Wednesday, March 14, 2007

The hurdle Pete Rose refuses to leap

Pete Rose created a stir today by taking another stab at framing his gambling on baseball in such a way that misty-eyed higherups couldn't help but reinstate the banned all-time hits leader.

Appearing on the Dan Patrick Show on ESPN Radio, the all-time hits leader not only restated that he bet on baseball - the one violation that carries the sport's version of the death penalty. Rose said he did so every day when he managed the Cincinnati Reds, betting on his own team.

This revelation was Rose's way of doing his part to christen the Reds' new Pete Rose exhibit on display at the Great American Ballpark, the home of the NL team's Hall of Fame. But when he said:

"I bet on my team every night. I didn't bet on my team four nights a week. I was wrong [referring to his previous mea culpa in a book he authored a while back]. ... I bet on my team to win every night because I love my team, I believe in my team," Rose told Dan Patrick as well as on-air questioner Keith Ohlbermann. "I did everything in my power every night to win that game."

By failing to mix in the slightest bit of contrition with the always present self-importance, Rose did little more than illuminate just how much he violated the public trust.

So, nice try, Pete, but no cigar. Because you still don't get it. And apparently you never will as long as your ego prevents you from uttering two little words:

"I'm sorry."

So a return to the game's good graces remains improbable. It can never be less than that if Rose refuses to show remorse. Thus far, he hasn't come close, something that continues to be the underlying tragedy of this flawed, flawed man.

No one understands that flaw better than Fay Vincent, the man who led the investigation into Rose and the one violation that carries baseball's version of the death penalty. Vincent, who gathered the evidence of Rose's betting on baseball when deputy to then-commissioner Bart Giamatti, yesterday reiterated the obvious.

"The beginning of contrition is to feel that you regret your actions, and he does not have it in him to do so," said Vincent. "It's the meaning of it that he does not get.

"Bill Clinton figured it out. Richard Nixon figured it out. The American public is very forgiving if you say you're sorry. Pete cannot bring himself to utter the words."

Citing Rose's penchant for chiding baseball's lack of a ban on abuser's of illegal or performance-enhancing drugs, Vincent added "It's always about other people's problems, never his own."

So Rose sits on the outside, looking in, wondering, why not Barry Bonds when it comes to bans, and likely more to the point, why Joe Torre and not him when it comes to multimillion manager's salaries.

Rose may be an adroit gambler, but he has a lousy poker face. That much was evident when he revealed his obvious motive when he told the ESPN audience that individual team owners should be allowed to decide if they want him to manage their major league clubs.

"[It's] all about dollars, Dan and Keith," he said, before going on to suggest no owner even bother to call him if they didn't want their team to win.

Reread the first part that thought, friends. Because that may be the most honest thing Pete Rose has ever said.

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