Tuesday, May 6, 2008

Did Pete Rose see it coming?

Pete Rose was banished from baseball for life in 1989 by then commissioner, Bart Giamatti. Rose was widely believed to have bet on Reds games during his time as manager. Denying such claims, Rose remained ineligible for the Hall of Fame as baseball's most famous pariah since Shoeless Joe Jackson. After being repeatedly rebuffed in his attempts at reinstatement, Rose finally came clean in 2004. Rose fessed up to betting on the Reds, but never against them. Despite his tardy admission, Rose remains banned. One wonders what really spurned him to come clean in 2004. Rose has made no secret of his desire to manage again, and more significantly, of his desire to be in the Hall of Fame, a place he deserves to be based on statistics alone.

Maybe Charlie Hustle foresaw the current steroid saga and believed if he could clean his name first, perhaps his actions would seem tamer in due time. As a baseball insider all his life, Rose was certainly aware of the juicing in the game. He also would have been wise to the brewing storm that was certain to rain unsavory headlines on papers coast to coast. Always a calculating man, Rose knew that his sins were of a different era. By coming clean before steroids reached the front page, Rose benefits from presentism that renders his crimes forgettable, until the next Ken Burns epic. This will unlikely save his Hall candidacy, writers and fans are more offended by dishonesty than suspicious biceps.