A day after Rob Manfred declined to reinstate Pete Rose, the Hit King held a press conference. Rose has never cared much about optics and now that it basically doesn’t matter what he does, it should not be at all surprising that he held his press conference in Las Vegas. With cheerleaders. Which, as far as I’m concerned is all aces. There’s something liberating about having nothing to lose, and at least as far as organized baseball is concerned, Rose has nothing left to lose. Be yourself, hombre.
As for the substance, Rose had nothing new to add. He continues to draw false equivalencies between gamblers and steroid users as it suits him. He continues to self-promote, saying “to be honest with you I should be the commissioner of baseball the way I sell and talk about the game.” Not that honesty is his strong suit, at least according to Commissioner Manfred’s decision yesterday. To that point, Rose said “I tried to be as honest as I could with the Commissioner and I think he appreciated that.” That’s a telling comment, even if it was unintentional. It’s not that he was honest. Or that he even attempted to be actually honest. He merely tried to be as honest as he could. There are some limits, here. Mrs. Rose didn’t raise no fools.
The thing is, there was really nothing new to be honest about. Rose’s record of gambling and lying about it and changing his story here, there and back again over the past 26 years is an open book. Rose himself had done nothing special or different to inspire Manfred to reopen his case. It was a gift from Manfred, really. A fresh opportunity for Rose to give a new commissioner a chance to do something that would be popular right out of the gate. Maybe it was always doomed. Maybe Rose simply whiffed on a grooved fastball. Watching Rose speak a few minutes ago, I don’t think Rose himself even knew.
That’s admirable in some twisted way. Rose mentioned, several times, that he is just living the life he has. That he’s being himself. That betting on a game once in a while because it brings him enjoyment. I believe that. I certainly believe that more than I believed Rose when he claimed to realize he had a gambling addiction ten or eleven years ago. For a minute or two there it seemed like he was willing to play along with the redemption story as most would author it. Then he stopped doing that and now takes the view that he doesn’t have a problem and who is Rob Frickin’ Manfred to say that he does?
I actually don’t begrudge him that. While, if he truly is an addict I would hope that he seeks help for it at some point, he’s an American citizen with some means and the right to do anything legal he wishes to do. Including gamble on sports. If he stays within the law and doesn’t harm others we’re in no position to tell him what’s better to do with his life, even if we personally find it regrettable.
It’s just that Rose living his best, chosen life is totally incompatible with being reinstated to baseball given his past transgressions. And that he either can’t understand or refuses to accept that is the reason he’s not in baseball anymore. Not anything Rob Manfred or anyone else has done to him.