THORNY ISSUEShould Rose enter Hall?

Jan 13, 2004 4:29 AM

"I’m not gonna talk if it’s not gonna help me." ””Pete Rose

is words, sad as they are, define what Cincinnati’s "favorite son" is all about. Fifteen years of denial and suddenly Rose decides on a national television interview show to come clean and admit he bet on baseball.

Rose says the slate is clean. Bull.

In fact, Rose comes off dirtier than ever. The man has zero credibility. "Charlie’s Hustle" to be in Cooperstown and back in the good graces of baseball has been carefully orchestrated to do whatever it takes to make it happen. I freely admit to enjoy gambling and being part of an honorable business that is regulated on the highest level. Rose insults everyone in the industry for putting a black mark on baseball and placing himself in a position of affecting games.

Baseball can’t ignore Rose’s stats, which are clearly first-ballot acceptance into the Hall. But never honor the man! Character does matter. Cooperstown should set aside a room, booth, toilet or whatever seems fit to recognize the man’s achievements. The stats never bet on baseball.

Rose should have come clean years ago. When Paul Hornung and Alex Karras admitted betting on football in the early 1960s, the NFL suspended them for a year. But at least they were upfront. Any Las Vegas bookmaker worth his salt would never condone the point shaving scandals at Boston College and Arizona State.

Ohio State QB Art Schlichter threw away a potentially brilliant career with the Baltimore Colts when the NFL suspended him in 1983 when it was learned bookies threatened him for more than $150,000 in gambling debts. In the mid ”˜90s Schlichter served less than half of a four-year sentence on charges of theft, forgery and fraud in connection with stealing $800,000 to support his gambling.

Especially in gaming, nobody likes a cheater. Imagine sitting at a poker table and catching a player sneaking a glance at someone’s hand. How would you like making a bet on a game that you learned later was fixed?

It doesn’t make an ounce of difference whether Rose bet for or against the Cincinnati Reds while he was manager. The mere perception of an individual being able to alter or benefit from the outcome of a game not only damages the integrity of the sport, but gaming itself.

Bart Giamatti and Fay Vincent are heroes in my book for standing up against Rose and banning him from baseball. We all have our skeletons, but class and integrity should matter. Especially, when the crime occurs against the sport wishing to honor that individual.

No Rose is not a murderer, or a rapist. He’s free to go around peddling that book whether it’s the truth or full of lies (we suspect the latter). He can do a million interviews for all I care. I just won’t watch.

Bottom line: When Shoeless Joe Jackson is enshrined, I’ll consider Rose. Until then, baseball’s lifetime banishment on Rose works for me. The Hall of Fame is the highest form of praising heroes. We need that. Let Rose’s stats wind up in Cooperstown for all to see and admire. Just keep the man off the grounds and out of baseball forever.