Why Rose can't escape himself

Updated: July 27, 2009, 5:57 PM ET
By Buster Olney
MLB commissioner Bud Selig is said to be seriously mulling a pardon for Pete Rose, Bill Madden writes. A pardon would clear the way for Rose to make it into the Hall of Fame. When I first saw the story, I was surprised to feel this: total ambivalence.

Rose was an extraordinary player whose passion for success is reflected in his remarkable records: the most hits, the sixth-most runs scored, the second-most doubles. The record that might go more to the heart of what Rose was as a player is that he played in more games than anyone else and by a significant margin. He was a great player who holds a unique place in the game's history. This is inarguable.

And so is this: During the past two decades, his behavior has been appalling. He has been nothing less than a lowlife.

Rose knew the rules about gambling. He broke the rules. He was asked about breaking the rules, and he lied, blatantly and often and for more than a decade. Rose publicly lobbied for reinstatement, but when it seemed the commissioner was thinking about bringing him back a few years ago and the time came for him to show proper penance, he chose to use the moment to try to market a book.

If he's reinstated, that really doesn't ensure that the Veterans Committee would vote him into the Hall of Fame. Undoubtedly, some members of that committee will argue that Rose always has considered himself to be above the rules, and given that, some won't want him in the club.

But quite frankly, Rose's legacy won't be affected one way or another by his inclusion into the Hall of Fame.

If he's honored at Cooperstown, he'll always be a dishonored former star. And he'll sell the moment.

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