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Pete Rose offers yet another apology. Does it matter?

Sep 13, 2010, 10:58 AM EDT

Maybe to some people. But it shouldn't matter to baseball. Or the Hall of Fame. Or to us.

First Pete Rose denied. Then — after several years — he apologized. That apology was almost certainly calculated to sell copies of his big apology-filled book, so most people discounted it.  Well, he apologized again over the weekend. This time at a celebrity roast in his honor, held in a casino ballroom, and this time with tears:

“I disrespected the game of baseball. When you do that, you disrespect your teammates, the game and your family . . . It took me years and years (to come to grips with
it) . . . I’m a hard-headed guy . . . But I’m a lot better guy standing
here tonight (because of finally owning up to it) . . . I guarantee everybody in this room, I will never disrespect you again . . . I’m a different guy . . . I love the fans, I love the game of baseball, and I love Cincinnati baseball.”

I’m not a big believer in public repentance. People treat it as a gotcha game with celebrities and politicians all the time. “He needs to apologize!” “That apology wasn’t good enough!” “He needs to repudiate that guy he knows who said that dumb thing!” “He apologized, but it wasn’t sincere!” Blah, blah, blah.

Pete Rose didn’t do anything to me, so I kind of don’t care if he apologized or not. This one was directed at a lot of his former teammates, players and supporters, however, and he probably did owe them an apology to the extent they’ve gone out on a limb for him over the years only to have him more or less humiliate them for doing so. Whether they accept it or not is between him and them.

What I don’t think this does is make any difference for his Hall of Fame case or reinstatement to the game. Nor should it. If Major League Baseball and the Hall have been waiting around for an apology that hits just the right tone in order to act then they’re both bigger lost causes as institutions than can possibly be imagined.

Pete Rose’s reinstatement should not depend on the adequacy of his public repentance. It should depend on (a) his desire to be reinstated and work in the game; (b) his risk to the game; and (c) his actions. Does he currently live a life and have associations that pose a danger to baseball? Does he seem like he’d be a risk if placed in a position of authority? Does he want in to actually work in the game and help out, or is it just a play for the Hall so he can charge more for his autograph? That stuff matters more than any tears he sheds in public, be they real or of the crocodile variety.

The apology, such as it was, was nice. I tend to believe those were real tears and not some put-on. I hope it helps Rose mend fences with Tony Perez and the others who were in attendance at that roast (though, prithee my dear: if these guys showed up at a Pete Rose roast, are they really in need of an apology? Seems like they love the guy all the same).

But to the rest of us it shouldn’t really matter.

  1. David - Sep 13, 2010 at 11:12 AM

    Your three criteria rely solely on the individual impact of Pete Rose. You entirely neglect the importance of the punishment for the game of baseball. There is one cardinal sin in baseball, and Rose committed that sin.
    Bart Giamatti instituted a lifetime ban, which Rose accepted. Later, Rose admitted he bet on baseball, removing any doubt about his guilt. I fail to see any reason that this issue ever needs to be revisited.

  2. Tall Paul - Sep 13, 2010 at 11:32 AM

    AMEN brother, amen!

  3. Jonny5 - Sep 13, 2010 at 11:43 AM

    I am so not a fan of this refreshing screen that just tossed my thoughs out the window, again.
    I am not, and never will be a fan of how the “lifetime ban” has played out. It’s akin to a revisionists history imo. Yes, he broke the rules. Yes he desrves punishment. I agree with most of what Craig said above besides the whole “reinstatement criteria” he posted. I feel the punishment was not doled out properly. Pete Rose did with his bat, what no one has ever done before him. And for that he should be in the HOF. I also think he should not be allowed to be a part of Baseball’s present. That should be the scar he still bears for his crime. But I also feel the HOF has to be an accurate record of the best players who ever played the game, which it isn’t as long as Rose is kept out. It’s kind of a sham when you keep out one of the best players of all time. Let him never be reinstated to the game’s present day affairs, but put him in the HOF now, it’s been long overdue. That’s my take on it. okay, i’m now prepared for a thorough berating from some other posters…

