January 05, 2004
Pete Rose finally fesses up

If you've watched any sports on ABC or ESPN recently, you've probably seen the teaser for the Pete Rose interview to be aired on Thursday night in which he's asked the question "did you bet on baseball?" To no one's surprise, Rose will finally admit the truth and answer affirmatively. In doing so, he is hoping to clear the way for his lifetime ban from Major League Baseball to be lifted by Commissioner Selig, and thus for enshrinement in Cooperstown.

I've written before about Pete Rose and the Hall of Fame - see here, here, and here. From what I'm reading here, I don't believe Rose is actually making a sincere and contrite apology. I believe he's doing what he always does, which is whatever he thinks is in his best interest, and that he's hoping it'll be good enough to get what he wants. Obviously, I haven't seen the interview yet, so of course I could be wrong. I will say this - if he doesn't specifically apologize to John Dowd and stipulate that everything in the Dowd Report is the gospel truth, then I don't believe it will amount to a hill of Skoal.

That said, I expect this will settle the matter from MLB's point of view, and as such I won't quibble with Rose's eventual election to the HoF. I've never disputed his inclusion on statistical grounds, just on procedural ones. I will say this, though - if I were in the BBWAA, I'd leave him off the ballot for the first year of eligibility. It took Pete Rose long enough to admit to his crimes. If he winds up having to wait a little longer for the reward he so desperately covets, that's fine by me.

UPDATE: Sometimes I forget that things can happen and people can write about them while I'm distracted from my usual routine. Anyway, Phil Sheridan thinks Rose isn't sincere and doesn't deserve mercy. Former Commissioner Fay Vincent notes that he can feel vindicated by Rose's actions while also doubting their sincerity.

So word is that Pete Rose finally admits in his new book that he bet on baseball. I guess I am supposed to feel vindicated since he spent the last 14 years calling John Dowd and me names. Mr. Dowd was the baseball lawyer who did the investigation of Mr. Rose and prepared a report we're now told was accurate. Next we're likely to have the spectacle of Mr. Rose being embraced by Bud Selig, the baseball commissioner, and, like the Prodigal Son, ushered to the front row of baseball's most honored citizens.

Pardon me while I rise to urge some caution. Ever since St. Augustine set the bar pretty high, there has been a certain style to confessional tomes. Now we have a mea culpa by Mr. Rose and no saint is he. Augustine, having lived it up, saw the light and wrote with a sense of guilt and regret. He even anguished over having stolen a pear. Early reports are that Mr. Rose confronts his past with very little remorse. Between him and Augustine, there is little doubt whose book will live longer.

David Pinto, from whom I got these links, wonders why Charles Gibson is Rose's interviewer and not someone who's more baseball-knowledgeable or at least likely to ask harder questions. He also thinks Rose's Hall induction is not a sure thing.

UPDATE: Danil weighs in on the question of Rose's eventual induction into the HoF.

Posted by Charles Kuffner on January 05, 2004 to Baseball | TrackBack

Doesn't look like Dowd has gotten the apology yet. We'll see if it comes out in the full interview.


Posted by: katy on January 5, 2004 9:27 AM

I'm just wondering if Pete still thinks that he's the best ambassodor to baseball there is in light of this "revelation"?

Posted by: William Hughes on January 5, 2004 9:38 AM

Thanks for the link! The people who believe Rose should be in the Hall of Fame have been the most vocal over the last decade. The people against his enshirenment didn't have to be. I think you will see that dynamic change if Rose is reinstated. As I said in my post, you don't have to convince that many writers to keep Rose out of the hall, only 25%. That's much easier than stopping a Senate cloture vote, which requires 40% of the Senate, and happens all the time.

Posted by: David Pinto on January 5, 2004 9:39 AM

I've always said the problem with the Hall of Fame these days is that people treat it like it's the Hall of Saints. Now we have former commissioner Fay Vincent dismissing Rose's confession as not being remorseful enough and comparing him unfavorably to Saint Augustine. The people who have it out for Rose will never give him any slack and will always raise the bar higher no matter what he does. First he had to just admit to betting on baseball. Now he has to apologize to John Dowd too. It's not enough that he already paid a large fine, served jail time for tax evasion and lost his managing job.
Until Pete Rose is admitted, the Hall of Fame will be little more than a joke in my opinion.

Posted by: Mike Thomas on January 5, 2004 10:16 AM

Your comparison to the Senate is interesting, David, and I agree that induction is not guaranteed if Rose gets reinstated. I think there's a difference, though, in that there's a built-in opposition in the Senate, thus making it easier to deny cloture on issues where there's controversy. I could be wrong, but I don't think there's a real anti-Rose constituency in the BBWAA. I can believe there are enough writers who dislike or disapprove of Rose to deny him admittance, but I'm not quite ready to believe that he's in danger of not getting 75% of the vote.

Posted by: Charles Kuffner on January 5, 2004 10:35 AM

Hill of Skoal. Heh. I like that.

