STEP DOWN, PETE
We think Pete Rose should step down as Cincinnati Reds manager—with pay—until the baseball-betting allegations against him are fully addressed by Rose himself, by baseball commissioner Bart Giamatti and, to the extent necessary, by the judicial system. The Rose case has become a sorry spectacle that each day inflicts further damage upon both Rose and baseball. He cannot enjoy being pilloried by the press or take pleasure in diminishing the game to which he has contributed so much. By benching himself he could not only do his sport a service but also concentrate his energies on rebutting the serious accusations against him.
Contrary to what Cincinnati judge Norbert Nadel said in barring, at least temporarily, Rose's hearing before Giamatti, the commissioner has bent over backward to be fair to Rose. It has been known for months that Rose consorted with gamblers, bookies and drug dealers, and on those grounds alone Giamatti could have—and perhaps should have—suspended him. Most of these unsavory characters were not passing acquaintances of Rose's; they hung out with him at his house, at Gold's Gym in suburban Cincinnati, at racetracks and even in the Reds clubhouse. Baseball is justifiably resolute in trying to fend off gamblers and drug dealers and their influence, and Rose betrayed the game by bringing such influence into the clubhouse.
As for the baseball-betting allegations, they have not been substantiated in a court of law, but the evidence against Rose is persuasive. His defense is his word; he says he never bet on baseball. But during baseball's four-month investigation of him, Rose has been caught in several lies and contradictions. At times he has seemed almost arrogant in shrugging off the gambling accusations against him.
July 9, 1989
In putting together its 225-page investigative report on Rose, baseball came up with nine people who linked him to baseball betting, and it found phone records, betting sheets and other documents that appear to support the testimony of Rose's chief accusers. This evidence cannot be dismissed. It is sufficient, at the very least, to taint Rose—for now—with the appearance of impropriety. And that is reason enough for him to step aside temporarily as Cincinnati's manager.
MANAGING FINE, THANKS
The three-game series in Baltimore last week between the Orioles and the Blue Jays was the first meeting in major league history between two teams with black managers. Baltimore, managed by Frank Robinson, won two of the three games from Cito Gaston-skippered Toronto, and afterward Robinson and Gaston both said they looked forward to the day when black managers will be abundant enough in baseball that their color will no longer be news. By the way, when the series ended, Baltimore led the American League East by 6½ games, and Toronto was in third place, just a half game out of second.
ANYTHING FOR A GOOD SHOT
For two months before the event, they ride bicycles, lift weights and brace themselves for their most grueling challenge of the year. We're talking about the two ABC television cameramen assigned to cover the 23-day Tour de France. When the 76th Tour began last Saturday in Luxembourg, cameramen Ken Woo and Pascal Charpentier climbed onto the back of a pair of motorcycles driven by Alain Girbal and Patrice Diallo and, seven-pound cameras in hand, set off on what has become an annual adventure. "I've shot other dangerous events—mountain climbs and white-water trips—but nothing that's so fatiguing and risk filled, day after day," says Woo. "Until you're in the middle of it, you can't even imagine it."
Imagine this: 32 motorcycles bearing TV cameramen and still photographers jockeying for position alongside 220 or so bicyclists traveling as fast as 60 mph over narrow, hilly, winding roads with crowds pressing in and crashes a possibility at any moment. "You have to be your own tripod and a human shock absorber," says Woo, who lives in Wheaton, Md., and is covering his fourth Tour. (Charpentier, a Parisian, is on his seventh.) "We ride a BMW 1000—half dirt bike, half road bike. It's narrow, with strong brakes and quick acceleration. You're on there seven or eight hours a day."
The race is equally tough on still photographers, with one exception: They can dart in, take some shots and then ease back, while the TV cameramen have to keep the race in steady focus. At times cameramen and photographers alike can be found leaning off their motorcycles, perched on one leg, inches from calamity, shooting away.
Considering that in addition to all the motorcycles and competitors, there are about 45 equipment trucks—one of which was run off a cliff during last year's race and landed in a treetop—and at least 15 other support vehicles, it's remarkable that the Tour doesn't turn into a demolition derby.
