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January 31, 2003

by Bill Hogan


"Someone's knocking on the door", baseball commissioner Selig, "somebody's ringing the bell" – it's Pete Rose, again – do me a huge favor: either open the damn door or release the hounds. One way or the other, it makes no difference to me; I'm just sick and tired of listening to, and reading about, the whole Pete Rose saga.

In 1989, Bart Giamatti banned Pete Rose from baseball for life. Now Rose and Bud Selig are "negotiating" his possible reinstatement (which would certainly lead to his induction into the Hall of Fame).


Anybody who has ever held a baseball has an opinion on the subject but Hall of Fame pitcher Warren Spahn said it best in a statement published in the New York Daily News: "Get Pete Rose out of my life!" Warren Spahn feels my pain.

I don't want to hear any more about Martha Stewart's problems with the SEC, I don't want to 'sit down to breakfast' with Ozzy Osbourne – or Ozzy Nelson for that matter – and I don't want to peek inside Anna Nichole Smith's bedroom.

I could care less about which "lucky lady" Joe Millionaire picks, whether The Bachelor ever gets married or how much weight that boob from the Subway commercials lost. (He dropped 250 big ones by holding the cheddar and mayo on the triple meat combo – yea right).

I don't want to see Mick Jagger in concert anymore. Isn't there an unwritten Rock & Roll rule that if the caps on your teeth are older than the groupie you're trying to lure back to the hotel, it's time to pack it in? (While I'm on the subject: what the hell is keeping Keith Richards alive?)

And I don't want to hear about, read about or think about Pete Rose. There is such a thing as overexposure. This incessant debate over "should he or shouldn't he" brings beating a dead horse to a stratospheric level.

C'mon, Bud, either reinstate Rose and put him in the Hall of Fame, or sit him down and explain the meaning of "lifetime suspension" (I'm sure Giamatti wasn't thinking in terms of the life expectancy of a golden retriever). The latter seems more justified, but any decision that puts the matter to rest is o.k. by me.

But I wonder if Rose would be as popular if he was no longer on the outside looking in. If he has no 'worthy' cause to rally his fans does he risk slipping into obscurity? And if so, would he be as dogged in his appeal to take his 'rightful place' in the Hall of Fame?

It's obvious that the promotion of Pete Rose is every bit as important as the redemption of Pete Rose. A bust in Cooperstown is the greatest honor that can be bestowed upon a baseball player. But will it sell more autographed baseballs (available online for $89 – it'll cost you an extra Jackson to have "hit king" scribbled under the signature)?

I guess that depends on how many times he can work www.peterose.com into his induction speech. If I were Pete, I'd slip on that nifty black, adjustable strap, peterose.com ball cap (available online for $19.95) at the ceremony.

If you're interested – and I'd be shocked if you were – other items available at the official Pete Rose website include: A limited edition Louisville Slugger autographed baseball bat for $529, an autographed number 14 Cincinnati Reds jersey – a bargain at $749 and a 16x20 black and white photo of Rose's first at-bat in 1963 for a mere $429.

I'll take one of each on the condition that I never have to hear another conversation about whether or not Pete Rose bet on baseball, lied about it or belongs in the Hall of Fame.

So make a decision, Bud. And put us all out of our misery. The only thing more nauseating than reading daily about Rose's tax woes and gambling exploits is watching Corey Feldman try to resurrect his dead and buried career on The Surreal Life.

Besides, MLB has more important issues to worry about. I conducted my own Pete Rose "should he, shouldn't he" opinion poll among some of the Hogan's Alley readership. The most alarming response addresses Bud Selig's greatest concern: "To be honest with you I really do not care about baseball or the Hall of Fame anymore."


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