Wednesday, January 7, 2004

The waiting game now begins

Pete Rose made his move Monday. Now, it's Bud Selig's turn to act

By John Erardi
The Cincinnati Enquirer

As with almost every major newspaper in the country, Major League Baseball will be reviewing Pete Rose's new book, My Prison Without Bars.

But Baseball's won't be a literary critique.

"We'll have a number of people go through it and process what's in it," Baseball spokesman Patrick Courtney said Tuesday.

Beyond that, there is no timetable regarding Rose's petition for reinstatement.

On Monday, Cincinnati's favorite native son ended 14 years of denial by confessing he bet on the sport that made him famous. His words, "Yes, I did" bet on baseball, reverberated on radios and TVs across the Tristate, where he remains an icon, however tainted.

Baseball feels no pressure to act on Rose's petition, but Rose himself feels a deadline crunch. His last chance to be elected to the Hall of Fame by the Baseball Writers Association of America is December 2005.

If he's not reinstated and elected to Cooperstown by then, his candidacy moves to the Hall of Fame's Veterans Committee, viewed as less friendly toward Rose than the writers.

Selig, on the other hand, has no reason to rush, and has several options, which include granting limited reinstatement to Rose. This would allow Rose to go on the Hall of Fame ballot, yet keep him from managing again.

Indeed, Selig is said to be most concerned about Rose wearing a baseball uniform again in any capacity, then reneging on the reinstatement agreement.

Reaction to Monday's revelations were mixed, and reflect why Selig, who carefully monitors public opinion, wants to avoid making a hasty decision on Rose's reinstatement.

To be sure, there was plenty of support for Rose.

"I couldn't be happier," Warren Greene, Rose's business agent, said Tuesday. "I am extremely proud of Pete . Everybody from his family to his friends and those closest to Pete feel the same way" about Rose coming clean.

"We view this as a positive. Pete's still extremely positive about all this. We have nothing to tell you about Major League Baseball, but we are hoping for a very bright future."

Others were not so positive.

WCKY-AM host Lance McAllister said Monday wasn't a good day for Rose, and that many of the Hit King's supporters feel betrayed.

"A lot of his diehards took it personally and are hurt," he said.

The aftermath of Monday's announcement also demonstrated the influence Rose still has on the game, as coverage on his admission overshadowed the announcement that Paul Molitor and Dennis Eckersley had been elected into the Hall of Fame.

Molitor conceded as much; Eckersley said Rose's announcement Monday was "bad timing," but that it didn't bother him.

That scene - two new Hall of Famers commenting on Rose - conjured 15-year-old images. In 1989, Johnny Bench's induction into Cooperstown was spoiled by fan and media preoccupation with Rose, who had just agreed to the lifetime ban from baseball.

Enquirer phone calls to Bench's office weren't returned Monday and Tuesday, but another former Rose teammate, Hall of Famer Mike Schmidt, did share his opinion on Monday's developments. Schmidt, a friend of Rose and his staunchest supporter, said he wasn't thrilled with how Rose handled the matter.

"This might not have been the best way to make this admission," Schmidt told ESPN Radio. "I was hoping something could have been done with the commissioner's office."

But, Schmidt added, Rose may have felt the need to act after a year without any action from Selig and Baseball.

"It's been 14 months since Pete met with the commissioner and not much has happened," he said.

It was Nov. 25, 2002, that Selig first heard Rose admit he had bet on baseball. Since word of that meeting leaked in late 2002, baseball followers have been speculating on what Rose and Selig discussed.

And while that information is no longer secret, more developments are expected this week.

My Prison Without Bars, which costs $24.95, will be released Thursday. Two stores which are hosting Rose book signings here in two weeks - Media Play in Western Hills and Joseph-Beth in Norwood - have already sold, via vouchers, 200 and 520 books, respectively.

"It's going to be a huge day, undoubtedly our largest book sale ever," said David McCann, general manager of Media Play. "We're already hearing from people that they're going to camp out so they're assured a place in line."

McCann's store will receive 1,750 copies of the book, and Rose will autograph at least 1,200 during a two-hour book signing session between 12 p.m. and 2 p.m. on Jan. 21.

Joseph-Beth, which is receiving 5,500 books, is having Rose autograph at least 4,500 between 6 p.m. and 8 p.m. on Jan. 21.

But ultimately, while there is an appetite for more Rose information - his new book is No. 12 on's sales list - there is also perhaps some fatigue. There wasn't a lot of buzz Tuesday about Rose on local sports-talk radio.

"People are tired of it; they'd prefer it go away," said McAllister. "There'd been so much speculation about what Pete would say or wouldn't say when he finally got around to it, that the attitude now is, 'I don't care anymore.' "


Jim Knippenberg contributed to this report.

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