By John Erardi
The Cincinnati Enquirer
Pete Rose could be reinstated before Major League Baseball's All-Star break in July, but not before Opening Day, a baseball official close to the Rose case told the Enquirer Tuesday.
Before the end of spring training, Rose will meet with Baseball's chief executive officer, Bob DuPuy, the official said. But any potential deal, and a necessary follow-up meeting with Baseball Commissioner Bud Selig to sign off on the deal, would be too complicated to complete in the next two weeks.
Selig leaves in two weeks for Japan, where he'll be for a week.
Rose's friends say he wants to manage a Major League Baseball team again, and that could be a sticking point for baseball officials.
Rose managed the Reds from August 1984 to August 1989, when he was permanently banned from baseball for his involvement with gamblers.
"Being allowed to manage again is what this really is all about," said the baseball official. "It isn't about becoming the roving hitting instructor for the Cincinnati Reds. And it isn't about the Hall of Fame," even though if Rose were to be reinstated he would automatically become eligible for the Hall.
Whatever happens, it won't be settled by Opening Day.
"There's just too much to be worked out," said the official, who asked that his name not be used. "Sometime between Opening Day and the All-Star break is more like it now. There were just too many bumps in the road. And there is still a lot of negotiating to be done."
Rose's friends confirm the baseball official's characterization of the Rose case. Rose wants to manage again someday. It's where the action is, and it's where the money is. Rose craves both.
"My sense of it is that he'd like to manage again," said Cincinnati restaurateur Jeff Ruby, a friend of Rose. "Allowing him back into the game, but not allowing him to manage is like telling Sinatra you can go to the concerts but you can't sing ... If an agreement is worded in such a way that Pete isn't precluded from ever managing again someday, I wouldn't be surprised if he would sign it."
Another key issue that would have to be addressed is Rose's gambling, the official said. Baseball is convinced Rose hasn't bet on baseball since his banishment, but he has gambled legally on horse racing and football games.
It isn't clear yet how far baseball wants to go in restricting Rose's gambling - many managers and coaches are regulars at horse and dog tracks - but clearly baseball wants to protect itself and the Hall from embarrassment, the official said.
The New York Daily News reported in its Tuesday editions that Rose could be reinstated within the month, and that Selig could let the review process continue well beyond Opening Day.
"Rose is likely to be allowed to attend the Reds' first game at their new Great American Ball Park, possibly as a guest of Cincinnati mayor Charlie Luken," the Daily News reported, quoting two high-ranking MLB officials.
"It's true his (Rose's) agent and I had discussions about the possibility of him appearing at the Opening Day Parade or the Opening Day game - if he resolves his issues with Major League Baseball," Luken told the Enquirer Tuesday. "And that, so far as I know, has not been concluded. It would be nice to have him at the parade. The big focus right now is that they don't want to do anything that upsets Major League Baseball."
Rose has turned down the invitation to be the grand marshal of the Findlay Market Opening Day Parade. Baseball officials were pleased by that. They don't want Rose flaunting the possibility he could soon be reinstated, MLB officials said.
The Hall of Fame is important to Rose, Ruby said. Had Rose not been banned from baseball in 1989, he likely in 1992 would have been the first player ever unanimously elected to Cooperstown by the voting members of the Baseball Writers Association of America.
Ruby said baseball officials know it is to their benefit to reinstate Rose, which is why the lines of communication between Rose's attorneys and baseball have remained open, despite the setbacks from recent revelations that the IRS had filed a $153,000 tax lien on Rose's California home (STORY), and that he was spotted at the gaming tables in Las Vegas. Rose denies the reports of his casino gambling, and has told friends he's made arrangements to pay off the IRS debt.
"Pete's contribution to society transcends baseball," Ruby said. "He dominated a generation in which American parents told their kids, `If you put your mind to it, you can be whatever you want to be - look at what Pete Rose has accomplished. He doesn't have the most talent, but he has the most passion; he has the most drive.' People can relate to that. That is why fans give him the ovations they do - that and the fact they feel baseball has punished him long enough."
But for Rose to publicly admit he bet on Reds games is not something Rose would likely do for a coach's job or even the Hall of Fame, his friends say.
"We all know who Pete Rose is," said a business acquaintance who requested anonymity. "Of course Pete wants to manage again. He loves being in the middle of it, and he loves being paid well. He was that way when he played; he was that way when he managed, and he's that way now. Yes, that's exactly what this is about - it's all about managing."
Greg Korte contribute to this report. E-mail firstname.lastname@example.org.
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