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Santini: Puerto Rico Does It Better In English

By Gabrielle Paese

March 7, 2003
Copyright © 2003 PUERTO RICO HERALD. All Rights Reserved.

I say "estadio," you say "stadium."

San Juan mayor Jorge Santini chewed on both words this week plus his foot (or shall we say ‘pata’?) during a press conference to show off improvements to Hiram Bithorn Stadium for the first Expos "home" games in San Juan beginning April 11.

What Santini announced is going to get lost in my translation here, because I’m already calling the place "Hiram Bithorn Stadium" since our readers are reading this column in English. But Santini told the media this week that the 41-year-old sign at the top of the stadium that reads "Estadio Municipal Hiram Bithorn" is going to be changed to read "Hiram Bithorn Stadium."

"I don’t expect there to be any problems with the name change because Spanish and English are our official languages," Santini said (in Spanish, by the way). "It’s not a name change. It’s the same name in English."

It sure is. And most Puerto Ricans, whether or not they speak English, won’t have to stretch their brains too far to understand that "stadium" is the English word for "estadio." But, apart from showing off his English to Major League Baseball and Expos ticket holders, what point is Santini really proving by changing the sign?

Even the "ugliest American" stateside traveler isn’t likely to need the sign out front to know he’s arrived at the Expos’ new spring and summer home.

Santini would be better off investing his dollars for English/Spanish signs within the stadium, which he insisted last week he won’t be doing. The "caballeros and damas" signs on the municipal facility’s bathrooms are going to be much more intimidating to an English-speaking tourist after a few Medallas than the big sign on the building out front.

And that’s without even mentioning the architectural implications of a sign change on a 41-year-old facility.

What’s next? Roberto Clemente "Coliseum" and "Mall of the Americas?"

John Ruiz Takes Time Off To Regroup

Talk about your boring fights. Roy Jones Jr.’s unanimous decision victory over John Ruiz for Ruiz’s WBA heavyweight title last Saturday night in Las Vegas was a real snoozer. Ruiz came out punching in the first round, but after that was content to play a waiting game and let Jones Jr. jab away at him and get in enough good punches to score an easy victory.

Boxing fans watch heavyweight fights to see hard hitters and blood, no? If they want to see two boxers dancing around the ring, they’ll tune in for the featherweights. The loss is not good news for Ruiz’s career. Even though he went off as a 9-to-5 underdog in the Vegas betting odds, logic dictates that the heavier guy should win the fight and Ruiz outweighed Jones by at least 30 pounds.

According to the HBO pay-per-view figures, Ruiz still gets a million dollar payday because more than half a million (525,000) home viewers bought the fight. That means pay-per-view made an estimated $26 million off the event. Jones Jr.’s deal was $10 million for the fight plus 60 percent of the pay-per-view profits while Ruiz got no purse guarantees save 40 percent of the pay-per-view booty to split with Don King.

What’s next for Ruiz? Well, promoters are not exactly going to be knocking down King’s door to line up a fight with Ruiz now that he’s been dethroned. And who knows whether Jones Jr. will take another heavyweight fight. One thing’s for sure, the next move will be Don King’s. And in boxing, what goes around, comes around.

Referees Ready To Negotiate With Superior Basketball League

After a week of strike threats and discontent over the lack of a collective bargaining agreement, the Referee’s Association this week agreed to sit down to the negotiating table with SBL president Henry Neumann to iron out contractual differences. The league wants to do away with the Referee’s Association, which it sees as a private club. Neumann wants to make the referees "pros" and let each ref cut his own deal. The 25 refs in the Association want a contract as in previous years.

Gabrielle Paese is the Assistant Sports Editor at the San Juan Star. She is the 2000 recipient of the Overseas Press Club's Rafael Pont Flores Award for excellence in sports reporting. Comments or suggestions? Contact Gabrielle at

Her Column, Puerto Rico Sports Beat, appears weekly in the Puerto Rico Herald.

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