Posted by: Beldar on January 5, 2004 10:57 AM

I don't think the voters have much of a leg to stand on if he is eligible, and they want to keep him out: "Voting shall be based upon the player's record, playing ability, integrity, sportsmanship, character, and contributions to the team(s) on which the player played."

It's not clear to me that his character is out of line with those already inducted, which just leaves integrity....

Maybe if we launch a campaign to the screening committee? After all, they don't have to nominate him - and if he doesn't get nominated the first year, the writers never get a crack at him.

That keeps him out until the new veterans committee gets a crack at him. Stopping that one looks hopeless, since a players time on the ballot never ends. When does the vc get a shot at him?

It actually isn't clear - the rules suggest that no player is vc eligible until 21 years after their last game. But the changes suggest that a player is vc eligible as soon as the writers dismiss him.

Rose retired in 86, so I suppose he could be kept out until 2007.

Posted by: Danil on January 5, 2004 11:46 AM

I am a lifelong baseball fan who has always believed that Rose should NEVER be reinstated and NEVER be in the HOF. What Rose did was unforgivable. Just like Hal Chase back in the early 20th century, he completely knifed the game in the back and has still shown no remorse. Screw him and all his enablers.

Posted by: Smirking Chupacabra on January 5, 2004 11:51 AM

I don't think the voters have much of a leg to stand on if he is eligible, and they want to keep him out: "Voting shall be based upon the player's record, playing ability, integrity, sportsmanship, character, and contributions to the team(s) on which the player played."

True. My point was that while Rose the player is clearly Hall-worthy, there's no law that says I have to help put him in on the first ballot. Cy Young had to wait a year, for example. Not voting for a player in his first year of eligibility may be a dumb tradition, but it's a tradition nonetheless, and it's one I'd lean on if I were a voter faced with Rose's name on the list of candidates.

Posted by: Charles Kuffner on January 5, 2004 12:24 PM

I understand the tradition you are leaning on, but I despise it. It is of the same flavor as failing to consider pitchers for the MVP because "they shouldn't be eligible" even though the guidelines explicitly state that they are.

Posted by: Danil on January 5, 2004 2:22 PM

"...he completely knifed the game in the back and has still shown no remorse. Screw him and all his enablers."

Interesting use of the term 'enabler' meaning someone who helps an addict to maintain their habit. Gambling is an addictive behavior.

Did Rose really "knife the game in the back" by his gambling addiction? Can anyone name a single instance in modern times of a baseball game being thrown or otherwise manipulated by gamblers (with or without a connection to Rose)? Has baseball's credibility really been hurt in recent years by gambling? Or maybe we should be more worried about the effects of performance enhancing drugs and corked bats?
It is a good thing that Rose was caught and punished for gambling. Hopefully it will deter gambling on baseball in the future. But why should it make a difference whether or not to honor Rose for his exemplary playing career that was not affected by his gambling habit?
This is overkill and it is not far removed from trying to impeach Clinton for lying about sex. It's time to move on, folks.

Posted by: Mike Thomas on January 5, 2004 3:06 PM

Regardless of the merits of eligibility or lack thereof, here's a columnist who thinks this is the ultimate act of selfishness on Rose's part. He writes about the timing of the book release and the consequent upstaging of the election announcement of new members to the HOF. I hadn't even thought of that, but he's absolutely right.

Posted by: Linkmeister on January 5, 2004 3:16 PM

I understand the tradition you are leaning on, but I despise it.

To be honest, so do I. I feel dirty contemplating it. I just see no reason to rush Pete Rose into the Hall of Fame, given how long he took to "set the record straight", and if I have to lean on this unlovely habit to express that, then so be it.

Posted by: Charles Kuffner on January 5, 2004 3:39 PM

He bet on baseball,knowing it was against baseball rules. Those rules are posted in every baseball clubhouse,from the lowest minor-league team to the majors. He then lied about it. Let him in AFTER he dies. He wants to be admitted now,to rake in a few more bucks. No way.

Posted by: Palolo lolo on January 5, 2004 9:00 PM

Pete Rose should not be inducted into the HOF because he has gone against the rules and should suffer the concequences by not getting into the HOF. That's a bunch of hoowy. DON'T LET HIM IN!!!

Posted by: Jed on February 9, 2004 1:00 PM

Too bad Cooperstown doesn't have a category for great players never voted in because of a problem, an "except for " wing.

You there, arguing over your beer! Pete Rose was a great player whether he's in Cooperstown or not.
You can't vote greatness upon someone, only recognize the greatness that is there.
Now go home to your family.

Except for drugs, Daryl Strawberry's. Except for race, Satchell Paige. Except for gambling, Shoeless Joe Jackson and Pete Rose.
Have patience. Pete Rose's chances are a lot better than Shoeless Joes. Wait 50 years.

Posted by: paul sanford on August 30, 2004 2:35 PM

Please excuse my abuse of the system by accidently posting multiples of my entry as I tried to edit it.

I am a first time user and I acted in ignorance.

Please take me seriously in the future, if you ever would have.

ssel didn't accept his induction. What more can one more honor make? It's just a way to hype the game.

Posted by: paul sanford on August 30, 2004 2:45 PM