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© St. Petersburg Times, published October 15, 2000

Hillary Clinton squares off with political opponent over playoffs

ROCHESTER, N.Y. -- Hillary Rodham Clinton left little doubt Saturday that if the Yankees and Mets make it into a Subway Series, she and her Senate opponent, Rick Lazio, will be on opposite sides.

Reminded that Lazio was a big-time Mets fan, Clinton said, "And I'm a Yankees fan. I've been a Yankees fan since I was a little girl." She noted that "when I was a little girl there weren't any Mets."

Clinton said it would be "thrilling" to have a Subway Series and that she might be open to a wager with Lazio on the outcome.

The Illinois-born Clinton was the subject of much derision last year when she announced that while she had always been a Cubs fan, she also was a Yankees fan.

She explained that with the Cubs being a National League team, she needed an American League team for which to root.

PAYROLLS: Bud Selig, responding to a New York Times news service report expressing concern with the focus he places on payroll disparity and that the constant public discussion of the issue is not positive for the game, said:

"Whoever said that is absolutely correct. I worry about that all the time. I understand it's very sensitive. People don't want to hear about it. On the other hand, everyone knows there's a problem, and I can't deny the existence of it.

"Do I want to talk about it? No. But wherever I go, even big markets, that's the first question people ask. But I'm very careful. I also start out by saying we're in the midst of this great renaissance. The game itself has never been more popular, gross revenues are at an all-time high, we just did a remarkable television contract. It's a very delicate line I have to walk."

Then, in a continuing discussion of the link between payrolls and playoffs, the commissioner noted that the four remaining teams have the highest payrolls in their divisions. They also, according to the latest management figures, rank 1, 3, 8 and 10 in payrolls computed the way they were done for luxury tax purposes, when the luxury tax existed. The method adds the average annual salary of all players on a team's 40-man roster.

The Yankees are first at $114.4-million, the Mets third at $99.7-million, St. Louis eighth at $88.9-million and Seattle 10th at $69.6-million. Conspicuous by their playoff absence are the Los Angeles Dodgers, who rank second at $105-million.

"It is, to me, beyond discussion and beyond debate," Selig said. "We do have a disparity problem. I think we have so much empirical data I can't imagine what other data we need. This year is further evidence."

It is such a problem for him, Selig added, that sometimes he wakes up in the middle of the night and peruses his payroll sheets.

MINORITY COACHES: With the managerial field wide open, Selig has reissued to the clubs his 1999 memo on minority interviewing. Selig is not telling clubs they have to hire minorities, but he has reiterated his policy that he expects the teams to interview them and submit to him lists of candidates for their vacant positions.

A year ago, the Detroit Tigers hired Phil Garner without sending the commissioner a list of candidates, and they paid for their transgression.

Selig, in response to a question about the legitimacy of interviews, said, "I expect them to be sincere."

That issue has been raised by some black and Hispanic candidates who have emerged from interviews feeling they had been token interviewees without any real shot at a job.

Willie Randolph and Chris Chambliss of the Yankees are among the most highly visible black coaches who will be interviewed. The Reds, the Phillies and the Dodgers have received permission to speak with Randolph (the Pirates supposedly also will ask); the Dodgers and the Diamondbacks with Chambliss.

As frustrated as the two Yankees coaches may be over their failure to be named managers after previous interviews, the strangest case involves Cito Gaston. He was the only manager between Sparky Anderson (1975-76) and Joe Torre (1998-99) to win successive World Series championships (1992-93), but he has been virtually ignored since the Blue Jays fired him in 1997.

PHILLIES: You really didn't think Curt Schilling would not have an opinion on who the next Phillies manager should be, did you? Rest easy. The outspoken former Phillies ace has cast his vote.

"I can't see any way John Vukovich would be the wrong choice," Schilling said. "I want to see Philadelphia get what it deserves -- a championship team. Hiring Vuke would be a good start."


"There's no one on that club who's been on a championship team," Schilling said. "Vuke has been, as a player and a coach. He's been around winners. He knows what it takes.

"He's the kind of guy where if you don't play the game the way it's supposed to be played, and if you don't bust your butt, he'll make things very uncomfortable for you."

Do the Phillies need that?

"I don't know," Schilling said. "Probably. If you don't have a player like a Dave Hollins, who makes it uncomfortable when you're not playing hard or right, you need a manager like that. For years, they haven't had that type of player, someone like Hollins. He learned that from Vuke.'

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