By Dustin Dow
The Cincinnati Enquirer
Commissioner Bud Selig made a quiet appearance at Great American Ball Park for Opening Day and raved about the new stadium but offered no new information on Pete Rose's progress regarding reinstatement.
"Today has been a wonderful experience," said Selig, who held an impromptu press conference during the game. "It's a tremendous ballpark. It's really remarkable: We've gone from Crosley Field to this. It's wonderful. It's everything that a park should be."
Whether or not baseball officially will welcome Rose in the ballpark remains to be seen. Rose is serving a lifetime ban from baseball for betting on games, but he and Selig discussed the possibility of Rose's reinstatement in November.
"It's not a kind of subject that I think is appropriate to speak of," Selig said. "Pete had the right to apply for reinstatement. He did that. I let it sit on my desk for a long time. We've now had a meeting, as you know, last November, and there really isn't anything new. We're looking at a lot of things, and we'll continue to."
Rose, who first applied for reinstatement in 1997, signed a book deal with Rodale Inc. Monday. The book, co-written with Rick Hill, is expected to be published in March 2004. Rose declined an invitation to be Mayor Charlie Luken's guest for Opening Day.
Selig said he has no timetable regarding a decision on Rose, nor has he specified publicly what Rose must do to secure his reinstatement.
"I've talked to Hall of Famers, particularly Johnny Bench and Joe Morgan and Mike Schmidt, all of whom have been very helpful," he said. "At some point, whenever we get close, I will discuss it with (Rose)."
Rose accepted a lifetime ban from Commissioner Bart Giamatti in 1989.
"As close as I was to Bart, I felt when you read the original doctrine, it gave Pete the right to reinstatement," Selig said. "I thought at that point, my instincts told me it was the right thing to at least consider."
Rose's popularity in the city as a player and a manager of the Reds is a major consideration for Selig.
"I understand the feelings, as someone who grew up in baseball and understands how popular he is here," Selig said. "I understand people's passion here. But popular or unpopular, the commissioner has a job and a role, and I have to do what I think is right. I inherited much of this, but that's life."
Aside from the Rose issue, Selig was impressed with the ballpark, especially the gap - the opening along the third-base line that exposes the downtown skyline. He said Opening Day in Cincinnati is unlike any other.
"In a lot of cities, Opening Day is just another game," he said. "I like to think in middle America, whether it's Milwaukee or Saint Louis or Pittsburgh or Cincinnati, Opening Day is very special."
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