Penn trio's plan mightier than contraction's sword?

Students hoping that lots of little cuts save Expos from chopping block

Sports Plus

May 19, 2002|By Andy Knobel | Andy Knobel,SUN STAFF

Hey, Rotisserie baseball geeks, throw away your spreadsheets and computer printouts. Instead of owning a team vicariously, why not do it for real? Why not buy the Montreal Expos?

University of Pennsylvania students Jesse Spector, Sebastian Stockman and Jon Shazar have a deal for you. Since February, the fraternity brothers and student newspaper writers have been soliciting pledges to purchase the failing franchise and save it from possible contraction by Major League Baseball. They have $3,211,071.62 in commitments. notes that no money will be collected until the group gets the go-ahead to buy the Expos.

"We don't want to be hauled off to jail for running some sort of pyramid scheme," the Web site says. "We're just trying to see if we can apply the `Jaws of Life' to the Montreal franchise."

The three students have pledged $150 each and drawn the attention of Penn alumni Doug Glanville and Mark DeRosa.

"It's interesting three guys could sit in a dorm room, come up with this idea and then get people to believe in it," said DeRosa, an Atlanta Braves infielder.

Said Glanville, a Philadelphia Phillies outfielder: "If they're short a few bucks, I could put them over the top. ... Mark and I will be guaranteed jobs."

They shouldn't get their hopes up.

Considering that baseball's 29 owners paid $120 million to acquire the Expos from Jeffrey Loria in February, officials in the commissioner's office aren't awed by the pledge total.

"In our view," said Bob DuPuy, "they've embarked on a fruitless venture."

Good seats still available

With the Expos last in the major leagues in attendance, snickers are more plentiful than fans:

New York Mets broadcaster Fran Healy, describing the crowd at Olympic Stadium: "Crowd? This isn't a crowd. It's a focus group."

Comedian Bill Cosby: "How many hot dogs do they precook for a game here? Five?"

The Toronto Sun's Bill Lankhof: "Montreal is the only city where, instead of introducing the starting lineup, they just introduce the entire crowd."

Mind games

Maybe the Expos should follow the lead of England's Exeter soccer team and hire psychic Uri Geller as co-chairman.

Geller, known for his alleged spoon-bending powers, expects to "motivate the fans into buying more season tickets."

Maybe it'll work. As Yogi Berra once said, "Ninety percent of the game is half-mental."

Catch as catch can

Baseball's most infamous fan, Jeffrey Maier, is now a player.

Maier was 12 when he reached over the right-field wall at Yankee Stadium to steal Derek Jeter's game-tying home run from Orioles outfielder Tony Tarasco in Game 1 of the 1996 American League Championship Series.

These days, Maier, 17, catches flies legally. He hit .410 as a center fielder this season for Northern Valley Regional High in Old Tappan, N.J., and will play next season for Wesleyan.

Does Maier regret taking the ball from Tarasco?

"I do feel bad in a sense because the game is supposed to be played on the field," he said.

Sounds contrite enough. But when asked what he would do this October if he were in the bleachers and Jeter sent another shot to right, Maier said: "You go for it. There's no feeling like when your heart starts pumping and you see the ball in the air."

As John Fogerty sings, "Look at me, I can be centerfield."

Compiled from wire reports and Web sites.

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