‘Old Man’ Rolling Home: Rose’s Place


When Wally first presented the opportunity to have a weekly column, I thrived for the challenge. He requested that the column be a bit lengthy. If you have followed me on Blog Red Machine, you realize that’s not a difficult hurdle for me. The problem I faced was a certain topic or concept. Fast story.

I was employed at a restaurant as a server. I was the oldest male server there. A couple of the younger guys there branded me with the nickname “Old Man”. I would fancy a guess that I’m most likely the oldest writer here on the FanSided.com Sports Network. Some things never change, I guess.

Enough of that…this “Old Man” is rolling home…

Topic for the week…Pete Rose. No, you don’t have to discuss among yourselves. Hopefully, I’ll leave you with maybe a thing or two to discuss later. Maybe even take up with me. Who knows.

Last Saturday evening, the Cincinnati Reds were granted permission by baseball’s higher-ups to observe the 25th anniversary of Peter Edward Rose breaking Ty Cobb’s hit record. The “Hit King” was escorted onto the field at Great American Ball Park and triumphantly stomped on first base much to the delight of the Reds fans in attendance. Finally, Pete was being shown the love by the fans that have supported him for years. His hometown. His fans.

Rose was also the guest of honor at a roast at Hollywood Casino (insert joke here) in which Rose outwardly broke down in tears in front of those close to him. If you read this past week’s Picks of the Pen, you may have already read the article by John Erardi on Cincinnati.com. He uttered these words.

"“I disrespected the game of baseball,” Rose said. “When you do that, you disrespect your teammates, the game and your family.”"

And Rose went even further to apologize to his former teammates. He bared his soul for the 500 or so there.

"“I guarantee everybody in this room, I will never disrespect you again,” Rose said.“You can talk about hits and runs and championship games . . . (But) I want my legacy to be (that of) somebody who came forward. If anybody has a problem here today, come forward. Don’t hide it . . . You can run, but you can’t hide. If I can help a young kid to know what I went through, maybe I can prevent them from going through the same thing.“I got suspended 21 years ago. For 10-12 years, I kept it inside . . . That’s changed. I’m a different guy . . . I love the fans, I love the game of baseball, and I love Cincinnati baseball.”"

With Rose authoring a tearful apology, a side people rarely see of Pete, this shows me that Rose is genuine here. As far as the rest, I do take issue with. I am a Reds fan, but I am also a realist.

Somebody that come forward, huh? Many years after the fact and after much conjecture within not only the sports world, but the world period. And Rose’s “way” of publicly coming forward was none too redeeming either, through print in his book titled My Prison Without Bars. Charles Gibson of ABC also interviewed Rose on his admission of his sin against baseball in conjunction with the book’s release. Come clean and bank a buck. The lights are on and the camera’s are rolling. Not becoming of a “king”, but the atmosphere and publicity was too much to deny.

A couple of years before the book’s release, Rose and good friend Mike Schmidt, who has long fought Rose’s reinstatement, met with MLB commissioner Bud Selig to discuss Rose’s ban. During this meeting, it is presumed that Rose confessed of gambling on baseball to Selig. Selig had also previously permitted Rose to be part of the All-Century Team celebration during Game 2 of the 1999 World Series. Now the celebration in Cincy.

Just last summer, more talk evolved about Rose possibly being reinstated by Selig. This would open the door to possible election to the Hall of Fame. The timing of this rumor was beyond unnerving. It was the time where baseball was to enshrine its newest members into the Hall of Fame. How could this issue even have been unearthed during this time of the season?

Some have opined or questioned if Selig is softening his stance on Rose. Pardon the pun here, but don’t bet on it. Those are extremely long odds. I’m not sure Vegas would even conjure up a line on that. Enough of the gambling bit.

To this day, Selig views Rose as partially responsible for then-commissioner Bart Giamatti’s death. The stress and strain of the investigation took its toll on Giamatti in Selig’s eyes. Selig is merely allowing Rose some of the recognition he deserves. The fans voted Rose to the All-Century Team, not Selig. The Cincinnati fans thirsted for a means to display their adoration for Rose, not Selig. View it as giving in to the fans, not Rose.

After all the pomp and circumstance of the Rose lovefest festivities, I was watching Baseball Tonight on ESPN. John Kruk and Nomar Garciaparra stated they thought it was time baseball allowed Rose “back into the fold”, so to speak. They felt Rose could be one to counsel individuals about issues he has struggled with.

This is where I slammed on the brakes on my brain. The screeching sound almost deafening. I asked myself, aloud, a question.

How could baseball, in its right mind, consider one to counsel anyone on the evils of gambling when that person still does not have those demons conquered?

I ask this as a lifelong fan of the Reds. I ask this as a fan of Pete Rose. I ask this as a fan of baseball.

It does not take a Rhodes Scholar to surmise an answer here. You don’t. In all honesty, you simply can’t. Look at the evidence before you. It is known that Pete still loves to play the horses. His roast was at a casino of all places. That screams of a still lingering aspect of gambling entrenched in his life.

I know Rose is attempting to make amends for the years of his arrogance and countless denials. I get it. I applaud him for it. Everyone deserves a second chance. Toss any fitting cliche’ up into the air relating to this topic and I promise it will fit.

Don’t get me wrong here. I would love for Rose to receive his due and be permitted to work in baseball on some level. Managing would not be in the works, but in some capacity. Despite his guffaws and stumbles, those in the game do have an appreciation for him. They know how Rose was respected by his teammates and disliked by his opponents. That creates an edge. They know of the passion he displayed on the field. Not one person that ever watched Rose play could ever doubt “Charlie Hustle” and his love of the game. He displyed that vigor with every at-bat, every pitch.

As I said, I’m also a realist. I would love for Rose to receive his due and be placed in Cooperstown. I do not enjoy being pessimistic here, but that’s not something in which I’m going to hold my breath.