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WSI News - WSI Spotlight

Kansas City Blues

Hustlin' Apology
Say it Ain't So, Pete!

Guy Bacci

For years and years we’ve heard how a simple act of admission would be Pete Rose’s ticket to the Hall of Fame. Confess your sins, and all will be forgiven. Admit your wrongdoing, and you’ll be standing behind a podium in Cooperstown with a plaque in your hands.


Pete Rose has finally obliged. He’s publicly acknowledged that he bet on baseball, and by doing so, he has demonstrated that he’s remorseful for degrading the game of baseball, apologetic for lying to the public all these years, and willing to change his ways and become a better man.


Er, not quite.


Rose’s “apology” has all the sincerity of a funeral home director consoling a widow for the loss of her husband. Rose’s much-anticipated confession was featured in an ABC prime-time interview on the same day his autobiographical book “My Prison Without Walls” was scheduled to hit the shelves. As the sappy title of his book suggests, Rose still considers himself the victim. The media has leaked several excerpts from the book that exhibit Rose is not remotely remorseful for what he did. (For example, “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.”) During his interview with ABC, Rose had the number 14 prominently displayed on his shirt collar -- the number he wore as a player, and the number of years it’s been since he was banned from baseball. It makes for a cute coincidence, doesn’t it? Cute enough to make you want to puke.


If you supported Rose before, and still support him now, then nothing anybody says or does will ever be able to remove the Rose-colored glasses from your face. But thankfully, several prominent media members have come forward and changed their stance on baseball’s all-time hit leader. Most notably, Peter Gammons of ESPN stated he no longer thinks Rose belongs in the Hall, despite his 4,256 career hits. And that’s just the tip of the iceberg. Columnists across the country are following suite.


It seems Rose’s admittance has actually hurt his standing with some of his strongest backers. He was better off playing the sympathy card and snowing over the gullible, star-struck public of America. Now, not only has Rose alienated the fans who believed he never bet on baseball, but he’s irritated the members of the media who claimed they would support him if he came clean.


As a White Sox fan, I’ve always been irked by the notion that Rose should be in the Hall of Fame. As we all know, eight Sox players were banned forever back in 1920. Joe Jackson, of course, would be in the Hall if not for the scandal. Buck Weaver’s ban has always struck me as heartbreakingly vicious, mainly because if I was in Weaver’s shoes, I think I would have done the exact same thing: keep my mouth shut. Nobody likes a tattle-tale, especially during a time when ball players were being treated like dirt by baseball owners.


Considering that baseball was notorious for crooked players in the early 1900’s, it certainly seems the eight members of the Black Sox got a raw deal. Commissioner Landis saw a golden opportunity to make an example of the exposed players, and he did so with a vengeance. But even though the Black Sox suffered unduly, their punishment was the perfect deterrent for future offenders. As a matter of fact, Rose’s scandal is the first since the 1919 World Series, which means Landis’ goal was achieved for over 60 years. The harsh penalty suffered by the Black Sox was a bold and brilliant decision, and arguably saved the game of baseball.


Which is why Rose should never be allowed anywhere near a baseball field or the Hall of Fame, regardless of what he admits or doesn’t admit. The fact that Rose’s apology appears smug -- shamelessly timed in coordination with the announcement of the 2004 Hall of Fame inductees, Paul Molitor and Dennis Eckersley -- only makes Rose’s permanent ban even more necessary.


Does Pete Rose have a sickness? Yes, and we should hope he recovers from his addiction. Is there still time for him to show true remorse and sorrow? Of course (although it’d be tough to take him seriously). But no matter how many times Pete Rose attempts to apologize, he should never be allowed back in baseball, or in the Hall of Fame, because doing so would reverse the long-time impact of the Black Sox ruling. It would signal that it’s okay to bet on baseball, because eventually you’ll be forgiven, especially if you’re popular enough.


Some may argue that since he never bet against his own team, Rose should be given another chance. But that opinion is naïve and doesn’t take into account the slippery slope that follows: If betting on baseball is tolerated, someone at some point is going to bet against his own team. As another defense, Rose has pointed out that drug addicts have been allowed back in baseball multiple times. But those drug-abusing players were only hurting themselves, not the long-term integrity of the game.


The Black Sox threw a World Series at a time when throwing baseball games was not uncommon. Pete Rose was a player/manager and bet on his own team with full knowledge of the consequences. He played the victim for 14 years, suckering hoards of loyal followers. Then he attempted to manipulate the public with his forced and disingenuous admission of guilt. He his ten times worse than any Black Sox player ever was. He is just as dangerous to the integrity and future of baseball as corked bats and andro supplements, if not more.


Say what you want about Bud Selig, but he’s been tough when it comes to Rose, and here’s hoping he remains tough. Don’t lift the ban on Pete Rose. Allow the ghosts of Judge Landis and Joe Jackson to rest in peace.

Guy Bacci is from the north suburbs of Chicago, where he couldn't avoid growing up as a pampered and snotty Cubs fan. Luckily, he saw the light in 1985 and never looked back.  He loved the hard-working, old-school tactics of Carlton Fisk, who would become his all-time favorite player.  His most memorable moment was going to a Sox double-header with his grandfather, who insisted on staying all nine hours (including a long rain delay).  Guy is a journalism grad from Northwestern, currently residing in Seattle, where he works as a computer programmer and freelance writer. He can be reached at

More features from Guy Bacci here!

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