FISH OR FOUL?
A report released last week by the National Wildlife Federation (NWF) offers disturbing news about the toxicity of fish in Lake Michigan. It says that eating only one large lake trout from the lake puts a person in a cancer-risk category deemed "unacceptable" by the Environmental Protection Agency. A person who eats as few as 11 of the trout in a lifetime faces a 1-in-10,000 risk of cancer, according to the report. That is, out of 10,000 people who eat that many fish, one person who wouldn't otherwise get cancer would contract the disease.
The report also says that eight meals of Lake Michigan brown trout in a lifetime place a person in the unacceptable cancer-risk category. And because the eating of fish containing toxins increases the risk of birth defects, the NWF recommends that women of childbearing age stay away from all six species studied in its report—lake and brown trout, chinook and coho salmon, yellow perch and walleye.
The report drew criticism from Midwestern health officials and people involved with Lake Michigan's $4.8-billion-a-year sport-fishing business. "All it's going to do is confuse the public on an already complex issue," says Lee Liebenstein, a toxic-substance specialist in Wisconsin's Department of Natural Resources. The confusion comes because Wisconsin. Michigan, Illinois and Indiana have issued a less stringent Lake Michigan fish advisory. For instance, it warns women of child-bearing age only against eating large trout or large salmon.
Curiously, the states and the NWF used the same toxicity data to arrive at different conclusions. Why the difference? The states' warnings are based upon U.S. Food and Drug Administration standards, which allow higher levels of contamination; the FDA set these looser regulations to avoid unreasonably harming the commercial fishing industry. The NWF, by contrast, applied stricter EPA standards. As Mark Van Putten, who oversaw the NWF's two-year study at the Great Lakes Natural Resources Center in Ann Arbor, Mich., puts it, "These really give an idea if it's wise to eat a fish."
The NWF also went beyond the usual practice of analyzing one poison at a time. It assessed how four persistent toxins found in Lake Michigan—PCBs, DDT, dieldrin and chlordane—could work together to make a fish dangerous to eat, even when any one of them might not be present in a concentration high enough to warrant a warning. A sobering note: Although the report analyzed only four toxins, more than 100 poisonous chemicals are present in Lake Michigan.
Lake Michigan fishermen—and people who might consume their catch—will have to decide for themselves whether to follow the states' advisory or the NWF's. Either way, as NWF president Jay Hair says, "The long-term solution is not to stop fishing but to stop the pollution."
A WORLD OF OPPORTUNITY
Staff writer Peter King filed this report after accompanying former Dallas Cowboy general manager Tex Schramm on a tour of possible sites for the NFL's new spring league:
In April new Dallas owner Jerry Jones swept almost everything out of the Cowboys' front office, including Schramm's authority, so Schramm quit the club he had built and hyped and loved for 30 years. Fortunately for him, and perhaps for the future of his sport, a new opportunity presented itself. Network television officials, who are always seeking reasonably priced non-baseball sports programming in the spring, had asked the NFL in January if the league could begin April-to-June football by 1990. The NFL gave Schramm three months and $1.4 million in seed money to find out if the idea—which included teams based overseas—could work. He thus became president of the World League of American Football (WLAF).
Schramm scouted European cities in late May and early June, and two weeks ago he visited five Sun Belt towns—Birmingham; Orlando, Fla.; Jacksonville; Charlotte, N.C.; and Nashville—in a 48-hour whirlwind tour. He is looking for North American cities willing to host an uncertain entity with no marquee players, rather than for cities looking to use the WLAF as a stepping-stone to the NFL. For that reason, Jacksonville, which has been an NFL bridesmaid several times, and Charlotte, which is particularly eager to join the NFL after the success of its NBA Hornets, are probably too ambitious for the WLAF.
