THE PRICE OF SEDUCTION
The Illinois legislature gave in to the demands of the Chicago White Sox last week and narrowly passed a package of financial incentives that will probably keep the club from moving to St. Petersburg, Fla. (page 60). The state will finance the construction of a new park for the Sox, and before the spending for these municipal seductions is over, the team could reap a windfall worth $60 million. Funding for education in the state, on the other hand, received a much lower increase than had been sought. That's a heavy price to pay in the name of civic pride.
The White Sox are only the latest sports franchise to happily play one city off against another. The standard procedure is for a team to encourage the affections of new municipal suitors, who promise tax breaks and a shiny new stadium, while moaning about the millions of dollars it would cost to refurbish the crumbling joint it's playing in now.
The football Cardinals had barely finished surveying the boodle the city of Phoenix showered on them last winter to lure them from St. Louis when they began to calculate just how much they could gouge their eager new fans. When the Phoenix Cardinals announced ticket prices recently for their inaugural season, what they presented was a study in greed. Prices in 70,021-seat Sun Devil Stadium will range from $150 to $350 per season, a reasonable scale by current NFL standards, but the Cardinals will also charge premiums on season tickets ranging from $50 to $1,650. And the luxury sky boxes aren't even finished yet.
At prices like that, St. Louis might well ask itself if it isn't a good thing the team got away. And St. Petersburg, empty ballpark and all, ought to be asking the same question.
As of Sunday the California Angels were hitting only .250, 12th among the 14 American League teams. And perhaps predictably so. After all, the Angels' hitting coach is Rick Down, who never had a major league at bat. He took over the job this spring, replacing Moose Stubing, who batted five times in the bigs without getting a hit.
Struggling California hitters have been expressing their frustration by assaulting watercoolers and bat racks in the dugout. So, manager Cookie Rojas recently had a punching bag installed in the runway between the dugout and the clubhouse, presumably to reduce the risk of injury to his players. But a team publicity man, John Sevano, says the purpose of the bag is to prevent property damage. Whatever, there's no reason to think the Angels can hit it, either.
THE BLUES BROTHERS
In lasting just 91 seconds against Mike Tyson, Michael Spinks still showed more staying power than his older brother, Leon, who two weeks earlier got himself knocked out by someone named Tony Morrison (not the Pulitzer Prize-winning author Toni Morrison, although, in fairness to her it should be pointed out that she hasn't had her shot at him yet) in a breathtaking 33 seconds.
LEON VOTED FOR DR. PEPPER