'Fan friendly' owners only root for green stuff

Phil Jackman

October 27, 1993|By Phil Jackman

Reading Time: Two Minutes.

Did you see that new term the NFL has coined, "fan friendly," used in describing stadiums? What bull, the owners acting as if creature comforts of loyalists in the cheap seats is all they care about.

Luxury boxes, club seats and the attendant trappings are the simple necessities all owners insist on these days and they demand these things be wrapped up in state-of-the-art stadiums updated every four or five years, just like the rugs.

* For years, people marveled about the "Miracle Braves" of 1914, the Boston team rallying from last place on the Fourth of July to the National League pennant. Worst-to-first stories and teams arising from the depths for a brief splash are so prevalent these days, it's not even big-deal material anymore. It says something about baseball.

* When he was playing for the Yankees, Mel Stottlemyre was not only one of the best pitchers in baseball, he also was a true gentleman, no easy assignment while toiling in the Bronx and later coaching for the Mets out in Queens.

That's why it was pitiful watching Mel's son, Todd, and his disgraceful display toward Philadelphia Mayor Ed Rendell at the conclusion of the Series. Amidst a feeling of good will and celebration, the Blue Jays pitcher did his number in response to Rendell's chiding him earlier. Fully as bad was CNN's choosing to air the incident about a dozen times. Boy, it was a long way from Desert Storm.

* Is Dudley Wysong any relation to Otis Birdsong? And, if he isn't, why not?

* Remember a few years ago when a favored pastime in these parts was arguing which of the conferences, ACC or Big East, was better? The subject then was hoops, but the makings of a pretty good "discussion" exists today with football as the focus.

While the Tobacco Road Gang has a little more power at the top with runaway No. 1 Florida State (7-0), Virginia (6-1) and North Carolina (7-2), the Big East is solid with No. 4 Miami (5-1) and unbeaten No. 13 West Virginia (6-0). The second tier is where the latter league makes up ground.

Virginia Tech (5-2), Boston College (4-2), Syracuse (4-2-1) and Rutgers (4-3) are the goods while Clemson (5-2) and North Carolina State (4-2) are the same, but Georgia Tech (2-5) and Wake Forest (2-5) are specious at best.

The teams at the bottom -- Duke (2-6) and Maryland (1-6) and Pitt (1-6) and Temple (1-6) -- well, let's just say they're rebuilding and let it go at that. While the Big East probably has a little more depth, it figures because it had the opportunity to pick some solid football programs to replace its basketball-only and Division I-AA schools.

* The way it works out, gang, Phillies manager Jim Fregosi is fully as warm and charming as he appeared to be on the telly.

* Meet Doug Graber, who might be a one-in-a-million guy as Rutgers football coach. The Scarlet Knights play Pitt Thursday night on the tube (ESPN) and, when asked about the short week of preparation, etc., he replied, "It's not a big deal with me."

Every coach within memory has moaned endlessly about the change in routine, suggesting the assignment is worthy of a Congressional Medal of Honor, at least.

"Naw," says Graber, "all you have to do is get everything done in two days that normally takes three. The key is to get the previous game out of the way quickly."

* Yes, Pat Gillick has proven a very adept general manager in Toronto. But given the fact he could spend to a total payroll of $51 million this year might have had something to do with his and the team's continued success.

* You've got a great memory, Bunky, if the pair of transcontinental touchdown punt returns by Cleveland's Eric Metcalf last Sunday reminded you of a Thanksgiving Day game years ago when Detroit's Jack Christiansen did the same thing to Green Bay before a national audience.

* If you haven't got into hockey yet, be assured things haven't changed much with the Washington Capitals: They're 0-4 in their division, formerly the Patrick, now the Atlantic. As coach Terry Murray points out, "What makes division games so important is they indicate how you're going to do in the playoffs." Oh-oh.

* The good news with the World Series is readers weren't subjected to endless stories about what a dynamite job guys who did the advance scouting for the teams did. The bad news was the games took an average of 3 1/2 hours and too many guys coming out of the bullpen these days absolutely refuse to throw the ball over the plate until it's an absolute necessity.

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