Monday, July 14, 2003

Rose decision not likely this year

Reinstatement on hold as Baseball has him serve 'probation'

By John Erardi
The Cincinnati Enquirer

Pete Rose heads to first base after he singled against the San Diego Padres for hit 4,192. ZOOM this photo, then right-click for wallpaper.
(Michael E. Keating/file photo)
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Pete Rose, who has made a career of making big splashes at the Major League Baseball All-Star game, may be going quietly this year. His bid for reinstatement to baseball appears to be on hold until next season.

Rose is serving some sort of "double-secret probation," said a Cincinnati source, who is regularly apprised by Rose's handlers on the case's progress. The source said he has been told Rose will probably not be reinstated this season.

There is no reason for baseball to rush Rose's petition. Rose still has three years to go on the 15-year window for consideration by the baseball writers for election to the Hall of Fame. That vote comes up every December. So, even if Rose is not reinstated to baseball and thus made eligible for this December's vote, he still has two more shots at it.

There is no guarantee, however, that Rose would get the 75 percent of the votes required for induction - at least not the first time around. Some of the 600-plus writers, who regularly vote in the annual Hall of Fame balloting, have said they first want to hear what Rose says in his confession/apology.

Before reinstating Rose, MLB officials want to make certain Rose is able to avoid further taint of what got him in trouble to begin with - gambling.

This would explain the probation.

Late last year, Rose appeared to be on track for imminent reinstatement - possibly as soon as this past Opening Day. But the bid hit a snag when published reports surfaced of Rose being spotted in some Las Vegas casinos.

The snag deepened when the Enquirer first reported late last January that Rose owed $153,000 on a tax lien on his California home. The federal lien was filed against Rose in 2000. It was unrelated to the gambling problems that got him placed on baseball's permanently ineligible list Aug. 24, 1989, by then-commissioner Bart Giamatti.

Rose denied the reports of casino gambling; his handlers said Rose had acknowledged his debt to the IRS and was negotiating his repayment terms. And Rose's friends said in February that Rose had made arrangements to pay off the IRS debt.

But the Los Angeles County Recorder's office said last week - seven months after the lien was first revealed publicly - that the lien was still active.

It would take about two weeks for the lien to be cleared once Rose pays it off, an official in the recorder's office said. As of last Friday, the lien was still active.

Warren Greene, Rose's business agent, didn't return a call Friday from the Enquirer.

As recently as March, baseball officials thought it might be able to reinstate Rose by Tuesday's All-Star game. But apparently there was too little time to resolve the matter, and officials opted instead to put Rose on probation pending reinstatement. That gives them more time to make sure Rose is staying out of casinos and paying off his debts.

A spokesperson for Major League Baseball said Friday that MLB had no comment on the case.

"Given the pendency of the application for reinstatement, neither the commissioner nor anyone in our office will comment on the Pete Rose matter further," said the spokesperson, quoting from a statement first released by the commissioner's office last year.

Rose visited Great American Ball Park for the first time last June 8, but declined to talk to the media. Three weeks ago, in comments that were not widely reported in the print media, Rose told Mike Schmidt, his former Phillies teammate who hosts a radio show in West Palm Beach, Fla., that he wants to manage in the majors again. He managed the Reds from August 1984 through August 1989.

"I want to get back in the game that I love, as a manager, because I want to help young players become better players," Rose told Schmidt, according to a transcript of the radio show. "I hope to get this thing resolved in the upcoming months or even upcoming years, because it's been since 1989 . . ."

This squares with what a baseball official told the Enquirer last March: "Being allowed to manage again is what this really is all about. 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.

Rose's friends have said all along that Rose wants to manage again. They said if he is precluded from managing again, he won't give Major League Baseball what it wants: a public admission of what the Dowd Report concluded: that he bet on Reds games.

"I know I made mistakes," Rose told Schmidt. "You know I made mistakes, but you're willing to put those mistakes behind me and let me go on with my life. I think as time goes on, (commissioner) Bud Selig could feel the same way as someone like you does."

Last November, Schmidt was a key figure in setting up a meeting with Selig that heightened hopes of Rose's eventual reinstatement. Two other Hall of Famers and Rose teammates, Johnny Bench and Joe Morgan, also favor Rose's reinstatement. They have told Rose he must tell Selig all, if he expects to be reinstated.

But few, if any, Hall of Famers have come out publicly in favor of Rose managing again in the big leagues. MLB fears the suspicions that would arise among fans every time something happened the least bit out of the ordinary in a game Rose was managing.

But there is a lot of support nationally for Baseball to remove Rose's name from the permanently ineligible list so that he can be considered by the baseball writers for election to the Hall of Fame.

That subject goes national again at 7 p.m. Thursday, when ESPN will air a mock trial of Rose - complete with a judge, jury, Rose defense counsel Johnnie Cochran and Rose "prosecutor" Alan Dershowitz - from the prestigious Ames moot courtroom at Harvard Law School.

The topic of the mock trial is: "Should Pete Rose be in the Hall of Fame?" The "trial" begins at 2 p.m. Thursday and will conclude in the early evening. It will be videotaped and edited, and then aired in a three-hour show on ESPN that begins at 7 p.m. At 10 p.m., the jury's "verdict" will be announced.

"The Pete Rose Hall of Fame issue continues to be widely discussed," said John Walsh, ESPN senior vice president and executive editor, in a statement. "This 'moot court' trial will offer a grassroots indication of how America feels about Rose."

TV mock trial

ESPN will air a mock trial of Pete Rose at 7 p.m. Thursday. It will feature a judge, jury, Rose defense counsel Johnnie Cochran and Rose "prosecutor" Alan Dershowitz.

The topic of the mock trial is: "Should Pete Rose be in the Hall of Fame?"

The jury's "verdict" will be announced at 10 p.m.


E-mail Robert Anglen contributed to this report.

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