Pete Rose, moral conscience of baseball.
Mr. Rose, the guy who has been in purgatory for a long, long time because he is a Ramblin' Gamblin' Man, has some very good advice for another baseball bad boy, Alex Rodriguez.
"We have to get these people to understand that if you make mistakes, people will forgive you if you come forward," Rose told USA Today Tuesday. "Don't do like I did. Don't do like [Ryan] Braun did. Don't do like A-Rod did."
Pete is spot on, although it's obvious that A-Rod is going to lawyer-up big time with the appeals process after Major League Baseball threw a fastball at his head Monday — a 211-game suspension, alleging that Rodriguez used performance-enhancing drugs and then did a nifty cover-up trying to obstruct the investigation.
Rodriguez didn't admit to much of anything in a press conference in Chicago Monday night, although he did acknowledge that he was a "human being" while also giving a shout out to Hispanics across the globe. Somewhere in Cuba, Fidel and Raul Castro must have beamed with pride.
Rodriguez doesn't quite sink as low as sleazy dictator level, but he is guilty of committing one of baseball's deadly sins. Mr. Rose knows all about that. He's admitted to betting on baseball — another of those deadly sins — and remains ineligible for induction in the Baseball Hall of Fame.
Pete remains a pariah. But all this steroids nonsense that predates Rodriguez should get one re-thinking the Rose situation and whether he deserves to be shamed forevermore.
I say "no." Better yet, let me scream it: "NO!"
Pete had a penchant for betting on his team, the Cincinnati Reds. As a manager, Rose obviously much sway in the outcome. But he wasn't trying to game the system by benching his clean-up hitter every night.
"I bet on my team to win every night because I love my team, I believe in my team," Rose once said. "I did everything in my power every night to win that game."
Rodriguez, Braun and all the rest of those steroid sleazeballs did everything in their power to game the system. Their juiced-up ability altered outcome of games. And lesser players who juiced to stay in the game stole jobs from those who weren't cheating sleazeballs.
And guess what? Braun gets to play again next season. A-Rod may also play eventually, assuming he jumps through all the legal Hula Hoops. And then there's Mark McGwire — another infamous cheat — sliding on the slippery slope of accountability. McGwire, an admitted user, is a hitting coach with the Los Angeles Dodgers.
If baseball wants to play hardball with Rose, then it should use the same standards in judging A-Rod, Braun, McGwire, and the rest of 'em. They cheated and their records are flawed. Banish them. See ya later.
Meanwhile, Rose is not allowed to participate in any on-field activities, which has precluded the Reds from retiring his No. 14 jersey.
Rose disappointed a lot of people, but mostly himself. He is a gambler, a liar and not so nice of a person. But he's also the greatest hitter in the history of baseball.
He didn't get the nickname "Charlie Hustle" because of his gambling addiction. He got it because he was consumed with winning every day of his playing and managerial career. Rose came at everybody hard; he was the consummate competitor.
Now he's 72, reduced to making a living off his name. Charlie Hustle has reinvented himself, this time signing his name to all sorts of memorabilia on the Vegas strip. There are plenty of people who would prefer to see Pete in Cooperstown.
Selig and the Boys of Summer can't have it both ways. If they want to give the steroid gang a pass on permanent purgatory, then Rose certainly deserves as much.
Let him in.
Read George Díaz's blog at OrlandoSentinel.com/enfuego or e-mail him at firstname.lastname@example.org