Originally created 12/03/99

Rose should right wrongs



The Pete Rose that spoke before the second game of the World Series sounded compassionate and cantankerous, an empathetic charmer and an egomaniac, all within the same sentence.

It seemed sufficient to feel for him, but not many in the crowd would turn over their IRAs for his handling.

Rose, banned from baseball 10 years earlier for sports' most cardinal sin -- betting on games he was involved in -- came across with good intentions. His voice pleaded for a second chance.

"I won't need a third," the 58-year-old said.

And if Steve Howe, Ferguson Jenkins, Orlando Cepeda and Dwight Gooden all could be given numerous opportunities to resurrect their name and image, why not Charlie Hustle, the hardest-working head-first slider of all?

"Even Charles Manson gets a parole hearing every year," Rose said then to the chuckle of many.

That night, as an All-Century outfielder, Rose received the loudest ovation from the Turner Field crowd in what would be the first sanctioned appearance at a major-league stadium since Bart Giamatti banned him in 1989 for gambling. Through voting, through voices, the public spoke.

Then came reporter Jim Gray's notorious badgering for contrition, a moment that canonized Rose's fate even more. He stood as a martyr, a guy who had served his time and paid his debt, a guy who wanted to move on.

Only he hasn't. Still not able to secure a hearing with Commissioner Bud Selig, Rose again asks the people to keep the pressure on.

In a Web site (www.sportcut.com) endorsed by baseball's hit king this week, Rose encourages the public to sign a petition to present baseball with an avalanche of names and comments supporting his restitution.

There's no question that Pete Rose, the man with 4,256 hits and 24 years of service, holds Cooperstown credentials. It's an injustice that his baseball career is not immortalized there.

But then there's Pete Rose, the man that baseball claims to have 52 counts of evidence against for gambling, the man who agreed to his own punishment with a corpse-like stare in 1989.

Rose put his signature to this statement: "Peter Edward Rose acknowledges that the Commissioner has factual basis to impose the penalty provided herein and hereby accepts the penalty imposed upon him by the Commissioner and agrees not to challenge that penalty in court or otherwise."

The Dowd Report, a 224-page document authorized by Giamatti, concluded that Rose did indeed bet on baseball, usually at $2,000 a game and as many as 50 games a week. Baseball's case includes Rose's fingerprints, wire taps, betting slips, phone records, bookie interviews, even Mafia middlemen on the record.

It's an overwhelming heap to deny, yet Rose steadfastly holds to his claim of innocence. The more he denies, the less you trust him.

Rose admitted his addiction to gambling, and one stage of rehabilitation is to confront denial. It's obvious Rose is not proceeding through that step well.

Even former teammates Johnny Bench and Joe Morgan have opposed reinstatement. Morgan even addressed as much in his book Long Balls, No Strikes, stating: "Pete's own actions tell me he did something wrong. The Pete Rose I know is a consummate fighter. Had he been innocent, he never would have signed the document that banned him from the game he loves so passionately."

If Rose wants forgiveness, and his name enshrined in the hall, he needs to provide full disclosure for his wrongs and throw himself on the mercy of the court.

Rose seems adamant to change public opinion even though the evidence against him hasn't changed in 10 years.

Reach Rick Dorsey at (706) 823-3219.