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HOME IS TRULY SWEET FOR DIAMONDBACKS

PHOENIX -- Matt Williams made a beeline to Monument Park the first time he stepped into Yankee Stadium.

"You have to go pay homage to the history of the game. That's where Ruth, Gehrig and DiMaggio played," the Arizona third baseman said. "It's a baseball cathedral."

Any tips on what Derek Jeter and the New York Yankees should do when they visit Bank One Ballpark?

"They might want to take a dip in the pool," Diamondbacks first baseman Mark Grace said.

From the Babe to the BOB, it'll be two different worlds at this year's World Series.

Especially when it comes to the stadiums, starting with Game One Saturday night in Phoenix.

"This is the biggest contrast there is, I think," Arizona pitcher Greg Swindell said Thursday.

"They're going to see our place and say, 'Spoiled rotten.' I mean, we have a tanning booth and a hot tub in our clubhouse. Their locker rooms are like our trainer's room."

True, the House That Ruth Built -- about a decade after Arizona became a state -- does not have those amenities. Its home clubhouse has something more hallowed -- Thurman Munson's locker, complete with his No. 15 jersey and catching gear, still intact from the day he died in a 1979 airplane crash.

"You're never going to match the tradition Yankee Stadium has. Never," Grace said. "When I go there for the first time next week, I'm going to be just like a little geek, seeing the monuments and shrines."

He'll be walking inside a park with 26 World Series championship flags. A place where Muhammad Ali fought, Johnny Unitas won the 1958 NFL championship in the so-called "Greatest Game Ever Played," Notre Dame coach Knute Rockne gave the "win one for the Gipper" speech and two popes celebrated Mass.

The BOB, on the other hand, has presented tractor pulls and motorcycle races in its four years.

"Man, they got a lot of stuff going on," Yankees outfielder Paul O'Neill said upon first look Thursday.

Even the fans who run across the field during games are far different. At Yankee Stadium, it's usually a drunken fan. At the BOB, you never know. One time, a woman popped out of the pool without a top.

Ah, the pool. Right behind the fence in right-center field, it rents for $7,000 a night and entertains 35 people. Among the rules: "Guests wearing obscene or indecent clothing will not be allowed into the pool area. Example: Thong style swimming suits."

"I didn't get a chance to check it out today," Jeter said after Thursday night's practice. "But I think they should put a pool in the center-field bleachers at Yankee Stadium, just to see how it works out."

The Yankees, who have not faced the Diamondbacks anywhere, will work out again at the BOB today.

"We wanted to give them the first day to gawk," New York manager Joe Torre.

An amusement park with a baseball theme, some call it, full of flashing message boards, enormous advertisements, a quarter-mile of concession stands and a retractable roof to shield fans from the scorching desert sun.

The ballpark was built with local sales tax money, a plan that upset so many residents at the time that one of them shot a county supervisor in the backside after a council meeting (she recovered).

It has history, too, though much of it borrowed. Glass cases sit at the top of each aisle and feature exhibits from baseball's past, including a wooden, blue seat from old Yankee Stadium.

There are photos of Roger Maris and other greats and a time line and pictures of old stadiums marking the year they opened -- a rookie mistake, however, listed Yankee Stadium at 1922, instead of 1923.

Special balls with a stars and stripes pattern will be used in the World Series. In addition to manufacturing the balls, Rawlings Sporting Goods also made balls with American flags that will be used for the ceremonial first pitches before Saturday's opener and Tuesday's Game Three in New York.

Both balls will be distributed for retail sale, and portions of the revenue will be donated to relief organizations and charities.

Around the horn

Houston Astros first baseman Jeff Bagwell is scheduled to have surgery today to repair a partially torn labrum in his right shoulder. He is expected to be ready for spring training. Bagwell reportedly played the entire season with the injury, which the team managed to keep private until recently.

Former Tampa Bay manager Larry Rothschild was hired by the Chicago Cubs as their pitching coach. He replaces Oscar Acosta, who resigned under pressure Oct. 3 over conflicts with manager Don Baylor.

Former All-Star third baseman Wade Boggs resigned as hitting coach of the Tampa Bay Devil Rays after one season, citing a desire to spend more time with his family.

Pittsburgh Pirates right-hander Bobby Bradley had reconstructive elbow surgery. He will join fellow pitchers Francisco Cordova and Ryan Vogelsong on the sidelines for the 2002 season.

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