Now comes the fun part -- seeing how many contortions the Pete Rose-To-Cooperstown lobbyists can perform now that Twister has been found insufficient for their needs.
The revelations by ESPN’s Outside The Lines that Rose bet on the Cincinnati Reds as a player, which contradict his last set of amended claims about his extensive gambling problems, further damage his chances of being reinstated by Major League Baseball for Hall of Fame eligibility.
How much they damage them, of course, is open to conjecture, since “banned from the game for life” would seem to be a fairly binary state. Besides, commissioner Rob Manfred was ushered into his present role by longtime Rose opponent Bud Selig, and it seems unlikely that Manfred would have turned on policy for a crusade that frankly has lost a good deal of its outrage-fueled steam in the past decade or so.
One can speculate freely about where OTL got the latest goods on Rose, because, well, it’s not a bad thing to know. But unless Rose’s people can prove that their documents have been falsified, the facts remain the facts, and Rose will have been found to have lied about the level of his involvement for yet a fourth time. And the only frontier left is evidence that he may have bet against his own team.
It is not that far a stretch, either. People with gambling addictions do not have very useful governors when it comes to what to do and what to avoid, so given his tattered veracity to date, Rose’s continued protestations that he never bet against his own team ring even more hollow than before.
What is more, baseball’s interest in reinstating him would seem to be even fainter than before. Looking like fools to pursue a course of action is tolerable once, maybe even twice, but four times with the possibility of a fifth is playing the very longest of shots.
So it is that Rose’s image, the one thing he could still sell, has just been broadsided again. He denied as recently as April that he bet as a player, and that to Michael Kay’s New York radio show. Kay, who happens to also be a radio voice of the New York Yankees, can only feel very sour about being played so brazenly.
But it also shows how much some baseball traditionalists still wanted to believe in Rose, and some will remain until the moment if/when he is found to have bet against his team, whether it would have been Cincinnati or Philadelphia (the notebooks OTL gained access to cover only 1986, when he was a Red, but anything is possible and can no longer be discounted). He has had a small but strident group of proponents who hold up his hit total as sufficient evidence that he is a Hall of Famer, and they will doubtless cling to that even now.
But with these revelations, Rose has used up all the available good will, what little there might have been, outside that tight circle, and unless he and his lawyer, Raymond Genco, have a way of disproving the evidence -- at let’s face it, outside a courtroom and in the matter of reconciliation with baseball, Rose’s litany of falsehoods in this area make him the one responsible for proving his innocence rather than the reverse.
Thus, his long odds have been lengthened even more, because he never figured out that coming clean means coming all the way clean. He may have had no choice if the final destination of his gambling saga lies beyond this signpost, but there are only so many times you can swear you haven’t done something and then been found to have done it.
And even in baseball, which like any other company looks the other way for as long as its corporate neck can allow it, that’s a bit more than much.