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Published: Wednesday, 1/7/2004

Rose: best and worst of baseball

Pete Rose is a walking, talking infomercial. He s constantly selling a piece of himself for a quick buck - another autobiography, his signature on his baseball card, you name it.

He d sell his soul to the devil to become a member of the Hall of Fame.

Charlie Hustle the hustler.

A real snake in the grass.

“Trust me,” he lied in 1989. “I never bet on baseball.”

We fell for Rose s con. At least some of us did. We wanted to believe the good, ignore the bad.

Still do.

Just my opinion, but why couldn t Rose come clean?

So he lied. We re a forgiving people if the guilty party apologizes and shows remorse.

A simple “I m sorry” would have sufficed.

Rose couldn t say it.

Wouldn t say it.

Still won t.

Rose is, and always will be, a baseball icon, right up there with the best who ever played.

Nothing has happened to change that.

Not even Rose s money-driven confessional that he bet on baseball, as often as four and five times a week, when he was managing the Cincinnati Reds.

On the one hand, it s not an easy call for commissioner Bud Selig, who is bending over backwards to accommodate Rose.

Selig is torn because he believes Rose s popularity with fans is good for baseball.

Selig has treated Rose much better than he deserves.

Rose s conduct has been self-serving and contemptible.

He should be groveling at Selig s feet. Instead, he s getting ready to cash in on his indiscretions.

According to Rose s new autobiography, which shall go nameless here, Rose says he told Selig in 2002 that he bet on baseball.

Before you spend $24.95 to read the rest of the story, backtrack to P.T. Barnum, who said there s a sucker born every minute.

Rose is telling the truth now because he has to, not because he wants to.

Or his latest version of the truth.

For 14 years he told us he didn t bet on baseball games.

Now this.

How can we believe anything he says?

The only thing we know for certain is that Rose was a fabulous baseball player.

Those 4,256 career hits are real.

Time is running out on Rose.

He applied for reinstatement in 1997.

His last chance to appear on the sports writers Hall of Fame ballot is December 2005.

After that, he could only be voted in by the veterans committee, which is unlikely.

Rose wants our sympathy.

He deserves our disdain.

But despite violating the public s trust, there should be a special wing in the Hall of Fame identifying him as the best and worst in baseball.

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