© St. Petersburg Times, published March 23, 2003
For 12 years, since he should have become Hall of Fame eligible, I've been saying Pete Rose belongs in Cooperstown.
I'm not for removing Ty Cobb from the Hall, even if the dynamic old ballplayer was a racist worth our scorn. Babe Ruth belongs, though the textbook slugger was a despicable womanizer.
If a jury had convicted O.J. Simpson of double murder, my vote would've been nay on ejecting the great runner from the Pro Football Hall of Fame.
Halls honor feats, not humanity.
Even so, in my Charlie Hustle tune, let's change the second verse. Rose should never again be allowed to hold a job in baseball. Not as manager or coach or hot-dog vendor.
Pete is a gambler. Manipulator. Bonehead. His world should've been perfect but Rose abused it. Charlie Hustle has embarrassed the sport that made him. He should be allowed no regular or extensive contact with major-league actives.
Dave Kindred of the Sporting News writes that John Dowd, while investigating Rose, found that 388 wagers involving $852,400 were made by the then-manager of the Reds in just half the 1987 season. Any guess at Pete's lifetime total?
An addict. A shame.
I don't know if Rose bet against his team, but I suspect so. I don't know if, as manager, he made moves for gambling reasons, but I suspect so.
I'm for enshrining Rose at Cooperstown because of what was done prior through his 14,053rd and final at-bat in 1986. Judging him as a player. Nothing more.
Bud Selig appears to be brokering a Hall wall for Rose. I'm okay with that, because of a record 4,256 hits and 15 seasons in 17 with a .300-plus batting average as trigger man of a Cincinnati colossus called the Big Red Machine.
Beyond that, Selig should bolt baseball's door regarding any official or regular role for Rose. I don't want Charlie Hustle in locker rooms, dugouts or around batting cages, interacting with today's athletes.
Let him appear at special ceremonies, like opening day. Let him tip a ballcap to patrons still prone to vociferously cheer. Let him, all chubby and wobbly as Pete turns 63 next month, participate in old-timers games.
All the good stuff because Rose played baseball for 24 seasons with a zeal that was beyond honorable and talent that ranked him with the game's best. Beyond that, Rose merits our frowns, doubts and disrespect for post-1986 actions unbecoming a hero.
IMPRESSIONS: His final UCLA season was rotten, but Steve Lavin's full run with the Bruins exuded many qualities and much personal class. A coach worthy of a major job someplace where expectations are not John Wooden-drenched. How about you guys, Virginia Tech? ... When the subject is Tug McGraw, always remember Ya Gotta Believe!
DAWG SHOW: He was an eloquent, creative winner in football, but Vince Dooley keeps proving that old coaches are seldom good choices for ultra-demanding roles as 21st century athletic directors. ... Jim Harrick materialized as a world-class goof-up in California, so should the three strikes rule apply, with his off-court flubs at UCLA followed by arrogant stumbles at Rhode Island and Georgia? ... Nah, sadly, once his time with the Bulldogs is in ashes, the basketball tramp will be hired by some other ill-advised school foolish enough to allow Harrick a chance to become a four-time loser.
OUCH!: My back twitched upon angrily retrieving a golf ball from the cup, having dropped a 2-footer for triple bogey, and I couldn't help recalling Tiger Woods' explanation of why he reaches down so slowly after making a putt:
"Over the long haul -- 20, 30 or 40 years of playing golf," he explained, "you never put yourself in danger of doing damage." Wow, is this well researched or what?
But, hey, I'm way ahead of golf's emperor in controlling the smash of my high fives upon making eagles. Oh, yeah, copy me, Tiger. You keep erupting over heroic holes but I'm saving myself; this being my 40th year of expertly avoiding eagles. A record you'll never match.
Whatever happened to Stefan Edberg?