ROSE PROBE (CONT.)
How strong is the case against Pete Rose? Insofar as allegations that he bet on baseball are concerned, the most damaging evidence had been statements made by Paul Janszen, a former friend of Rose's now serving a six-month prison sentence for tax evasion. SI and other publications have reported that Janszen told baseball investigators he placed bets on baseball—and on the Cincinnati Reds, the team Rose manages—on Rose's behalf. But it has been unclear how much corroboration another possible witness against Rose. Ron Peters, could provide. Peters's attorney, Alan Statman, had described his client as Rose's "principal bookmaker" and had told of having "information" that Rose had bet on baseball. But what was the nature of that information?
A source close to baseball's continuing investigation of Rose told SI's Jill Lieber last week that Peters, who has agreed to plead guilty to federal charges of tax evasion and cocaine trafficking, has informed the commissioner's office that he had firsthand dealings with Rose regarding baseball betting. The possibility existed that Peters knew of Rose's involvement in baseball betting only through Janszen. Further, two sources told SI that Peters informed the commissioner's office that Rose had also placed baseball bets with Peters through another former friend, Tommy Gioiosa.
Gioiosa, who has been indicted on charges of tax evasion and conspiracy to distribute cocaine, allegedly handled Rose's baseball bets before Janszen began doing so—handled them, in fact, as far back as Rose's playing days, which ended in 1986. "Gioiosa did what Janszen did, only a lot longer," one of the sources said. But the source added, "Janszen bet on baseball a hell of a lot more than Gioiosa." The sources would not say whether Peters had told baseball investigators that Rose had bet on the Reds (which would bring him a lifetime ban from the game as opposed to a one-year suspension if he bet on baseball but not on the Reds), but last month ST quoted a source friendly to both Janszen and Peters as saying that both men had told him that Rose had done so.
Rose has denied betting on baseball, and Gioiosa has said that he placed bets for Rose only at the racetrack. But Peters is considered a credible witness by baseball commissioner Bart Giamatti, who, it was revealed last week, on April 18 sent a letter lauding Peters to U.S. District Judge Carl B. Rubin, who had been scheduled to sentence Peters. In the letter Giamatti said that Peters has provided baseball with "critical sworn testimony about Mr. Rose and his associates. In addition, Mr. Peters has provided probative documentary evidence to support his testimony and the testimony of others. Based upon other information in our possession, I am satisfied Mr. Peters has been candid, forthright and truthful with my special counsel [chief baseball investigator John Dowd]."
Upon receiving the letter, which Giamatti had asked be kept confidential, Rubin called a conference in his chambers with Statman and Assistant U.S. Attorney Robert Brichler. According to a transcript of the meeting obtained by SI and some other publications, Brichler disclosed that Rose was under federal investigation for possible tax evasion; previously there had been only press reports that Rose was under federal investigation. Brichler also said that Peters, who is cooperating with federal authorities in the investigation of Rose's taxes, "has indicated to us that he took bets over a period of two years from Mr. Rose that could very well amount to in excess of a million dollars."
Giamatti's letter caused problems for both himself and Rubin. In the conference the judge said that he was "offended" by the letter, which he apparently saw as an unseemly attempt to influence his sentencing of Peters. "I resent the baseball commissioner entering into what I think is—there is evidence here, in my opinion, of a vendetta against Pete Rose," said Rubin.
Rose's attorney, Reuven Katz, said that Giamatti "has to consider if he has compromised himself," and other lawyers agreed. "Giamatti has absolutely tainted himself." said Los Angeles trial lawyer Paul Caruso, who for several decades has represented sports figures in legal and disciplinary matters. "He has already indicated that he has great trust in one of Rose's great accusers." Said Alan Rothenberg, an attorney who's also president of the Los Angeles Clippers, "Letters are written all the time for the likes of Ron Peters. But when it comes in the middle of [Giamatti's] own investigation, it's ill-advised."
