SHOTS HEARD ROUND THE WORLD
“Everyone in the world now knows Senegal,” said Alain Djigueul, manager of the Africa Kine restaurant on West 116th Street. He was speaking while his homeland’s team, the Lions, were cruising on their way to a 3-3 draw with Uruguay on June 11 that propelled them into the 2002 World Cup round of 16.
The eatery was jumping, even though it was 3:10 a.m. Senegal had just scored the second of their three first-half goals, and the 20 or so people in the eatery were yelling and high-fiving. A few spilled out into the street, and one man got on his cell phone immediately to call a friend. When ESPN broke in with a highlight showing that Denmark had gone ahead of France—Senegal’s former colonizer—the cheers were almost as strong. “France is finished,” one man said, smiling. (Senegal had signaled France’s doom earlier by beating them 1-0 in the opener for both teams.)
By now, the crew at Africa Kine are probably beside themselves. On Sunday, Senegal beat Sweden in overtime, 2-1. Early Monday morning, the U.S. joined Senegal in the quarterfinals by upsetting Mexico, 2-0. Who to root for? In New York, homeland loyalties run too deep to be ignored, especially during the World Cup. Others know it, too. At Africa Kine on June 11, two documentarians shot footage for a piece on the various enclaves of immigrants watching their countries play in the Cup.
Senegalese immigrants have had plenty to cheer about—and places to do it. This is the West African nation’s first trip to the World Cup, and when the Lions defeated France, a party broke out on the street just east of Morningside Park. The block is the unofficial heart of the city’s “Little Senegal” and home to many of the city’s Senegalese ex-pats (estimates of their number run from several hundred to several thousand). At halftime of the match against Uruguay, taking a break from the partying, Amath Diouf, a 33-year-old baker who has lived here for about four years, told us, “We’re trying to prove that we may be small, with a small population, but we can have a big name.” Uruguay fought back for a draw, but it didn’t matter. Senegal was moving into the second round. And the African Kine finally emptied out at about 4:30 a.m. —Peter Ephross
BEANING AND NOTHINGNESS
If history happens the first time as tragedy, the second as farce, then the latest Subway Series was a real hoot. We half expected Bobby V. to instruct the Pepsi Party Patrol gals, who shoot T-shirts into the crowd between innings, to turn their scary rocket launchers on the visitors’ dugout. Instead, we got Shawn Estes launching a ball at the Rocket‘s scary rump—and missing the ample target by a foot. (Even Sterling Hitchcock, a man who couldn’t find a strike zone if it were the size of Mr. Met‘s head, managed to bean Jeromy Burnitz the night before.) But the weekend’s biggest howler—bigger than rookie Marcus Thames‘s double off Armando Benitez, bigger than Andy Pettitte allowing back-to-back runs on a bases-loaded walk and a wild pitch—came when Estes homered off Roger Clemens, sending the inimitable Shea Stadium “Home Run Apple” bursting from its top hat (where apples live, of course) with joy. We’d never seen such an incongruous sight—until the next inning, when Clemens zinged a double into left field, thus acquiring a .500 batting average.
Speaking of incongruous sights, on Sunday it looked like someone had stolen every midnight-blue wristband in the city. From Joe Torre on down, the Yanks sported the same (clashing) turquoise bands as the Mets; so did the umps. Turns out they were supporting a prostate-cancer charity. With a 34-34 record, and tied for third place in the NL East, the Mets could use a little charity themselves. —J. Yeh
GOING, GOING . . . VAUGHN!
What’s in a name? Not much if the name is Vaughn, at least judging by the respective performances of Mo (of the Mets) and Greg (of the Devil Rays). Both teams would dearly love to send their Vaughns packing, but the players’ hefty contracts and dismal statistics—even including Mo’s Sunday-night homer against the Yanks—have rendered them undealable. The obvious solution: Trade Vaughn for Vaughn. Who would get the best of the swap? Frankly, it looks like equal value:
Bottom line: Make the deal. Since both players would be changing leagues, their season stats would revert to zero, and it’s hard to imagine two guys more in need of clean slates. —Paul Lukas