Monday, December 14, 2015

The Hit King--Forever (and Justifiably) Tarnished

       By Ross Newhan

       So, Rob Manfred, the baseball commissioner, has rejected Pete Rose's application for reinstatement, and it is safe to say that, at 74, Rose has run out of commissioners and run out of time. Rose may still see his bust in the Hall of Fame--Manfred left that door open by saying it was up to the folks in Cooperstown--but ineligible on Park Ave., under current rules, means ineligible anywhere else in New York.

        Basically, Manfred wrote in a judgement heavy on legalese that he didn't believe Rose, didn't trust Rose, didn't see any evidence that Rose has reconfigured his life since a bulging briefcase of bookie sheets and other evidence resulted in suspension and ineligibility for breaking baseball's Golden Rule on gambling 30 years ago. In other words, a Rose by any other name remains...a sham, a charlatan...and selling memorabilia in the shadows of a Vegas casino or from card tables on Main Street in the shadows of the Hall doesn't spell reconfigured.

        Sad? A shame?

       Of course.

       How many times have I written that there is no other way to describe it?

       He is baseball's all-time hits leader. He was Charlie Hustle come to hair flying life.

       Yet, he hasn't been eligible for a job in the sport he loves or a bronze bust that would be the ultimate acknowledgement of his relentless accomplishments as the ultimate hit machine--and the shame is his.

       Accountability and responsibility have escaped Mr Hustle.

       And if Bart Giamatti and Fay Vincent hoped he would find it, Bud Selig and successor Manfred have seen no evidence he had.

       "Mr. Rose's public and private comments, including his initial admission in 2004, provide me with little confidence that he has a mature understanding of his wrongful conduct, that he has accepted full responsibility for it, or that he understands the damage he has caused," Manfred wrote.                                    
       And while among the submissions Rose presented to the commissioner was a report from the co-director of the UCLA Gambling Studies Program and director of the school's Addiction Psychiatry Fellowship (a rationale for his behavior?), Manfred wrote that "the factual background recited in it is inconsistent with what Mr. Rose told me during our meeting."

        Thus, over three decades, the search for truth and trust has probably reached a conclusion.

       An unrepentant gambler on baseball as manager of the Cincinnati Reds (and still, according to evidence, a gambler on baseball), the Hit King's crown is likely to remain forever tarnished, banned from the sport that was his life, with only one man responsible for those layers of rust.       

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