Rose is going to carry that weight

January 18, 2004|by MARK KELLER

Once upon a time, Pete Rose was my hero.

I was just gaining an understanding of sports in the mid-1970s, the heyday of Cincinnati's Big Red Machine.

I could still rattle off the starting lineup of those great teams, though I struggle a little when it comes to the pitchers. Of course, that team was not as much about the pitchers as it was the solid hitters that went at opposing pitching staffs.

Rose, Johnny Bench, Joe Morgan, Tony Perez, George Foster ... I loved them all, but Pete was always my favorite.

No Major League player has done more with less talent than Rose - and he would admit that himself.

He was the epitome of the throwback player, always with a dirty uniform, always giving everything he had.

Maybe that's why I've been so disappointed by his half-hearted "apology" for gambling on baseball.

I was never foolish enough to think that Rose did not bet on baseball. Maybe I believed it for a short time, but reality set in soon enough.


Rose is 14 years late with his admission of guilt, while fans - and I count myself as a Pete Rose fan - are still awaiting a show of contrition.

To say "I think the fans know I realize my mistake" and think that equates to "I'm sorry" is ludicrous.

To say "Yes, I bet on baseball" and expect all to be forgiven within hours is foolish.

To do this while stealing the spotlight from Paul Molitor and Dennis Eckersley - who should have been celebrating their own Hall of Fame inductions but were instead answering questions about Rose - is plain rude.

I've made enough mistakes in my own life to know that admitting an error is just the beginning of a sometimes painful healing process.

Rose said he felt relieved when he admitted to betting on baseball, that he felt as if a huge weight had been lifted from him.

What he fails to realize is that he took that weight and dropped it on us. And he wants us to open the door - to baseball and to the Hall of Fame - while we're carrying the weight.

Sorry, Pete. Our hands are kind of full right now.

Mark Keller is sports editor of The Herald-Mail. His column appears every Sunday. He can be reached at 301-733-5131, ext. 2332, or by e-mail at

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