A few thoughts:-
• The blockbuster trade that brought the New York Knicks instant credibility in the form of Penny Hardaway and Stephon Marbury was the kind of deal the Blazers could have made a year ago.
People talk about the trading acumen of Bob Whitsitt, but the fact was, he had an owner, Paul Allen, who was willing to pile big salary on top of big salary. The Knicks are willing to do the same thing. Now that Allen has put his checkbook away, the Blazers don't have much flexibility.
But there are still great deals and great players available, as long as you're willing to ship expiring contracts out of town in favor of salary cap-clogging contracts.
• Poor old Pete Rose. Talk about a tragic character, doomed to fail by his own personality defects. He finally fell into that old trap that you always fell for when you were a little kid Ñ you know, tell us the truth and it will go easier on you. It hasn't worked for him, though.
Pete's just not the guy for contrition. He can't sell it. He's too cocky and full of himself to ever say 'I'm sorry' and have anybody believe it.
My position on Rose hasn't changed a bit. He's a scumbag for sure. But so are many others in baseball's Hall of Fame.
I'm growing a little tired of the self-serving moralism of former commissioner Fay Vincent. Baseball Ñ the sport without any significant drug testing Ñ can be so high and mighty sometimes.
Baseball is extraordinarily stuffy about gambling. The NFL found that Alex Karras and Paul Hornung, two very high-profile stars in the 1960s, bet on games and suspended them for just one season. And with as much betting being done on the NFL these days, it's hard for me to believe players aren't gambling on games. I'm not advocating it, I'm not condoning it. I'm just saying that in the real world, gambling is everywhere and the general public long ago accepted it as part of life.
Gambling's growing acceptance Ñ and Americans' willingness to forgive Ñ is a big reason Rose gets a standing ovation everywhere he goes. The public thinks he's already paid enough of a price for an offense they don't think was that big a deal.
Off the field, Rose appears to be what he always has been Ñ a punk. But he was a Hall of Fame baseball player, beyond question. And that's a compelling reason to believe he belongs in the Hall. He probably just doesn't belong in baseball.
• Speaking of the Hall of Fame, a lot of people voting must never have watched these guys play. How else do you explain Dave Parker getting 10 more votes than Dale Murphy?
'They've forgotten about 'Murph' because he wasn't a jerk,' says a friend of mine who used to play in the big leagues.