For his part, Rubin has been quoted as saying that he has been a friend of Katz's "for 60 years." Before suggesting that Giamatti may be waging a vendetta against Rose, he showed Katz a copy of the commissioner's letter. Later, sounding more like a Reds fan than an impartial jurist, he told The New York Times that baseball should have completed its investigation of Rose before the baseball season began. "I don't think that such a prolonged investigation can help either the manager or the team," said Rubin. He also accused the press of having "tried, convicted and executed" Rose. Realizing that he had created at least an appearance of impropriety by entangling himself in the Rose case, Rubin recused himself last Thursday from the sentencing of Peters.
What Peters is said to have told baseball investigators compounds Rose's predicament. Last week The Cincinnati Post quoted sources as saying that Rose was prepared to tell baseball investigators that Janszen is a blackmailer who had threatened to concoct allegations against him if Rose didn't lend him $40,000. Last month SI quoted a source close to Rose and Janszen who said that Janzsen had blackmailed Rose. However, this source said that Janszen claimed Rose owed him money for a gambling debt.
Discrediting Janszen would not necessarily solve Rose's apparent problems with baseball. If Peters has told the commissioner's office that he has firsthand knowledge of baseball betting by Rose, the Cincinnati manager will have to refute that as well. Rose can't claim that Peters and Janszen worked together to implicate him. Peters was arrested on information provided through Janszen, and the two men are anything but friendly.
In breaking away last fall from the Men's Tennis Council and announcing plans to form its own tour beginning in 1990, the Association of Tennis Professionals said that its tour would be more responsive than the MTC's to the needs and wishes of players. ATP leadership has violated that pledge, however—and shown a lack of sensitivity—by scheduling two tournaments in South Africa next year, one to be played in Cape Town, the other in Johannesburg.
South Africa has long been banned from the Olympics, the Davis Cup and other sports competitions because of its deplorable treatment of nonwhites under apartheid. To its discredit, the men's pro tennis tour does not have a similar ban. For the last 16 years, the men's Grand Prix tour has included a late-season stop in Johannesburg, and individual players have often been lured to South Africa to take part in lucrative exhibitions. But some top pros, among them John McEnroe and Tim Mayotte, oppose holding tournaments in South Africa, and in forming its new circuit, the ATP had a chance to make a clean break from the past.
In explaining why the association would hold two tournaments in South Africa, ATP chief executive officer Hamilton Jordan said it was not a political judgment, and added that politics and sports shouldn't mix. They do mix, of course, and in the case of South Africa they are inextricable. The South African government has been integrating its sports programs in hopes of gaining readmission to the international sports community and of creating the impression—a false impression—that its society has attained a high level of racial equality.
Thoughtful tennis players don't want to play in South Africa. The Association of Tennis Professionals doesn't need to hold events there.
If you feel the ground quiver slightly on the morning of May 8 at about 10 o'clock, don't worry. More than 230,000 students in all 50 states and on the island of St. Croix will be exercising to celebrate national youth-fitness day. Given the sorry physical condition of much of American youth (SI, March 13), the exercise session, which was put together by Lenny Saunders, a high-spirited phys-ed teacher at Valley View and William Mason elementary schools in Montville, N.J., should be applauded. More to the point, it should be repeated, vigorously and daily, at schools nationwide.
SILENCE IS GOLDEN
SI's Bill Nack, who has correctly picked the Kentucky Derby winner in three of the last six years, offers his forecast for the 115th running of the event:
Throughout the 1980s, racetrack habituès have lamented the absence of an heir to the great thoroughbreds of the 1970s, such as Secretariat, Seattle Slew, Alydar, Affirmed and Spectacular Bid. That may be about to change. Not since Secretariat emerged as the dominant 3-year-old in 1973 has a horse so fired the imagination of the racing public. Easy Goer has the looks, pedigree and style of a Triple Crown champion. No wonder he will probably go off on Saturday as the shortest-priced Derby favorite in years.
All that said, I'm here to suggest that the yellow flag is up. Proceed with caution. Easy Goer's chief opponent, Sunday Silence, has shown flashes of brilliance. On April 8, he crushed five other 3-year-olds, including the enigmatic Houston, to win the 1‚Äö√Ñ√∂‚àö√±‚àö¬µ-mile Santa Anita Derby by 11 lengths in an extremely fast 1:47[3/5]. That performance was even more impressive than Easy Goer's three-length victory in the Wood Memorial at Aqueduct.