On the other hand, Birmingham showed just the right attitude. A thousand local residents greeted Schramm at the airport and chanted, "We want a team! We want a team!" Orlando and its business community also left a good impression by promising that a WLAF team would get carte blanche treatment. But the best presentation was made by Nashville. Johnny Cash even left his wife June's 60th birthday celebration for two hours to meet Schramm's chartered jet.
The WLAF still needs approval by the NFL owners, TV contracts worth at least $20 million and owners and operators willing to take a risk on teams with rosters of second-line players making an average salary of $40,000. Schramm, however, has no doubts that the league will be ready to play next spring. One possible lineup: WLAF Europe—Barcelona, Frankfurt, London, Milan; WLAF East—Birmingham, Montreal, New York, Orlando; WLAF West—Mexico City, Nashville, Sacramento, San Antonio.
AN HONEST KID
Organized youth baseball is all too often ruined by pushy parents and overbearing coaches. But here's a story to restore one's faith.
At a T-ball game in Wellington, Fla., earlier this year, first baseman Tanner Munsey, 7, fielded a ground ball and tried to tag a runner going from first base to second. The umpire, Laura Benson, called the runner out, but Tanner immediately approached her and said, "Ma'am, I didn't tag the runner." Benson awarded the runner second base and Tanner's coach gave him the game ball for his honesty.
In a game two weeks later, with Benson again umpiring and Tanner playing shortstop, a similar play occurred. This time Benson thought Tanner had missed the tag on a runner going to third, and she called the runner safe. Tanner glanced at Benson and, without saying a word, flipped the ball to the catcher and returned to his position. Benson sensed something was wrong. "Did you tag the runner?" she asked Tanner.
"Yes," he replied.
Benson then called the runner out. The opposing coaches protested until she explained what had happened two weeks earlier. Says Benson, "If a kid is that honest, I have to give it to him. T-ball is supposed to be for the kids."
A NEW AND GLORIOUS ARLINGTON
Four years ago this month, an electrical fire broke out at arlington Park racetrack in Arlington Heights, Ill., and burned the grandstand and clubhouse to the ground. The once-glorious Arlington track became a tents-and-bleachers operation with shrinking attendance. Its plummeting betting handle cost the state millions in tax revenue.
On June 28, after 19 months of construction, a new facility called Arlington International Racecourse opened on the spot where the old track had stood for 58 years. The new Arlington, built by owner Dick Duchossois at a cost estimated at $120 million, is spectacular. "I've seen virtually every major track in the world, and this one is light-years ahead of them," says Nick Clarke, managing director of the International Racing Bureau. Says jockey Pat Day, who won the first two races at the new track, "It kind of takes your breath away."
The 25,000-seat grandstand, though smaller than the old one by about 5,000 seats, is far more luxurious. Box seats have teak railings, and most floors are marble. There are eight restaurants, a picnic area for 6,000, sky boxes, waterfalls and a five-tiered balcony overlooking a European-style paddock. Fans can learn about racing at an interactive computer and exhibit center, and they can admire a larger-than-life-sized bronze sculpture of John Henry edging his rival The Bart in the thrilling finish of the inaugural Arlington Million in 1981.
The old Arlington was known for innovation and speed. It was the first track to install an all-electric tote board (1933) and to air-condition its grandstand (1946), and it was the site of Dr. Fager's 1:32[1/5] mile in 1968. a world record that still stands. The new facility continues those traditions. Its polyurethane-shield-ed track railings are said to be the safest in existence, and the scoreboard shows an unprecedented variety of wagering information. The one-mile turf course and 1‚Äö√Ñ√∂‚àö√±‚àö¬µ-mile dirt oval have both been resurfaced and appear to be fast.
Duchossois wanted to build a parklike, almost Disneylandesque facility, not, he says, "a glass-and-steel, monument-style box," and he has succeeded. He hopes the track will draw a million spectators during its 95-day racing season, which on Sept. 3 will feature the ninth running of the Arlington Million.
THEY SAID IT
•Johnny Kerr, Chicago Bulls announcer, on 7'4", 290-pound Utah Jazz center Mark Eaton: "If you go to the movies with him, you get in for half price."