The Seles Verdict
The question remains as to how much Monica Seles hurt her own case by refusing to cooperate with German authorities in the much-publicized trial that resulted in her attacker walking away with a two-year suspended sentence last week. Seles has a strange, Garboesque penchant for secrecy (witness her appearances in various wigs and disguises after her mysterious withdrawal from Wimbledon in 1991) and according to German authorities did not allow her U.S. doctors to release information about the knife wound inflicted by G�nter Parche, a 39-year-old unemployed lathe operator. The authorities wanted that information to strengthen the charge against Parche, a loner whose obsession with seeing Steffi Graf regain the No. 1 ranking apparently prompted the attack.
As it was, Parche went to trial charged with "causing grievous bodily harm" and not with a more serious charge such as attempted manslaughter. And while Judge Elke Bosse's sentence could have been harsher—a maximum of five years—the suspended sentence was in line with the charge.
Seles's lawyer, Gerhard Strate, claims that a German doctor who examined Seles did give evidence. But even Strate allows that Seles's permission to release the records "arrived somewhat late." That is an understatement, according to the prosecution, which wanted the information months before the trial and got it only the day before.
Neither did Seles appear in court to testify. Her presence might have swayed the judge, who, according to German press reports, showed a disturbing sympathy toward Parche and his orgiastic fantasies about Graf.
Given that the authorities apparently believed his claim that he just wanted to hurt Seles, not kill her, Parche may have been charged only with the lesser count, even with Seles's cooperation. That the sentence reflected the charge does not mean that justice was served. Perhaps that will happen in the appeal process, which has already begun.
Long, Strange Trips
It's bad enough just being a Washington Bullet: You haven't had a winning record in six seasons, you haven't had a trip to the playoffs since 1988, and you will soon be listening to superfan Robin Ficker, the chowderhead who rants and raves at opposing teams from his courtside seat at the Capital Centre.
But try being a Washington Bullet during the preseason. The Bullets' all-on-the-road exhibition express includes stops at Illinois State's Redbird Arena (a 109-103 loss to the Milwaukee Bucks on Oct. 15); the University of Louisville (against the Chicago Bulls on Oct. 20); the Mark in Moline, Ill. (against the Minnesota Timberwolves on Oct. 21); the Mobile (Ala.) Civic Center (against the Philadelphia 76ers on Oct. 24); the Charleston (W.Va.) Civic Center (against the L.A. Lakers on Oct. 26); North Carolina State's Reynolds Coliseum in Raleigh (against the Bucks on Oct. 28); and the Pyramid Arena in Memphis (against the Bulls on Oct. 30).
The 76ers, the Seattle SuperSonics and the New Jersey Nets do not play a single home exhibition game, either, simply because they cannot entice the home fans to come out, that task being difficult enough during the regular season. Better to accept a guarantee (something like $50,000) from an outside promoter than to take a bath on a home game. The outfits that stage these odd preseason matchups obviously try to make them as attractive as possible. For example, Washington's coach, Wes Unseld, and its center, Pervis Ellison, have Louisville ties, and the Oct. 28 Raleigh stop is a " Tom Gugliotta game" in honor of the Bullet forward who's an NC State product. But most of the time Washington is the "designated opponent," like in Charleston, where West Virginia legend Jerry West, the Lakers' general manager, will receive the key to the city.