EXPO 2004! CATCH THE EXCITEMENT!
The promos began last week: A group of lovelorn contestants will be invited to woo a single object of their desire—but there’s a catch! The joke’s on them, because the promised prize is really a pauper!
Joe Millionaire? Nah—the Montreal Expos. Last Friday, Bud Selig‘s minions declared that delegations from cities hoping to land the MLB-owned club for their own in 2004 will be invited to meet with a “relocation committee” in February. Prospective ownership groups, though, are notably not invited—an indication that the first hurdle on the road to joining the big leagues is a willingness to cough up public subsidies. Given that none of the cities thought to be MLB-ready—Washington, Portland, Las Vegas—have shown much eagerness to spend stadium dollars on a team that hasn’t smelled the post-season in two decades, the thinking at Selig Central seems to be: Why not try a public free-for-all and see if that’ll shake some bucks loose? At least one leading bachelorette seems to understand what it’ll take to keep from being Elimidated. “The District is, in a sense, a suitor of a debutante with expensive taste,” D.C. mayoral spokesman Tony Bullock told The Washington Post. Look on the bright side, Tony: Even if you don’t win the right to throw $300 million at the lords of baseball, maybe you can wangle a cameo on According to Jim. —Neil deMause
YOU COULD LOOK IT UP
How do you get to Cooperstown? Don’t ask anyone involved in the latest chapter of the Pete Rose debacle. While getting Rose reinstated into baseball is one way to get him into the Hall of Fame, there’s another, less messy way. Although Rule 3e of the Hall of Fame bylaws states that “any player on Baseball’s ineligible list shall not be an eligible candidate,” Amendment 9 states equally clearly, “The Board of Directors of the National Baseball Hall of Fame and Museum, Inc. reserves the right to revoke, alter, or amend these rules at any time.” So lobby the Hall of Fame to change its bylaws. Those concerned about the historic linkage between baseball’s banned list and the Hall of Fame ballot will note that Shoeless Joe Jackson received two votes in 1936 and two votes again in 1946. This solution separates the Hall of Fame question from the larger issue of whether Rose, an unrepentant gambler, should be allowed into the dugout, the front office, or even the broadcast booth, where he would be privy to “inside” information and might even be in a position to influence the outcome of baseball games. As for those, including Fay Vincent and John Dowd, who argue that the inclusion of Rose’s record-breaking bat and ball in Cooperstown’s collection is honor enough, we refer them to the fine print in Total Baseball. It turns out that a more careful accounting of Ty Cobb‘s hit totals revealed that two hits were double-counted, and his hit total was revised downward from 4191 to 4189. That means that Rose actually broke the record a few days earlier, and the artifacts on display in upstate New York are not the “real” record breakers. Somehow that factoid fits in perfectly with the game’s grandest mess. —Allen St. John
GIANTS DO DALLAS
Jim Fassel wished Cowboys owner Jerry Jones well following his team’s 37-7 dismantling of Dallas at the Meadowlands last Sunday. The Giant coach should have said, “Thank you.” New York hasn’t dominated an opponent like that in more than two years—and the Giants’ average margin of victory this season heading into the game was only five points. Even the normally bombastic Jones called the thrashing a “surprise.” There’s an understatement for you. But Jones has mostly himself to blame. His piss-poor personnel decisions as the self-appointed GM of “America’s Team” are well documented. This season, he handed defense-minded head coach Dave Campo two former minor-league baseball players—Quincy Carter and Chad Hutchinson—at QB, a patchwork offensive line, an aging Emmitt Smith, and a mediocre receiving corps. Yet only Campo is a lock to be gone at the end of the season. After all, Jones isn’t likely to fire himself.
As Jones held court with the Dallas media in the Cowboys’ locker room and avoided questions about his coach’s future, down the hall soft-spoken Giants’ owner Wellington Mara let his sly smile do the talking. He didn’t need to remind his players, or the New York media, of his team’s lack of success against their division rivals (30-48-2 vs. “them ‘Boys” since Dallas entered the league in 1960). Giants tight end Dan Campbell admitted he appreciates playing for “a guy like Wellington” when he sees Jones, though he added that he’s heard nothing bad about the Dallas owner, even from close friend and Cowboy linebacker Dat Nguyen. “But he strikes me as a guy who needs to be in the middle of everything,” Campbell told the Voice. Another understatement. —Brian P. Dunleavy
MEMO TO CHREBET: GET A GRIP
OK, that’s it. No more slack for Wayne Chrebet, please. Back in November 1999 against the Colts, the feisty little Jet receiver let a perfect fourth-quarter, fourth-down pass from Ray Lucas slip right through his fingers in the end zone. Cost the Jets a crucial playoff-type game. Last Sunday against the Bears, with Chad Pennington marching the boys downfield toward victory, Chrebet went airborne and let go of the ball without even getting hit. Cost the Jets a crucial playoff-type game. Hey, Wayne, could you at least stop whining about not getting the ball? You got it. You lost it. End of story. —Ward Harkavy