Saturday, January 29, 2000

Rose swings, misses with book pitch




BY TIM SULLIVAN
The Cincinnati Enquirer

        Column as I see 'em:

        • By his own admission, Pete Rose has written more books than he's read. He needs to start reading his own more carefully.

        In a proposal for “Pardon Me” — the latest Rose rumination — the exiled Hit King offers $1 million to anyone with “concrete evidence” that he bet on baseball. Yet in an interview with the New York Daily News, Rose said, “I never made that offer. I don't have a million dollars, so how could I offer it?”

        If Pete Rose is not on the same page as his ghostwriter, it is possible they will find common ground and/or a publisher. But if Rose doesn't have a million dollars after all the money he's made, it can only be because he's blown it betting.

        • Another author who should proofread his own prose is Jim Bunning, the pitcher-turned-politician. Kentucky's junior Senator took issue recently with my assertion that he twice asked to have his name removed from the Hall of Fame ballot.

        Bunning said that if I had read his book, I would know better. Oddly enough, I did read his book. The pertinent passage is on Page 11: “That (1978) was the second time Bunning asked to have his name removed from the ballot, and the second time he was talked out of it.”

        • Today's wish: If Bobby Knight has any cause to treat Steve Alford with contempt, I'd sure like to hear about it. If not, I'd sure like The General to shut his trap. No one in sports can be so virtuous and so vile as the Indiana University basketball coach.

        • As if Carl Pickens weren't headache enough, the possibility that signing him to a long-term contract could cost the Bengals their “franchise” player tag for four more years is too cruel to contemplate.

        How much worse could things get if an arbitrator strips Mike Brown of the ability to retain key players against their will? What prominent player would stay with the Bengals if he were free to go somewhere (anywhere) else?

        According to recent rankings by Sport magazine, the Bengals qualify as the “Siberia” of American sport. The only worse place to play, the magazine says, is anywhere in Canada.

        • Cincinnati heavyweight Larry Donald turned 33 this month, and he may be running out of time for a legitimate title shot. The former Olympian no longer captures anyone's imagination and his knockout of Jeff Lally last month was his first in more than two years.

        Donald's record is 36-1-1, bloated by meaningless bouts against overmatched opponents. He is scheduled to headline a Direct TV card on Feb.29 in Las Vegas, but his opponent has yet to be identified. He hasn't fought a top contender since his ignominious 1994 loss to Riddick Bowe. “The goal here is to have a legitimate challenger emerge from our roster of heavyweight contenders and Larry Donald at No.4 in the IBF certainly is in that mix,” said Greg Fritz of Don King Productions. “If Larry is in training on a regular basis, then he's as good as any of these top-flight heavyweights.”

        When Donald is not in training he tends to balloon. He weighed in at a career-high 250 pounds for his June 12 bout with Marion Wilson.

        • The Reds ought to retire Tony Perez' No.24, but that number is also synonymous with Ken Griffey Jr. Solution: Give the Big Dog his due. If a Griffey deal ever gets done, Junior can demonstrate his class by insisting on another number. No team should neglect its past in order to pander to the present.

        • Tom Osborne, the former Nebraska football coach, is running for Congress. He's ostensibly a Republican, but his record says “Soft on crime.” Remember Lawrence Phillips dragging his girlfriend down the steps? If I were running against Osborne, I'd never let voters forget it.

        • I never thought Ruben Patterson had much of a future in the NBA. He was a below-average ball handler at the University of Cincinnati, a below-average outside shooter and was prone to indifferent defense.

        Yet Patterson has become a slashing staple of the Seattle SuperSonics. He's averaging almost 12 points per game and, the Sonics are 28-14 with him in the starting lineup. So much for my career as a scout.

        • Today's predictions: Tennessee 27, St. Louis 21; too much bean dip.

        Tim Sullivan welcomes your email at tsullivan@enquirer.com.

Rose finally gets foot in baseball's door
SULLIVAN ARCHIVE