Tuesday, January 6, 2004
Updated: January 7, 5:44 PM ET
Rose book another gamble
By Scott Ridge
The epilogue of "Pete Rose: My Prison Without Bars" contains the following admission from baseball's Hit King:
"I still enjoy gambling at the racetrack, which has always been my favorite pastime. But I've learned to distinguish between the legal and the illegal bets, which is what got me into trouble in the first place. There is a difference between 'getting' into trouble and 'staying' in trouble."
For a man who's looking to return from a lifetime ban that's approaching 15 years, Rose is not making commissioner Bud Selig's decision on reinstatement any easier.
It's a little like an alcoholic saying light beer is OK.
But reinstatement is not Charlie Hustle's ultimate goal.
ESPN The Magazine's Tim Kurkjian wrote last November that reinstatement for Rose "would be the equivalent of hitting a single."
Rose, who's fifth on the Reds' all-time list for wins as a manager, wants to resume filling out lineup cards, flashing signals and striding to the mound to lift another pitcher.
The question looms: Is Rose's continued gambling a deal-breaker for his return to baseball in any capacity.
A source told ESPN.com's Jayson Stark that Rose's wagering is a significant concern to Major League Baseball.
One thing is clear in Rose's "prison." He is a man still conflicted by what he calls his "risk-craving behavior."
Rose reveals he's a lifetime sufferer of Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder, which is thought to be caused in part by a chemical imbalance in the brain.
Chapter 15 opens with Rose recounting the inspirational struggle of Jim Eisenreich, a 15-year major-league veteran who battled Tourette's syndrome, another neurological disorder caused by a chemical imbalance.
Rose also recalls watching a TV program about celebrities and addictions. He writes about seeing similarities in his own life with other athletes, politicians and entertainers who have suffered from forms of addiction and obsessive-compulsive behavior.
"They all had obsessive habits that caused setbacks in their lives -- just like me," Rose writes. "But they all had something I didn't have. During the course of their TV interviews, Jamie Lee Curtis, Tom Arnold and Ann Richards each talked about the importance of 'hope' -- something I was deprived of by Baseball's lifetime ban. They all said hope gave them the strength to carry on. Despite their problems or mistakes, Tom Arnold, Jamie Lee Curtis, Robert Downey Jr. and Winona Ryder were still allowed to make movies. Ann Richards was still involved in politics. Pat Summerall returned to television after recovering from alcoholism. Even Marv Albert returned to the broadcast booth with NBC after his brush with the law. They were all allowed to resume work in their individual professions. But I was not allowed to step foot on a baseball field. Banned for life without the possibility of parole. I had no hope."
No hope and apparently no real motivation to get help.
"I should have had the opportunity to get help," he writes, "but baseball had no fancy rehab for gamblers like they do for drug addicts."
Which bring us back to whether he should be allowed back in the game.
Before this week, all signs pointed to the Hit King becoming eligible for the Hall of Fame in the next two years.
That may still be the case. As for trying to stretch his reinstatement all the way back to a major-league dugout, Charlie Hustle appears to have stumbled badly rounding first.
Scott Ridge is the baseball editor at ESPN.com.