Hate to say it, but it's hard to embrace a loving Rose

The Kickoff

March 16, 2007|By PETER SCHMUCK

FORT LAUDERDALE, Fla. — FORT LAUDERDALE, Fla.-- -- Pete Rose's latest attempt to gain public sympathy and eventual admission to the Baseball Hall of Fame got me to thinking.

Why doesn't every major league manager bet on his team every night?

What better way to show the players that he has confidence in them, while adding an extra layer of intensity in the dugout.

I'm surprised that nobody thought of this a long time ago, because Pete isn't exactly the shiniest pebble in the pond. The manager could even post on the lineup card how much action he has on the ballclub, so the players are clear on the importance of each individual game.

Pete summed it up nicely when he explained to ESPN radio host Dan Patrick that he bet on every game "because I love my team."

It all makes sense now. I could never understand why somebody as revered and successful as Rose would put his financial security and his baseball legacy on the line to make a few hundred bucks per game. If this were just about greed, don't you think he would have bet on a team with a more capable manager?

What a great guy.

Mystery solved

If you're like me, you've always wondered what goes on during those conferences on the mound. Now, I think I have a pretty good idea what Rose and his pitcher were usually talking about:

Rose: How ya feeling?

Pitcher: My arm is killing me?

Rose: I need you to go two more innings.

Pitcher: Why?

Rose: Because I love you.

Let's get serious

Before you give Rose any credit for coming completely clean, consider that the act of a manager betting on his own team is only slightly less onerous than betting against it.

The responsibility of the manager isn't, as Rose would like you to believe, to do everything possible to win every game. It is to do everything possible to put your team in position to win as many games as possible. That might seem like a subtle distinction, but it's not.

The long-term well-being of a player may - at times - come into conflict with the short-term goal of winning a particular game. The manager has to make decisions that are in the overall best interest of the team, and that thought process inevitably would be corrupted by a wager on the game.

Fair question

After 18 years of dissembling, Rose has come out with a statement that sounds like a full confession, which raises a troubling question:

Why should we believe him now?

Personally, having covered baseball during the latter part of Rose's playing career and throughout his managerial career, I believe he was far too competitive to bet against the team he was managing. But after nearly two decades of diminishing denials and piecemeal admissions, who's to say that he isn't saving another startling revelation for the next time he needs to sell a book?

Tough call

Is this the final proof that Rose should never get into the Hall of Fame or the cleansing moment that will lead to the rehabilitation of his legacy?

I have long contended that Rose should be judged on his playing career, which would argue for his eventual induction since the behavior that led to his lifetime ban took place while he was a manager, but the situation gets murkier with every new twist in his tawdry tale.

There are plenty of players installed at Cooperstown who were shady characters, but each generation has to make its own ethical judgments. Part of me still thinks that Pete Rose the player should have his plaque, but none of me thinks that Pete Rose the human being is getting a raw deal.

Was that a copout?

Some people would say that it was. Some would say that it wasn't. I feel strongly both ways.

peter.schmuck@baltsun.com

The Peter Schmuck Show airs on WBAL (1090 AM) at noon on Saturdays.

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