VOL. 130 | NO. 246 | Friday, December 18, 2015
The Press Box
Redemption Unreachable as Pete Rose Keeps Screwing Up
By Don Wade
In the TV commercial, banished Hit King Pete Rose is walking down a hallway lined with trophies and baseball memorabilia. His stated purpose: to promote Skechers Relaxed Fit shoes.
Anything for a buck, right, Charlie Hustle?
Anyway, his fiancee/Playboy model Kiana Kim sticks her head out of a doorway and says, “Pete, you’re not supposed to be in the hall.”
To which Rose replies: “Even at home?”
Laugh every time.
Baseball Commissioner Rob Manfred, not so much.
This week, Manfred upheld Rose’s lifetime ban from the game for betting on baseball as a player and manager. The ban has been in effect since 1989, or since Kim was 9 years old.
Rose, 74, reacted to his latest whiff just the way you would have expected: by holding a press conference in Las Vegas, gambling’s Cooperstown.
At one point, Rose joked that he spends so much time promoting and watching the game that he “should actually be commissioner of baseball.”
He also did his usual victim routine, an act so tired he should play a lounge at a Nebraska Ramada Inn and not the outdoor patio stage he used on the Vegas Strip.
“I’m a good guy, to be honest with you,” Rose said. “I tried to be as honest as I could with the commissioner, but I made some mistakes and I clarified them. Some of his questions, though, I kind of panicked.”
Alternate interpretation: Pete lied and got caught. Again.
Remember, Rose spent almost 15 years of his banishment from baseball swearing he never bet on the game he loves so much yet continually abuses. In 2004, he admitted to betting on baseball while managing the Cincinnati Reds. But ESPN’s T.J. Quinn, in an “Outside the Lines” report from earlier this year, revealed documentation from a former Rose associate that showed Rose had bet on baseball as far back as 1986 when he was still playing.
The ban and Manfred’s decision to keep it in place means Rose can’t do what steroid cheats Mark McGwire and Barry Bonds will be doing next season, and as McGwire has done for some time: work as a big-league coach.
Not that any team would employ Rose, at his age, as a full-time coach. But if he wasn’t banned the Reds might find a way to use him, in uniform, in a more limited capacity if he would sell tickets.
And even now, he would.
For the record, I don’t agree wholly with Manfred’s ruling. Rose should never be in uniform and in a coaching box or in a dugout during a major league game again, with that I agree.
But I disagree with the notion he can’t be in uniform providing hitting or base running instruction before the game. He should be allowed to earn a living if someone wants to hire him, provided he’s not trying to give analysis on camera during baseball’s postseason.
Manfred, by the way, doesn’t decide if Rose ever gets on baseball’s Hall of Fame ballot that goes before writers or is brought up before the Veterans Committee. That’s entirely up to the Hall’s Powers That Be.
Neither is likely to happen in his lifetime, and I’m fine with that. America loves a good redemption story, sure, but you can’t keep screwing up the story.
Still not welcome in baseball or the Hall, Pete Rose, sadly, is just a case of life imitating 30-second commercial art:
The All-Star Huckster in his relaxed fit shoes.
Don Wade’s column appears weekly in The Daily News and The Memphis News. Listen to Wade on “Middays with Greg & Eli” every Tuesday at noon on Sports 56 AM and 87.7 FM.