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Tuesday, January 06, 2004

Boswell: Rose Has Changed Nothing

Pete Rose has written a blockbuster new book about his life in which he finally admits he gambled on baseball while managing the Cincinatti Reds, after 14 years of public denials. Charley Hustle no doubt believes that this public admission of guilt will unlock the doors of the Hall of Fame and possibly allow him to manage a team again. Initial public reaction indicates that fans hope for the same thing.

Allowing Rose back in the game is a big mistake, though, and his public admission appears to be not only less than heartfelt but less than complete as well.

Thomas Boswell agrees with this assessment in today's Washington Post, and Boswell reminds us that Rose strung us all along for 14 years of denials and counteraccusations, both from himself and his many proxies:

"I'm sure that I'm supposed to act all sorry or sad or guilty now that I've accepted that I've done something wrong. But you see, I'm just not built that way," wrote Rose. "So let's leave it like this: I'm sorry it happened and I'm sorry for all the people, fans and family it hurt. Let's move on."

No, let's stay right here.

As Boswell notes, Rose uses an odd construction: it happened, it hurt. Not I did, I hurt, as if the gambling was a third-party action imposed on him, or the 14-year war he waged on baseball's management and investigators was something completely separate. This makes complete sense if you combine that with the first part of this statement: I'm not built to feel guilt. This pathology is more commonly known as sociopathy, a lack of conscience and empathy, in which the only person in the world who truly exists is the sociopath and everything else just happens. Rose manages to make his "admission" scarier than anything else he's ever done before.

Rose continues to deny that he bet on the Reds while managing the team, something that John Dowd found ample evidence to prove in his investigation. This is no mere technicality. While gambling on baseball at all risks a lifetime suspension from the game strictly for hygienic purposes, gambling on one's own team -- whether to win or lose -- calls into question the credibility of these games and possibly puts players at risk. As a manager who bet heavily on your team to win a particular game, Rose could have played each of these games like Game 7 of the World Series. Overtaxing key pitchers, such as allowing an ace starting pitcher to go too long or start with inadequate rest or throwing in a reliever too quickly or too soon after a long stretch in a previous game, could cause arm and shoulder problems. Not only that, but it could cause these players to be unavailable in later games unnecessarily. And on games he didn't bet on at all, gamblers could easily have deduced that he would do a lot less to win, saving his resources for another game he thought he could win and on which he could bet heavily. This doesn't even take into account the possibility that by running up significant debt, he could be pressured into throwing games later by criminal elements.

Fay Vincent also agrees with Boswell and counsels Bud Selig to wait for Rose to demonstrate actual contrition and life changes before considering Rose's reinstatement:

So far, Vincent doesn't see signs of a reconfigured Rose life. In fact, he says, there is "every evidence" that Rose is still a conspicuous gambler. "We were misguided [in 1989]. We thought he would be contrite. It just wasn't in him. I wish he were more contrite even now. John Dowd [who headed baseball's investigation] is owed a big apology," said Vincent, adding that Rose even hurt those who tried to defend him. Vincent cites one well-known baseball author who "wrote five pages about how there was 'not a shred of evidence' in the Dowd report" and another "who excoriated us for running roughshod over Pete's rights. Where are those people today?"

Boswell ends his article with a reference to Shoeless Joe Jackson, who still has not been reinstated to the active list so that he can be posthumously added to the Hall of Fame. However, Jackson's case differs in many ways from Rose's. Jackson actually threw games and accepted money for it (not all of his supposed conspirators ever saw a dime), although at the same time Jackson confessed and returned the money, honestly contrite over what had happened. Jackson, along with the other Black Sox and all of their teammates, were being exploited shamelessly by their owner, Charles Comiskey. Most of all, Jackson never operated his entire career under The Rule as Pete Rose did. While I don't think you can compare Jackson's reinstatement to Rose's request, the one thing that Pete can't ever say was that he wasn't warned of the consequences of betting on baseball.

Rose has sullied his reputation, lied repeatedly, leveled false accusations against baseball management directly and through his many proxies, and damaged the integrity of the game. His sociopathic "admission of guilt" should only serve to shame himself and those supporters who claimed that baseball had no evidence of any transgression on Rose's part. If this is the best Rose can do after fourteen years of being locked out -- a smirking half-truth served up with the spin of victimhood, all to make a fortune from the saps who cheered his defiance during his exile -- then let Rose have his profits and continue to watch baseball on TV.

Addendum: The Los Angeles Times also weighs in on this in an editorial today, "No Hustle to Reinstate Rose":

Rose recognizes that his best bet (pun intended) to enter Cooperstown is being elected by sportswriters, because many scribes who saw him play arguably would be inclined to recognize him for his amazing on-field accomplishments. But players only qualify for the sportswriters' ballot for 20 years after their last game — which for Rose was in 1986. After 2006, Rose would face the decidedly tougher challenge of being elected to the hall by his fellow players — some of whom have publicly said they wouldn't vote for Rose.

Whew. Now Rose's timing makes more sense.

To borrow one from Instapundit -- indeed.

UPDATE: Deacon at Power Line also takes a swing at this.

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05:54 AM in Sports | Permalink


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