Braves New World
Certain that the hoopla surrounding the debut of the Arizona Diamondbanks had sufficiently subsided, the Flash finally got around to sampling the press experience that is Major League Baseball. It just so happened that the mighty Atlanta Braves were in town.

The Flash picked up a one-game credential from the "Media Will Call" window at Bank One Ballpark and was directed to the nearest entrance. There, the Flash was turned back and redirected to the press entrance, Gate H, which was "around the corner of the stadium" to the south. The Flash dutifully set out to attain and breach Gate H. Along the way, the Flash asked several of the legion of security people who surround the facility if they happened to know which gate was H. They all shrugged. The Flash hiked on, past the high-walled parking area for ballplayers and team officials, and along a single-lane road on the south side of the dome. There was no Gate H in sight and the Flash thought he was seeing a mirage when a door popped open and two fans stuck their heads out. They were stepping out for a smoke, so the Flash darted in.

Now, to breach the press box. The Flash was directed to an elevator, which, fortunately, had one whole floor conveniently labeled "Press." Once disgorged, it was a simple matter of following hand-lettered signs and arrows through a maze that leads to the press box, otherwise known as The Cliche Repository.

All fans who covet the journalist's privilege will be disappointed to learn that the Flash's view was not at all breathtaking. Because New Times is not sufficiently versed in the craft of sports cliche, the publication lacks a permanent credential and the unobstructed seat that comes with it. In any case, the Flash's seat was in what could be called the press box's "overflow" area. The Flash could not see through a wall to the right-field corner. The left fielder was intermittently blotted out by TV monitors. The Flash could not see all of the Jumbotron because of a low ceiling. The Flash does not know if BOB's roof was open or closed.

The view of the infield was certainly adequate. The hot-dog treadmill was well-stocked, and free.

The Flash did encounter the immortal Skip Caray, a Braves announcer of great repute and spawn of the dearly departed but nonetheless immortal Harry Caray. Skip wandered out of his broadcast booth between innings and sauntered slowly through the press box, clearly lost. The Flash quickly recognized that Skip, a man of considerable girth, was looking for the dining room, and it was there he was encountered. The Flash told the play-by-play icon that his talents had brought much enjoyment to the Flash over the past, say, 20 years.

"Well, thank you," the Skipster responded. "But you make me feel old when you say that."

The Flash suppressed the urge to tell Skip that he is old, instead waxing nostalgic of the post-Aaron glory days, when the Braves' fortunes were tethered to a fledgling cable "superstation" and such players as the immortal Biff Pocoroba.

Caray chortled as he drew a drink from the soda machine.
"Well, Biff has a sausage factory in Atlanta now."
"Are the sausages any good?"
"I don't know. It's way across town."
Funny. The Flash had surmised that Skip was on an all-sausage diet.

The D-Banks fought the Atlanta juggernaut ferociously but came up short, 6-5. After the game, the Flash visited the sanctum of the finest team of the '90s to see what makes America's Team tick.

The postgame routine consisted of players resolutely chowing down in a dining room adjacent to the locker room. The immortal manager Bobby Cox sat in an office nearby, gratuitously cursing for the assembled sportswriters, who, of course, would sanitize his verbiage. The immortal Tom Glavine, a Cy Young Award winner, sat on a leather sofa watching a hockey playoff game (Glavine was drafted by the Boston Bruins in addition to the Braves). The immortal John Smoltz, a mediagenic Cy Young winner, pronounced BOB "unique" and "a very large structure." The exceedingly immortal Greg Maddux, a multiple Cy Young winner and undoubtedly the greatest pitcher alive, showed his storied versatility, emerging sated from his feeding to belch and break wind loudly.

Hey, it's a locker room.

Humble John's PACkin'
Our snowy-haired Senator John McCain loves to be on the side of the gods--just consider his going-nowhere-but-looking-so-noble campaign-finance-reform legislation.

Humble John's latest? The anti-tobacco legislation--also destined to go nowhere, but sure to get him all kinds of fabulous press coverage.

Something the liberaleastcoastmediaelite hasn't mentioned: McCain's a relatively recent convert to the anti-Joe Camel crusade. According to the Center for Responsive Politics Web site, McCain hasn't taken any money from tobacco companies in the past two years. But he did take $41,000 from tobacco PACs between 1990-96. The Flash wonders if the tobacco PACs are asking for a refund.

Meanwhile, the Tribune's Washington bureau reports that Humble John, chairman of the communications-law-writing Senate Commerce Committee, is pushing for a revision that would remove hoops that U S West must jump through before it can compete with AT&T and other long-distance carriers.

And--by coincidence--U S West execs have handed McCain $33,600 in campaign contributions in the most recent election cycle.

Aw, shucks. McCain is more popular than Snapple. He's amassed $1.94 million in donations since January 1, 1997. Nearly a quarter of that sum has come from PACs, and $560,000 of it has come from sources outside Arizona.

Campaign reform, indeed.

Sher and Sher Alike
Tom Bearup deserved credit when he quit the sheriff's office and went public with his concerns about Sheriff Joke Arpaio's administration. Claiming that he regretted helping to create the myth of Arpaio as "America's Toughest Sheriff," Bearup described becoming disillusioned with Joke's "paranoia" and his yearning for publicity, and Bearup complained that his questions about how posse money was being raised and spent were blown off by the Crime Avenger.

But if Bearup made a notable whistle-blower, does that make him good material for sheriff?

In a slightly bizarre announcement--at least in its timing, more than two years before county elections--Bearup proclaimed his candidacy for sheriff last week. Once The Sher's top political aide, Bearup says he has a reason for making the announcement so early: "We've got a mountain to climb. I helped build the reputation that he has, and I'm going to need the time to show people exactly what he's become."

And what Arpaio's become, Bearup told reporters last week, was a "paranoid bully."

KTVK-TV Channel 3 reported the Jokenheimer's response: "The policeman in me considers the bully part of that a compliment."

The politician in him, however, answered for the paranoid part.
Despite massive odds against Bearup, whose only previous experience as an elected official is a stint as mayor of a small Alaska town, Arpaio's office released documents that suggested Bearup had misused his position as Arpaio's aide and that Bearup, an ordained minister, had made his decision to run for sheriff based on a religious vision.

The Flash thinks Bearup may have something there. Bearup might just have an edge with the boss upstairs, who no doubt is preparing a special place for the Crime Avenger which looks just like Tent City but is even hotter than Phoenix in July.

Feed the Flash: voice, 229-8486; fax, 340-8806; online, [email protected]

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