Growing up in Chicago, my favorite players were always local guys, Rick Monday, Ron Santo, Billy Williams and guys like that. But as a youngster, who started playing little league baseball in 1976, Pete Rose was a guy I loved to watch play.
As a diminutive hitter, I adopted the Rose "crouch" from the left side of the plate, to make it harder for pitchers to throw to me. When they couldn't, I'd run down to first base after a walk, just like Rose.
I'm probably not alone in this. Surely kids of my generation would probably tell you the same thing. "Charlie Hustle" was the guy we all wanted to play like. Always on the move, flopping into 2nd base, and the best thing as a kid, always getting dirty.
Now I just feel kind of dirty for admiring him like I did. Ok, not as a player, but for the person. A man who claimed to respect the game of baseball, did the one thing that you are not supposed to do: gamble on the great American game. Then instead of copping to it, he denied, and denied and denied it, resulting in a lifetime ban from the game he loved. The game that crowned him the All-Time hit leader. The game that made him a household name. The game that now, he'd give anything to be a part of again.
In September, Rose met with the new Commissioner of Baseball, Rob Manfred, in hopes of being reinstated. Those hopes were dashed as Manfred denied the petition yesterday.
Today during a press conference in of all places, Las Vegas, Rose talked about the tone of his meeting with Manfred, saying, "I tried to be as honest as I could with the commissioner, and I think he appreciated that." Now from all reports, Rose admitted in the meeting that he still gambles and on baseball. Wow. So maybe honesty for Rose wasn't the best policy here.
Manfred released a statement yesterday on his decision to keep Rose out of baseball:
"In short, Mr. Rose has not presented credible evidence of a reconfigured life either by an honest acceptance by him of his wrongdoing, so clearly established by the Dowd Report, or by a rigorous, self-aware and sustained program of avoidance by him of all the circumstances that led to his permanent ineligibility in 1989. Absent such credible evidence, allowing him to work in the game presents an unacceptable risk of a future violation by him of Rule 21, and thus to the integrity of our sport. I, therefore, must reject Mr. Rose's application for reinstatement."I'm not saying that everyone that played the game is an honest, sincere and clean cut person. All you have to do is look back as recently as the late 90's when PED's and steroids ruled the headlines of baseball. But some of those 'accused' of usage, came clean, apologized, admitted mistakes and were embraced by the game again. Some. Not all. Now Rose falls into the latter category. I know in a book he admitted to gambling on baseball as the manager of the Reds. But has he really admitted it to himself? Doesn't sound like it. I'm not trying to be high and mighty here, I'm not perfect, but if he really loves the game like he says couldn't he work on being more truthful with himself?
The statements he's made at his press conference don't lead you to believe he is, or ever will be. Rose said today that he'll continue "the path of trying to reconfigure my life," and he feels that eventually Major League Baseball will want him back.
Baseball doesn't want him around. Can you blame it? If Rose were reinstated, there's a chance he'd be hired by a team as a coach, consultant or front office guy. Baseball doesn't want Rose influencing players, kids who are still developing as people not to mention players.
Part of me feels badly for Rose. He's 74 years old, and doesn't sound like he'll ever change. It's truly sad, when arguably the best hitter in the game, will not be a part of it, and will not be in the Hall of Fame.
I hope he'll eventually realize what is going on and make amends. Not likely, this Rose has too many thorns.