  4. matt - Sep 13, 2010 at 11:58 AM

    He’s a skank. Always has been. He got caught and got punished. These hall of famers live off of being a member and Pete has lost 20 years of that membership. Thats punishment enough. Ken Burns suggested waiting until he died to out him in so he can’t enjoy it. Are we that sad as people that we need to think on that level? If he went in 10 years ago nobody would be talking about this guy at all. He doesn’t make it easy to forgive him with his constant memorabilia hawking and casino work but baseball has made its point. Let him in and lets move on.

  5. Denice - Sep 13, 2010 at 12:12 PM

    Jonny5 I – no berating from me. I totally agree. I agree he should never have a say in the outcome of a baseball game again… too much temptation. But if the HOF is supposed to honor the best that ever played, it’ll always be a player short in my opinion. As for Bart Giamatti…yes Pete agreed to the lifetime ban but major league baseball ( and it’s then-commisioner ) for it’s part, agreed to make no formal statement as to his guilt or innocence. First time sometime put a microphone up to the commisioner his words were ( to paraphrase ) “yea, I think he’s guilty”. Couldn’t keep their end of the bargain for 5 minutes

  6. John_Michael - Sep 13, 2010 at 12:38 PM

    Pete Rose: HR% 1.0% AB/HR 87.8%
    Eric Bruntlett: HR% 1.2% AB/HR 71.7%

  7. Mike - Sep 13, 2010 at 1:14 PM

    What does that information tell you? Pete Rose was the Hit King, not the HR machine. He didn’t swing for the fence, but rather to place it where they weren’t.

  8. Mike - Sep 13, 2010 at 1:27 PM

    Rose bet on MLB – and about anything else he could get a taker on. However, the lifetime ban was agreed to, because in principle Giamatti agreed to re-visit reinstatement within a couple of years. That was immediately made known right after the Commissioner broke the first part of the agreement which held that there would not be a judgmental statement as to opinion of guilt or innocence. In fact, the plea was nolo contendere, or no contest. The MLB Commissioner’s office was wrong in how they handled this from the beginning. Regardless, keeping Rose out of the HOF, the man with the most hits in the history of the game and did NOT bet on MLB games as a player (even MLB agrees on this point), while allowing those who truly cheated at the game stay shrined, is a double standard. Rose should be judged solely on his accomplishments as a player, not on what he did as a Manager or who he has hung around with since being out of baseball. However, I do agree that he should not be allowed to work in baseball again. His induction into the HOF should not be denied any longer.

  9. Utley's hair - Sep 13, 2010 at 1:28 PM

    Damn you. You’re right on both counts (Rose and the self-refreshing pages), so I can’t berate you. You suck.

  10. Chipmaker - Sep 13, 2010 at 1:34 PM

    That’s nice. But twelve-step programs don’t end at Step One.
    I consider the Hall the least interesting aspect of Rose’s status. He should never be reinstated, never be considered for reinstatement, with the one microscopic possibility that he substantially reforms his life. Which, for the past 20 years, he has not remotely come close to start fixin’ to begin getting around to plan for doing something about anytime soonish.
    One or some of his legion of apologists need to drag him bodily to GA meetings until the message sinks into his thick skull. Rose needs his people. Why don’t they do something? Carping from the keyboard is an established failure for effecting change regards Rose; it’s time for action. (Not me, though, because Rose is not my cause. But he appears to have more than enough supporters.)

  11. Jonny5 - Sep 13, 2010 at 1:37 PM

    No, Damn You Utley’s Hair, who is always too slicked back with too much gel, making the player I have the largest man crush on look like a VO5 commercial reject from the 70’s!!! Yeah, take that bad hair!!! You suck more!! ;>P

  12. Utley's hair - Sep 13, 2010 at 1:39 PM

    Nothing will happen on this until Selig the Great is out of the commisioner’s office. Rose deserves to be in based on his accomplisments as a player, not his transgressions as a manager.

