports and went to music in elementary school,” jokes Snider. But 30 years later, little Dee—who went on to form Twisted Sister, one of the iconical ’80s metal bands—is finally making the sports pages.
When Snider first heard Atlanta Braves closer John Rocker was using “I Wanna Rock” as his entrance music before he took the mound, he was psyched. “I wrote the song!” Snider exclaims. “I was fucking ecstatic.”
Snider liked Rocker’s bashing of New York during the playoffs, likening the taunts to WWF hooliganism. He even developed what he calls “a phone friendship” with the Braves pitcher.
But Rocker’s comments on ESPN about the demographic makeup of the No. 7 train were so out of line they shocked even the cross-dressing bandleader. Snider gave his “phone friend” a call. “I got his machine. I said, ‘I know things can be taken out of context. Let me know your side of it.’ No return phone call, and the [public] apology was half-assed at best.”
Snider met with TS guitarist Jay Jay French, and both decided to ask the Braves not to use the song anymore. French, a Mets fan, comes from what he describes as an “Upper West Side liberal Democratic household.” He saw this as a moment to “make a difference.” No one from the Braves responded, but then French got a suspicious phone call. “Someone called [and asked] ‘Is this where we can book Twisted Sister?’ ” That was strange considering the band hasn’t toured in years. The Caller ID read “Atlanta Braves.”
If the Braves keep paying ASCAP, the music rights licensing organization, they could keep using the song, according to French. But maybe Mets closer John Franco could loan Rocker his entrance song, “Johnny B. Goode,” penned by ex-con Chuck Berry.
Jockbeat wonders what’s with those wacky Canadians, who griped so much about their government’s plan to give tax breaks to hockey teams—one zany toque-wearer suggested mailing hockey pucks to the prime minister in protest—that the feds pulled the plug on the deal after only three days. Word to our neighbors to the north: Refusing to subsidize the national pastime is downright un-American, capisce?
CONTRIBUTORS: NEIL DEMAUSE, ALLEN ST. JOHN, BILL JENSEN
SPORTS EDITOR: MILES D. SELIGMAN