Thursday, January 30, 2003

How can Selig reinstate Rose now?


Pete remains his own worst enemy

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On Sept. 23, the night of the celebrity softball game that closed Cinergy Field, Pete Rose attended the same party as Mike Bertolini. In 2003, Bertolini might be as pure as a bar of Ivory soap. In 1987, he was a middleman between Rose and a New York bookie, according to the report authored by Major League Baseball's investigator, John Dowd.

Rose denied to Dowd that Bertolini placed bets for him; Bertolini wouldn't talk to Dowd.

Rose might not have said two words to Bertolini in September at The Waterfront restaurant after the softball game. It doesn't matter. If you are Pete Rose and you are fighting for your baseball citizenship, why are you seen anywhere with Mike Bertolini?

On his way back home, Rose keeps tripping. One newspaper had him gambling at a Las Vegas casino last week and frequenting the sports book of a Vegas hotel. This was within days of an Enquirer report saying Rose owes $151,690 in back taxes.

How can someone be gambling, supposedly, when he owes the IRS six figures?

At best, Rose is guilty of incredibly bad judgment. At worst, Rose has a problem he needs to get fixed before reinstatement is an option.

It's amazing. Just as he should be edging closer to his own peculiar form of grace, Rose is throwing banana peels in his path. Rose was never self-destructive, even as a big bettor. He didn't bet to hurt himself. He did it for the juice. Thirteen years later, the impression persists that he can't help himself.

How can commissioner Bud Selig reinstate Rose now?

The deal with former commissioner Bart Giamatti was that Rose should change his life. By all appearances, he hasn't. If he apologizes now for betting on the game, who will believe him? Who beyond the hero-worshipping toadies would see it as anything but transparent?

I'm sorry I gambled on the game. Now if you'll excuse me, Vegas awaits. Have you met Mike?

A person close to the investigation believes Selig will offer Rose some sort of pardon, probably in the next four to six weeks. But it will be so loaded with conditions, Rose might never pass the audition.

Selig has made a sincere attempt to bring Rose back. He must be wondering about his intentions now.

Nobody knows how this will turn out. Rose could cop to betting on baseball, apologize and admit he has a serious gambling problem. Maybe he does, maybe he doesn't. But hanging around the gaming tables, supposedly, when you're in deep with the taxman isn't a sign you're in control of your life.

Selig could make Rose apologize and bring him back only so his name appears on the Hall of Fame ballot. Once reinstated, Rose could work in the game without affecting it on the field. Broadcasting, maybe, though not on the radio, at least not here.

"Would I be in favor of him in the radio booth? No," Marty Brennaman said Wednesday. "He can't do play-by play. I don't intend to do nine innings of play-by-play so Pete Rose can be in the radio booth. I'm going to have some say in who gets this job (when Joe Nuxhall retires). If my say means anything, it won't be Pete Rose."

Nothing is clear but this: Nobody has sabotaged

Rose's return but Rose. I wanted Rose back in baseball, because he belongs in the Hall of Fame and because 13 years is sufficient penance, especially given that baseball has used Rose in deals with sponsors. That position came with a belief Rose would do his part, or make an effort. Recent revelations suggest he hasn't.

I don't want an apology from Rose. I want an admission that gambling is a problem he needs to fix. I'd guess Selig feels the same.

It is time for Rose to earn our compassion.

E-mail pdaugherty@enquirer.com




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