Not that we're big fans of Cablevision ( CVC), but even we at the research lab are feeling sorry for those guys. The Long Island-based cable TV operator has emerged as a loud opponent of a proposal to build a football stadium on the west side of midtown Manhattan -- a project the company believes would encroach on the business of Cablevision's Madison Square Garden sports arena. One thing we love about Cablevision: Over the years, like a steroid-pumped professional wrestler, the company has gleefully embraced the role of the villain in various public disputes. So, as in earlier disputes with the Yankees and Time Warner ( TWX), Cablevision has sparked a firestorm of public wrath. In recent days, for example, the Jets have targeted Cablevision shareholders with TV ads equating Cablevision's stadium opposition with its doomed effort to launch the Voom high-definition satellite service. Well, Voom was a stupid idea. But to equate the millions that Cablevision may spend on self-defensive lobbying with the billion bucks the Jets allege Cablevision wasted on Voom is loopy. Even loopier was the reaction to the surprise move Cablevision made last week to kill the stadium: The company offered to buy the stadium site from the city's cash-strapped Metropolitan Transportation Authority and build housing there instead. How serious that offer is, we're not sure. But it did put New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg -- a guy who sees a stadium as a key element of the city's bid to host the 2012 Olympics -- in the odd position of suggesting the underfunded transit authority ignore this high bidder for its property. Wow. After a year of watching Voom speed toward its inevitable demise, it's refreshing to witness a dispute in which Cablevision is the sensible party.