    And “lifetime ban” has been bandied about as if it means something. Didn’t Steve Howe get like 35 of them?

  13. Utley's hair - Sep 13, 2010 at 1:44 PM

    Bad hair, and yet so much more. Just ask my hot wife–who seems to be too enamored with GEICO commercials recently.

  14. David - Sep 13, 2010 at 1:59 PM

    If Micheal Jordan is in the Hall of Fame they should let Pete Rose in. But, Pete Rose should never to allowed to represent baseball in any way.

  15. RichardInBigD - Sep 13, 2010 at 2:03 PM

    I kind of have to agree with Burns. The HOF is an honor to be savored. Rose, by his actions, gave up the right to have that honor. But, on the other hand, his post mortem induction would preserve the Hall’s duty to accurately depict him as one of the greatest that ever played the game.

  16. Tony A - Sep 13, 2010 at 3:07 PM

    I just had this mental picture; Rose fakes his own death and disappears, HOF says election/induction can proceed, Pete shows up at a casino to watch his induction on TV. What a hoot…

  17. Omega - Sep 13, 2010 at 5:33 PM

    The roast in the casino ballroom kind of shoots down your condition ‘C’ above, Craig.
    Other than that, an excellent commentary on this situation.
    My take on this whole thing, in the HoF as a player but NOT while he is alive, never as a manager of course, & never reinstated to any sort of legitimacy in MLB again.

  18. David - Sep 13, 2010 at 6:10 PM

    Giamatti did not break the agreement. There was no official statement by MLB regarding Rose’s guilt or innocence. The commisioner gave his opinion, nothing more, and the agreement did not preclude him from so doing. There was no plea or anything of the sort involved. The agreement and the MLB investigation did not occur in a court of law. And Rose has twice requested to be reinstated, and those requests seem to have been given the attention they deserve.
    MLB should absolutely keep their ban on Rose in place. However, the MLB Hall of Fame is a private entity that is separate from the MLB. They voted to keep Rose off the ballot, just as they could vote again to place him on the ballot. But even if he is placed on the ballot, he’s not a shoe in to be voted in by either the writers or the veterans committee. However, his records are in the Hall and they can still have exhibits about the man in the museum – I fail to see why they need to bestow upon the man a significant reward.
    PS – you might want to check your facts. Rose admits in his book that he bet on baseball when he was a player and a manager. He even admitted to betting on the Reds to win. He only denied betting on the Reds to lose.

  19. John_Michael - Sep 13, 2010 at 6:56 PM

    …after Rose placed money on him getting inducted. He turns his 4,000 : 1 bet into a zillion dollars and buys the Dodgers, dates Jamie McCourt and then dumps her, where upon he loses the franchise in a wager over three card monty.

  20. RichardInBigD - Sep 13, 2010 at 8:51 PM

    JohnMichael, I have no idea what you do for a living, but you need to get your ass to Hollywood and be a screenwriter! Just leave Jamie McCourt alone. She belongs to Pete…

  21. RichardInBigD - Sep 14, 2010 at 1:53 PM

    You are correct when you say Rose bet on games as a player and a manager, but I believe he only admitted to betting when he was a player/manager, not when he was just a player. Because of his rare situation (especially in modern times) as one man who filled both slots, it is open to wordplay (player, manager, player/manager).

  22. AllThat - Sep 14, 2010 at 4:48 PM

    First he said he never bet on baseball and then he said he did…Then he said he never bet on the Reds and then he said he did..Then he hid money from the IRS and went to jail…..Then he said he never bet on Johnny Bench being gay….oops!!
    They should never let him in….Kinda funny he gets roasted at a gambling joint though….Dumbass just can’t keep away from the gambling…Never will be able to either…

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