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Original Issue

Wet Behind The Ears

Here's a tip for young journalists: When you're covering a story
as important as the World Series, be sure to bring 1) an acute
sense of drama, 2) an encyclopedic knowledge of the game and 3) a
flotation device.

Sorry. I should have said, if you are covering the World Series
from the swimming pool in right centerfield at Bank One Ballpark
in Phoenix, home of the Barney-colored Arizona Diamondbacks. For
the small fee of $7,000 a national brewery rented that pool last
Saturday night, entertaining a group of 35 employees, clients and
friends from a Phoenix beer distributor with ballpark fare, a
water-basketball game and, if they could fit it in, Game 1 of the
World Series. Naturally, I crowbarred my way in.

O.K., so it's warped. Name one thing about the Diamondbacks that
isn't. Their first baseman chain-smokes. Their ace lefthander
wears a mullet. They play in a stadium called BOB, where there's
not only a pool in right but also a T.G.I. Friday's in left and a
roving guy who pours margaritas out of a spigot. Yes, margaritas
by spigot. You think the Babe wouldn't have loved BOB? What's
more, behind the pool is a museum in which you can see Arizona
jerseys dating all the way back to 1998!

The whole deal bugs Yankees fans worse than chocolate-chip
bagels. One New Yorker was quoted in the Daily News saying, "The
fans are out there playing Marco Polo in the water. How tough can
they be?" The Diamondbacks are 95 years, 26 world titles and 24
Hall of Famers behind the Bronx Bombers, and they don't even
care! "Mystique and aura?" says Arizona righthander Curt
Schilling. "Those are dancers at a nightclub."

So, armed with my flip-flops, waterproof pen and floating beer
holder, I went to work last Saturday night. The temperature for
the first pitch was 46[degrees]--in New York. At BOB it was
94[degrees]. What says World Series more than heat that would
reduce Camryn Manheim to Calista Flockhart?

Commissioner, will you be wearing the orange Speedo tonight?

Once you get past the feeling that you're taking a bath in front
of 49,646 people, being the pool reporter at a World Series is
heaven. You float there with a baseball glove on one hand. You
drink free beer-distributor beverages. Somebody wants to do the
Wave, you start it with a cannonball. And because it was after 5
o'clock, I was getting overtime.

Sure, the pool isn't perfect. The mascot fell in one night, and
wall hangers in bathing suits have dropped hats, balls, gloves,
food and the contents of their stomachs onto the field. But that
happens at Yankee Stadium, too, only most of those items are not
so much dropped as aimed at visiting rightfielders.

Anyway, here is my report on Game 1, though, keep in mind, it's
not easy to provide the accuracy and gravity a World Series
deserves when certain bikinis are being worn by certain people
directly in your line of vision. "That's our advantage,"
Diamondbacks first baseman Mark Grace says. "Teams come here and
can't take their eyes off all the breasts."

I think somebody hit a homer in the first inning (although I'm
not sure, because I was playing dunk ball). And I believe
somebody made a great infield play (but I couldn't see, because
I was in a breath-holding contest). And I think Arizona won (but
I could be wrong, on account of how exceedingly well the beer
distributor did his job).

I do remember one thing. The game turned, I think it was in the
third inning, when a Diamondback crushed one right at us. As
Yankees rightfielder David Justice gave chase, some members of
our party, having already conducted extensive sampling of their
product, decided to help Justice by screaming at him to watch out
for the wall and leaning over it, arms outstretched--to protect
him, of course. The ball just missed their hands, clanked off
Justice's glove and rolled around on the dirt, allowing two
Arizona players to move into scoring position.

"I think we freaked him out!" yelped distributor-type Ian
Yonushonis, who expressed no regret for his tactics. "Like they
wouldn't do that at Yankee Stadium?" They most certainly would
not have done that at Yankee Stadium. At Yankee Stadium they
would've caught the ball.

Anyway, the only lousy part of the evening was when the lifeguard
wouldn't let me float my beer in the pool. It's against the
rules. I may file a union grievance.


So, armed with my flip-flops, waterproof pen and floating beer
holder, I went to work last Saturday night.