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Nothing more vividly epitomizes the contempt that many baseball players have for their fans than the lighted firecracker that New York Met leftfielder Vince Coleman threw out the window of a car in the players' parking lot at Dodger Stadium last Saturday afternoon. Three people, including an 11-year-old boy and a one-year-old girl, suffered minor injuries when the firecracker exploded. The three were in a crowd of several hundred fans who were hoping to get autographs from, or at least catch a glimpse of, their ball-playing heroes. Coleman's response was to fling a firecracker.
Dodger leftfielder Eric Davis, who was driving, tried to play down the incident, saying that Coleman didn't mean to hurt anybody. "It's not like it was something out of the ordinary," said Davis, and sadly, he is right. Two weeks earlier an unidentified Met tossed a lighted firecracker behind reporters in the team's locker room. Nobody was injured on that occasion, but the three people hurt by Coleman's action weren't so lucky.
The Los Angeles Fire Department's arson unit was investigating, but one didn't have to wait for the results to condemn Coleman for stupidity and arrogance. It's bad enough that some ballplayers won't sign autographs at the park, preferring to sell them at card shows. It's worse if autograph seekers have to worry about being greeted by exploding firecrackers.
NBA commissioner David Stern's investigation into Michael Jordan's gambling debts to erstwhile golfing pal Richard Esquinas is a charade. So says Jordan himself, who laughed at a similar NBA probe last year into his gambling losses to convicted cocaine dealer Slim Bouler (SCORECARD, June 21). Now snickers from Jordan are audible once again.
"Stern's just doing what he's got to do, making it seem like he's doing his job," Jordan told the Chicago Sun-Times's Jay Mariotti. "Their [investigation] is just a formality, no big deal. It doesn't concern me. It'll be taken care of, and it will go away."
Here's a question for Stern: If Jordan doesn't take your investigation seriously, why should anyone else?
The Old Squeeze Play
The New York Yankees' George Steinbrenner, whom Steve Wulf excoriates in POINT AFTER (page 70) for trying to exact concessions from New York City and New York State by threatening to move his club to New Jersey, isn't the first owner to play that shabby game. As two insightful new books make clear, many others have worked similar squeeze plays. And, as is the case with Steinbrenner's machinations in New York, politicians are only too willing to be squeezed.