Explains the O. J. Simpson trial best?"In the...


March 15, 1995

WHAT SPORT explains the O. J. Simpson trial best?

"In the evanescent argot of the O. J. Simpson phenomenon, the question of the moment is:

"Does F. Lee Bailey still have his fastball? Right ballpark. Wrong metaphor.

"Cross-examination rarely depends on speed. Usually, it calls for junk -- curves, sliders, changeups and, if you're clever enough, the occasional spitter.

"They're the sort of pitches that flirt, dance and deceive before they hit the catcher's mitt with the thud of awful finality.

"In other words, forget Nolan Ryan; think Phil Niekro. . .

"To Miami defense attorney Roy Black, Monday's exchange between Bailey and Fuhrman was 'like a championship fight.

" 'During the first round, the fighters are feeling each other out. Bailey is looking for Fuhrman's weak spots. Bailey scored a point when he floated the theory for the first time that the glove was used to plant the blood in the Bronco.

" 'But, all in all, I thought Fuhrman came off pretty well.' "

-- Harry Weinstein and Tim Rutten in the Los Angeles Times.

"Almost seven months ago, O.J. Simpson's lawyers began a huge effort to try their case in the media, leaking stories accusing Los Angeles Police Detective Mark Fuhrman as a racist who tried to frame the former football star.

"But playing the media game is a risky business. For the leakers gave away Simpson's game plan -- something his old Trojan coaches hated to do. The leaks gave the prosecution [plenty of time] to coach Fuhrman.

". . . So, at day's end, Fuhrman was pretty much unscathed, definitely a tribute to preparation.

-- Bill Boyarsky in the Los Angeles Times.

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