Among other things, the 2015 MLB All-Star Game was to be a celebration of baseball’s all-time hit king. Though still banned from baseball for life, Pete Rose had been permitted to be part of the show for the hometown fans at Cincinnati’s Great American Ball Park.

But so much for that. According to the latest news, now is not a time for celebrating Rose.

On Monday, William Weinbaum and T.J. Quinn of ESPN’s Outside the Lines dropped a bombshell. Though it was already common knowledge that Rose had bet on baseball while he was managing the Cincinnati Reds, a crime that earned him a lifetime banishment in 1989, new evidence has emerged that Rose gambled on baseball while he was a player as well.

This new evidence exists in the form of pages from a notebook seized from one of Rose’s former associates. Their content includes Rose’s betting records from March through July of his final season as a player in 1986. And though they show no evidence that Rose bet against the Reds, they do show that he didn’t refrain from betting on games he was playing in.

Gut, meet punch.

It took until 2004 for Rose to admit that he had bet on games as a manager. But in the years since, he’s repeatedly insisted that he never bet on games as a player. So if nothing else, Monday’s report is the latest reminder that Rose is an incorrigible liar who has little interest in owning up to his misdeeds.

That’s a bad look. But incredibly, it gets worse.

John Dowd, the former federal prosecutor who led MLB’s initial investigation into Rose’s gambling back in the ’80s, called the uncovered documents “the final piece of the puzzle on a New York betting operation with organized crime,” per Weinbaum and Quinn’s report.

For Rose himself, they support the charge that he was betting through mob-connected bookies. Knowing that Rose was hundreds of thousands of dollars of debt at the time he was banned in 1989, this means he owed a lot of money to the wrong people.

“The implications for baseball are terrible,” Dowd told Weinbaum and Quinn. “[The mob] had a mortgage on Pete while he was a player and manager.”

Those are some bad implications, all right. And no matter which way you look at this, there’s no ignoring that the timing couldn’t be any worse.

Remember when things were looking up for Rose? You should be able to. All you have to do is think back to what things were like before Monday.

In the wake of Rob Manfred taking over for Bud Selig as MLB’s commissioner in January, Rose officially filed a formal request for reinstatement in March. In response, Manfred vowed to consider Rose’s request “on its merits,” per’s Mark Saxon.

To be sure, that was hardly Manfred making a promise. But it was him leaving the door open, and he seemed to nudge the door open a little wider in late April when he and Reds owner Bob Castellini agreed to allow Rose to have a role in July’s All-Star festivities at Great American Ball Park.

“I’ve agreed with Mr. Castellini that we’re going to have a conversation about what specific kind of participation the Reds are interested in, and we have not had that conversation yet,” Manfred said, per “You can rest assured that he will be allowed to participate in some of the activities.”

Nothing more specific has come down the pipeline in the ensuing weeks. Either the Reds and Manfred were having trouble agreeing on what role Rose would play, or they did and were simply choosing to keep it under wraps.

Either way, you can’t help but use your imagination.

Perhaps the 2015 All-Star Game could have been for Rose what the 1999 All-Star Game at Fenway Park was for Ted Williams. Not unlike what they did in 2010 when they celebrated his record-setting 4,192nd hit, maybe the Reds would have made Rose the center of attention on the field prior to the game, much to the delight of the many thousands of faithful Reds fans packed into Great American Ball Park.

Even something more subdued than that still could have resulted in Rose stealing the show. As a result, Manfred might have gotten the sense that public opinion was in favor of MLB finally forgiving Rose.

But now? No way. Just no way.

If Rose is still allowed to partake in the All-Star festivities, be it in the spotlight or in the shadows, what might have been a happy occasion will instead be decidedly awkward. Rose’s abilities to put on a brave face and say the right things will be relentlessly tested. For those who still feel like celebrating him, many will have to force smiles.

And then there’s how people outside the ballpark will be reacting. After turning things as trivial as Mariano Rivera not closing out the 2013 All-Star Game and Adam Wainwright grooving a pitch to Derek Jeter in the 2014 All-Star Game into hellfire controversies, you can, ahem, bet that television and social media would rush to get bent out of shape over Rose’s presence at the Midsummer Classic.

As such, it seems likely that Rose’s involvement in the All-Star Game will be scrubbed altogether. After all, the last thing MLB needs at its biggest annual baseball celebration is a public relations nightmare. 

And yet, even keeping Rose out of the proceedings will probably only help so much. This being the year 2015, television and social media surely wouldn’t do MLB the favor of ignoring the Rose story just because he’s not in Cincinnati to put his face to it.

So no matter what happens with Rose, you can expect this latest story to cast a dark cloud over the All-Star Game. For baseball, that means a lost opportunity for what would have essentially been a positive homecoming narrative. Obviously, the same goes for Rose.

Though, what presumably mattered more to Rose was using the All-Star Game to score some points with Manfred. That’s another opportunity that’s been lost, and that’s also a case of bad timing.

As Jon Heyman of CBS Sports reported in late May, Rose and Manfred are set for a face-to-face meeting about his reinstatement sometime after the All-Star Game. Had Monday’s report not surfaced and Rose had gone on to win the crowd at the All-Star Game, that meeting might have pushed Rose’s reinstatement closer to reality than it’s been at any point in the last 26 years.

But since Monday’s report did surface, Rose’s case for reinstatement probably won’t budge an inch in that meeting. Though the latest news doesn’t necessarily make him any guiltier than he already wasCraig Calcaterra of Hardball Talk and others have noted thisthat it exposes his many years of lying about betting on baseball as a player doesn’t do him any favors. He may not be more guilty, but he certainly looks less deserving of forgiveness.

In all, Monday’s report is not a positive development for anyone.

The conversation about Rose had been skewing more toward sympathetic in the wake of his request for reinstatement and the news of his upcoming role at the All-Star Game. Now it’s once again about his being baseball’s ultimate villain, one who has no business being forgiven by anyone. 

This conversation will be front, center and certainly loud during the All-Star Game. For baseball, that will mean unwelcome bad buzz. And for Rose, it could mean whatever hope he had for reinstatement going out the window for good.


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