By Kevin Kelly
The Cincinnati Enquirer
The admission he bet on baseball could nudge Pete Rose closer toward reinstatement and ultimately lead to his enshrinement in the Hall of Fame.
But time is running short for baseball's all-time hits leader, who must be reinstated by December 2005 for his name to appear on the baseball writers' ballot at least once.
That Rose chose now to go public is no coincidence to the voters regarded as his best chance of going to Cooperstown, N.Y., as more than a sideshow.
"My first reaction is, Pete what took you so long?" said Baseball Writers Association of America president Paul Hagen of the Philadelphia Daily News. "If, in fact, this is the first step toward getting him on the Hall of Fame ballot, it's a wonderful thing.
"But I think a lot of it is going to depend on how Pete plays this in the next few weeks. He still has to explain why he lied for 14 years, and he's going to have to convince people he's sorry he did it."
If or when Rose's name appears on a Hall of Fame ballot - Major League Baseball commissioner Bud Selig could place him on probation as part of any reinstatement deal - he would be judged on a variety of criteria.
Rose applied for reinstatement in 1997.
Some will look no further than the 4,256 hits in 3,562 games spanning 24 seasons with the Reds, Phillies and Expos and see no reason for excluding him.
"I think people are going to look at the fact that all this (happened) when he was done playing," said Larry Stone, national baseball writer at the Seattle Times. "I think you look at his qualifications as a player and you vote for him."
Others will deem it necessary to revisit the post-playing career events so as to judge the entire picture.
"If you look at what he accomplished on the field, it's a slam dunk," said Marc Topkin of the St. Petersburg Times. "But it's Pete Rose. You've got to consider everything."
Said Ken Daley, national baseball writer at the Dallas Morning News: "If he does appear on the writers' ballot, I still have some very deep reservations about voting for him based on the seriousness of his violation.
"I still don't think Pete grasps the seriousness of his offense and how badly it tarnished the game directly."
The manner in which Rose chose to acknowledge his transgressions - through a book and network television interview - has received a lukewarm reception. It's seen as another decision made with personal financial gain in mind.
"There may be some backlash," San Diego Union-Tribune columnist Tim Sullivan said. "I think some voters could be offended by the way this has come down. But it wouldn't sway my vote one way or the other."
If Rose's eligibility expires before he appears on a writers ballot, his case moves to the Veterans Committee. There's a sense that Rose's chances probably would diminish at that point.
"If you took a secret ballot among the surviving members (of the Hall of Fame), there'd be a lot less support than you've been hearing about," former manager Tommy Lasorda told the Enquirer last month.
"There are a lot of Hall of Famers who will really be upset if he makes the Hall of Fame."
Results of the 2004 Hall of Fame voting will be announced today.
Some of those not elected today could find themselves on the same ballot as Rose should he become eligible in the near future.
"Every year you face some tough and intriguing issues," Stone said. "That would be far and away the biggest.
"There are two Hall of Fame induction speeches I don't want to miss. One is Rickey Henderson and the other is Pete Rose. It's going to be an event."
He bet on baseball
Daugherty: Truth for sale
Editorial: Rose's confession doesn't change a thing
Rose grooves one for Selig
Rose felt heat in summer of '89
Roadblocks still occupy Rose's Cooperstown path
Gambling problems underestimated
Straight from Pete
Admission brings redemption
Hometown support strong
Rose memorabilia value should remain high
Revelation evokes relief, shock
Attention will shift to Selig's decision
What others are saying
Pete Rose timeline
Dantonio putting together his staff
MORE FOOTBALL HEADLINES
Bengals stay on Clear Channel
Manning wins starting spot among elite
Design new grid to crown champ
Sharing just fine with Louisiana St.
Title game ratings down from last year
Moeller's top ranking enhanced after close loss to national power
Covington Catholic maintains its perch atop boys rankings
Prep sports results, schedules
Broncos, Rockets, Flashes start quickly
Wildcats, Bearcats move up in polls
MORE SPORTS HEADLINES
Local hockey update
Sports on TV, radio
Return to Reds front page...