January 23, 2003

Keep Rose Out

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For fans that dread the six-month winter hiatus, this baseball off-season has certainly filled the void. The break-up of Tom and Greg, the Puerto Rico Expos, the elimination of diapers in the clubhouse, shorter games — the list goes on.

Perhaps the most interesting development since Game Seven has been the potential admission of guilt by Pete Rose. Rose’s fame does not lie in the fact that he is the league’s all-time hits leader, but rather due to his notoriously shady dealings while managing the Cincinnati Reds that led to his lifetime ban from baseball.

No doubt, ask someone on the street and he is more likely to link Pete with gambling than with hitting.

Despite the fact that officials currently hold in their gloves betting slips with Rose’s handwriting and thumbprint on them, Rose has vehemently denied any wrongdoing.

There are numerous phone calls made between Rose, his gambling friend, and gambling contacts just prior to game time, but he says they were harmless.

There are also bank records, an allegation that Rose ran up a tab of half a million dollars in unpaid dues to a pair of New York City bookies, 412 baseball wagers over a span of three months, and a signed document between A. Bartlett Giamatti, the baseball commissioner in 1989, and Rose detailing Giamatti’s factual basis for Rose’s lifetime ban.

Despite that John Hancock, he maintains his innocence.

Apparently, however, that 13-year refutation may be put to rest in the next few months, according to a report in yesterday’s Newsday. A close friend of Rose, who has met several times with commissioner Bud Selig over the past two months to discuss reinstatement, told the newspaper that he is willing to admit he bet on baseball. His admission would be the first of three steps Selig has outlined in negotiations that would lead to his reinstatement. Following admission, Rose must apologize and serve probation for “six to eight months,” according to a high-ranking baseball official.

Supposedly, his admission could come as early as spring training, which would allow enough time for him to be placed on the 2004 Hall of Fame ballot.

The executives responsible for selecting the Cooperstown candidates ultimately decide who appears on the ballot, but purportedly are merely waiting for reinstatement to include his name.

I’m willing to bet that Pete wants back in baseball to get his grubby paws in more gambling.

Jim Kaat, Rose’s pitching coach in 1985, said that he and his manager shared a love for betting and would do so together at the racetrack.

For Kaat, however, it was a hobby. For Rose, according to Kaat, “there was probably a bit of an addiction there, a compulsion that I didn’t have that he did.” Old habits are hard to break.

Rose is also hoping that with reinstatement will come a career in the sport. Honestly, though, what team would actually hire a man that for 13 years denied that he gambled in the face of evidence that would have committed even “money-bags” Simpson?

And what about the 14 other guys who were banned from baseball for gambling? Are they still out or are they just not in because they do not have as impressive stats as Rose?

For all those who believe that Rose should be reinstated if he admits he did it, do you think that if murderers on trial admitted they did it and said they were sorry that they should be allowed back into the very domain where they committed the crime in the first place?

A stretch, perhaps, but no one would agree to setting murderers free, so how is that different from Rose’s situation? I will end with this comment Rose gave in response to being questioned if he got a thrill from gambling: “To be honest with you, I couldn’t watch it if I didn’t bet on it.” Whenever Rose was in the dugout or in the stadium, he was watching, so his own statement indicates he was betting too.

If Rose does admit fault, he will be reinstated. Selig had a rough 2002 and needs a popularity boost. So, instead of upholding the rules and maintaining the holiness of baseball, the front office will bow to the public and give it an official Hall of Famer.

Attendance is declining, isn’t it?

Archived article by Katherine Granish