SI Vault
Edited by Jack McCallum and Richard O'Brien
June 20, 1994
Listening to Alberto
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June 20, 1994


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Are we sure the bikes can take it?


Dressed in prison-issue denim slacks, white T-shirt, light-blue work shirt and work boots, Mike Tyson looked ready for manual labor when he walked into Judge Patricia J. Gifford's Marion County (Ind.) courtroom on Monday morning for a sentence-reduction hearing. And indeed, the former heavyweight champion proceeded to dig his own grave. Had he admitted that he raped Desiree Washington, the crime of which he was convicted in February 1992, Tyson might have succeeded in his bid for an early end to his prison term. But Tyson wouldn't do it. "I've committed no crime," he said in response to a question from prosecutor Mark Sullivan. "I'm going to stick with that to my grave. I never violated anyone's chastity."

Further, Tyson couldn't show that he had completed any educational program during the 27 months that he has served in the Indiana Youth Center in Plainfield, something else that might have swayed Gifford. He failed the GED, and Gifford, a former schoolteacher, was not pleased when she learned that Tyson had cut some prep classes to receive celebs like Whitney Houston and Spike Lee. She denied his plea and sent him back to jail.

However, Tyson's lawyer James Voyles says that Tyson will take the GED again on June 23. If he passes, he may again request a hearing before Gifford. Even if she denies his request, Tyson must be freed in February 1995, three months earlier than his scheduled release date. Under Indiana law, any inmate who passes the GED gets time off his sentence.

SI reported last week that prosecutors and lawyers for Tyson and Washington were working on a deal that could have sprung Tyson. According to sources, one provision of the deal was that Tyson apologize to Washington. A source says the deal broke down largely because the sides were unable to agree on such an apology.

Gap at Second

Chicago Cub second baseman Ryne Sandberg was the type of player, it seemed, who would go on forever, a between-the-lines gamer who checked his personality (such as it was) at the clubhouse door. In many ways he was a throwback to the major leaguers of the 1930s and '40s—without the tobacco juice and the blue language. He had his detractors, primarily those in the press who tried to wrestle serviceable quotes out of him for the decade that he was one of the game's best players, but they had to admit that Sandberg, the son of a mortician, played baseball with a deadly efficiency.

Even robots and throwbacks gotta have fun, though, and for Sandberg the fun had disappeared, along with his smooth, hit-it-to-all-fields batting stroke and a contending team. So at a Monday press conference the man who would have been the second Mr. Cub, had he been half as exuberant as Ernie Banks, announced his retirement at age 34. "I don't feel I'm currently performing with the focus or to the standards I expect from myself," said Sandberg. "My motivating feelings were to go out and battle and give it all I've got. I don't have it anymore."

Things went so badly so quickly for Sandberg, who had only one hit in his last 28 at bats and was hitting .238 when he quit, that some observers may forget he averaged .309 last season, the second-best mark of his 13-year career. But it was a soft .309—he had only 45 RBIs and nine home runs—and for the first time in his career it could be said that he did not get the job done as a number 3 hitter. Perhaps he never recovered from the fracture he suffered in his left hand when he was hit by a pitch in spring training of '93.

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