Any sleepwalker can pick Easy Goer, as I have been doing all spring, and he may turn out to be as good as everyone expects. Meanwhile, looking for a better price, I'm switching to Sunday Silence.
The New York Racing Association's 1989 media guide includes in its thumbnail biographies of jockeys and trainers more than the usual names, ages and listings of races won. Most of those profiled also answered this question: If you could be anyone in history, who would you be?
The jockeys tended to name other athletes—Angel Cordero, for example, picked Muhammad Ali, and Bill Shoemaker chose Arnold Palmer—but the trainers preferred authority figures of one sort or another. Life must be rough for the stablehands taking orders from these guys, most of whom chose the likes of Vince Lombardi, Henry VIII, John Wayne, Teddy Roosevelt and Donald Trump. Angel Penna picked Napoleon Bonaparte, and his son. Angel Penna Jr., also a trainer, said, "Francisco Franco—not that I would want to be a dictator." Perhaps the definitive trainers' answer was offered by Leo O'Brien, who simply said, "God."
CARRYING A BIG STICK
Bravo to first baseman Glenn Davis of the Houston Astros for ridding the baseball airwaves of at least a few irritating commercial intrusions. As any fan in Houston can tell you, Astro television announcers greet every Houston home run with a plug for Budweiser beer, which is a sponsor of the broadcasts. "Glenn Davis [or whoever else hit the homer], this Bud's for you!" they proclaim. Davis, a nondrinker who once was nearly killed while in a car involved in an alcohol-related crash, has asked that his home runs no longer be toasted over the air. "I realize I'm a lone wolf on this," says Davis, "but somebody's got to take the responsibility for providing role models for kids. Athletes are in a position where we can do it."
Anheuser-Busch, the maker of Budweiser, said it will comply with Davis's request, but the company must be wishing that some other Astro had asked. Through Sunday, Davis was tied for the National League lead with seven home runs. His teammates had hit a total of six.
WHY THE OBSESSION WITH RACE?
Sybil Smith was an All-America swimmer at Boston University who finished sixth in the 100-yard backstroke at the 1988 NCAA championships. The airing last week of a controversial NBC special, "Black Athletes—Fact & Fiction, "in which some data were adduced to support the claim that blacks are physiologically suited to run faster and jump higher than whites, renewed painful memories for her. Now the assistant women's swimming coach at Harvard, Smith offers these thoughts:
LONG BEFORE THE SHOW HAD GONE OFF THE AIR, I WAS IN TEARS. At times I couldn't even watch it. The show caused me to recall my experiences as a black athlete in a predominantly white sport. Although blacks supposedly can't swim very well—remember former Dodger vice-president Al Campanis's ridiculous remarks about our lack of buoyancy?—all too often I had heard about the supposed physiological advantages black athletes have over whites. Some of my closest friends on the team had rationalized my accomplishments by saying, "You're so lucky that you don't have to work that hard" and "[Swimming is] so natural for you." Their words hurt, but I transformed my pain into a personal mission and became the first All-America swimmer in BU history.
As I watched the show, I wondered why we persist in trying to determine which race is more physiologically suited for sports. Why are we constantly fighting this superiority battle, instead of asking why and how anyone in the human race develops the ability to excel? My own development began as a child, when I was exposed to swimming, golf, tennis, music and ballet. By the time I reached high school, I knew I had a shot at a college swimming scholarship, so I continued to work hard at swimming and my studies. Nothing came easily. My eventual achievements were the result of determination and dedication.
The stereotype used to be that blacks couldn't run long distances. Yet Abebe Bikila, an Ethiopian, won the 1960 and '64 Olympic marathons, and Kip Keino, a Kenyan, won the 1968 Olympic 1,500. Africans now dominate distance events. Some observers have tried to explain these successes by citing physical differences between East and West Africans. As I heard such theories repeated on TV last week, I could only ask why.
Rose's tax probe was confirmed; Giamatti's letter was assailed.
RONALD C. MODRA
[See caption above.]
Smith says that she was driven to tears by NBC's controversial show on black athletes.
THEY SAID IT
•Jeff Torborg, Chicago White Sox manager, when asked about the metal plate inserted in catcher Carlton Fisk's broken right hand: I don't think it will affect his mobility. Electrical storms might be a problem."