Rose should apologize before reinstatement

The World Series will not be remembered as an overwhelming defeat of the Braves by a marvelous Yankees team that people love to hate.
That would be too easy.
Instead, it will be remembered as the pedestal for NBC’s Jim Gray and his interrogation of Pete Rose (a la the McLaughlin Group).
Wrong, next issue.
Gray did press the issue too far in his line of questioning following the ceremony, especially in light of the All-Century team presentations that preceded the interview. Since Rose refused to discuss it, Gray was essentially beating a dead horse.
Not that Rose is Mr. Innocent. Rose somewhat forced Gray’s hand in the matter with his refusal and stubbornness.
Still, there are many who would never ask the questions Gray did, but deep down wanted the answers to those questions.
Following Chad Curtis’ game-winning home run in Game 3, he refused to talk to Gray.
“As a team we kind of decided, because of what happened to Pete, we’re not going to talk on the field,” said Curtis.
Rose, by the way, was signing autographs in a New Jersey casino before coming to Atlanta.
These twists in the Rose saga and the widespread outcry from fans over the Gray-Rose interview are obstructing a more confusing issue.
Why are fans, including the Yankees, willing to take a bullet for this guy?
The same Yankees team full of unselfish and classy superstars that refused to talk to Gray is the same team that employs long-time drug dabbler and family-guy Darryl Strawberry. This high-class move comes from the same team that employed five-time (at least) drug loser Steve Howe.
Rose signed a lifetime ban from baseball in 1989 that says he neither admitted nor denied that he bet on Reds games while he was the manager.
In the hypocritical world of sports, it says something that Howe can play after five drug suspensions and Leon Lett can put the pads on after three trips to the shelf — but Rose doesn’t get a second chance.
At this point, he still doesn’t deserve one. If he is so innocent of what banned him from baseball, then why are there betting slips with his fingerprints on them? If he is so innocent, why did he sign the lifetime ban in the first place? Where is the concrete evidence in his defense? It has been a decade now.
He must be silent-treatment buddies with Clem Haskins.
Now Rose has announced he’s stepping up the “heat” to have himself reinstated into baseball and inducted into the Hall of Fame. He has launched a Web site: www.sportcut.com, at which people can vote as to whether or not the ban should be lifted, thus allowing him a chance at the Hall of Fame.
He also has informed commissioner Bud Selig that he has new evidence to bolster his case. Roger Makley, one of Rose’s lawyers, is supposed to meet with baseball’s top lawyer in December or January. Rose hopes this will be the start toward his reinstatement.
Rose has applied for reinstatement a couple times before, but Selig’s office has largely ignored his letters, leaving Rose with no answer.
Still, it is Rose’s refusal to tell the truth that should force Major League Baseball to keep his idiotic and disrespectful attitudes about everything the game stands for in the closet.
As for the flood of fan support, Rose — who received a by far louder ovation that night in Atlanta than Hank Aaron — continues to use those fans to fuel his resistance toward his self-inflicted problems.
Why didn’t those who cheered for him realize they were cheering for a man who loved the game so much that he bet on his own team’s games?
Even if he only bet on his team to win, he violated the one trust that fans, ticket-buyers and the game itself demand: The product on the field must be real and legit. No matter how flawed in performance or conduct, it must be real. No compromises.
The first question Gray asked, immediately following the ovation: “It seems as though there is an opening. The American public is very forgiving. Are you willing to show contrition, admit that you bet on baseball and make some sort of apology to that effect?”
Rose: “No, no, Jim, not at all. I’m not going to admit to something that didn’t happen.”
It’s all further proof that Rose either refuses to, or just doesn’t, get it. After a decade, there are no indications that he has anything more to present in his defense. Whatever he has construed this time around, it can’t hold any weight to the evidence against him.
“If you believe his (John Dowd, who compiled the report against Rose in ’89) handwriting expert, why not believe mine?” Rose said. “If you believe his gambling expert, why not believe mine? Hold your breath and give my people a chance to speak.”
Baseball has held its breath for 10 years, and has long since run out of air.
All it would take from his side are two words: “I’m sorry.” Those two words would grant him the opportunity to return to baseball and get his spot in the Hall of Fame. Until then, he has nothing but fluff to stake his claims on, whether now or in January.
No sincere apology, no public service, no sympathy, no dice.
No wonder they called him “Charlie Hustle.”

Mark Heller covers women’s basketball and welcomes comments at [email protected]