Charlie Hustle Comes Clean. Sort Of

Well, Pete Rose finally confessed to betting on baseball.

And about time. He’s spent 14 years giving unconvincing denials, pleading that his only crime was being a bad judge of friends while never denying that he was a gambler in general — only that he bet on the game. Now, though, time is running out for old Charlie Hustle — he needs to get reinstated to baseball by December 2005 for his name to be eligible for inclusion on the writers’ ballot for induction into the Hall of Fame — so he’s decided that, since bluff has failed, it’s time for a different strategy.

Just don’t fool yourself into thinking that strategy has anything to do with actually regretting what he did. From Rose’s new book, My Prison Without Bars:

I bet the Reds to win every time. I bet the Phillies, my other former team, to win even when they were huge underdogs and on a losing streak.
For me, it wasn’t about the odds.
I was rooting for my teams – no, believing in my teams. It wasn’t the smart way to bet. … I never – ever – bet against my teams…
I’m sure that I’m supposed to act all sorry or sad or guilty now that I’ve accepted that I’ve done something wrong. But you see, I’m just not built that way.
… So let’s leave it like this: I’m sorry it happened, and I’m sorry for all the people, fans and family that it hurt. Let’s move on.

Ah, yes. He’s not sorry he did it, he’s sorry it happened (note the passive voice, so reminiscent of the Nixonian “mistakes were made”) and that anyone was hurt. If only someone could have done something about it! Someone like… um… Pete.

What a load of moral cowardice. This is a “confession” in name only. He’s still not taking responsibility for his actions, for what he did — which is all the more amazing when you consider he’s had fourteen years to come to terms with it. He’s not even taking responsibility for all the times he’s accused other people of being liars over those fourteen years for saying things that he’s now admitting are true. This is the sort of apology you expect from a child, not a man.

There’s really two issues to be dealt with when it comes to Pete Rose — the Hall of Fame issue, and the reinstatement-to-baseball issue. My feeling after seeing this sniveling performance from Rose is that the two should be decoupled. Give Pete his plaque in Cooperstown. Just put a big asterisk on it — hey, they defaced Roger Maris’ record for decades with just such a caveat, and for far less reason. Put an asterisk on it and a brief note that says that Pete Rose was banned from baseball in 1989 for betting on the game, and that he lied about it for fourteen years afterward before coming clean.

The other question, the reinstatement-to-baseball question — allowing Rose to come back as a manager, or in any other role that affects the game — that one is easy: don’t. Give Pete his plaque, and his asterisk, but make the price that he stop inflicting himself on baseball. Tell him in no uncertain terms that fourteen years is enough.

I think the Cincinnati Enquirer’s Paul Daugherty gets it pretty much right:

So, yes, Pete Rose belongs in the Hall of Fame. It’s a museum. It has a front door, not pearly gates. Nobody got more base hits than Peter Edward. Probably, no one ever will. Put him in the Hall. Give him a super-sized plaque, big enough for a detailed explanation as to why he told one story for 14 years and another in January 2004. Keep him away from any job that even remotely sniffs the ballpark grass. And be done with him.
That’s an amazing thing to say, isn’t it? Dear Pete: Go away.

My thoughts exactly.