“First,” McGinn says, “and I know this will sound illogical, but the first thing I tell Pete Rose to do is lose weight. Obviously, it would help his health. But it would also show that he can discipline himself. From a public standpoint, he needs to go back to being the Pete Rose they remember from the field, the Pete Rose of extreme discipline and focus. He needs to remind people that he’s the same player who was sliding headfirst and playing in the World Series. I know that’s illogical and superficial, but I don’t think people see him as that man now.
“Second, he needs to stop doing these tawdry things. I’d tell him, don’t go to Cooperstown and sign autographs and make a mockery of things. Don’t do a reality TV show. He’s got to be willing to walk away from all that.
“Third, and most important, he would need to find a cause, a message, something that isn’t selfish. He has a real ability to do that, if he wants to do it. I think he has to look at his life honestly. He doesn’t have a lot of time left, presumably, and I would think he might want to go out of this life the right way. If he can do that, others will come to their own conclusions about how to treat him.
“People are still unbelievably forgiving in our society. I would say to him, ‘Pete, you know what this has cost you. You know that your health probably isn’t great. If you can come forward with humility, consistency and focus and say that you can’t make up for the past but you want the last chapter to be different, you have a shot at writing a different ending. You have a chance to have people think of you in a whole different way. You have a chance for people to see you as a Hall of Famer.'"
The nation grieved for those hurt, killed and affected by the Boston Marathon bombings. After one of the suspects was caught on Friday — following a day-long lockdown and manhunt — sports returned to Boston over the weekend.
I believe Pete Rose was a heck of a ballplayer, and I also like him a lot. He’s funny, he’s crass, he’s a good storyteller, he’s a character. His baseball story — unlike his life story — is uplifting in its own way. He made himself into a great player by pushing himself beyond all reason. He couldn’t run, couldn’t throw, fielded awkwardly, hit with little power.
But he willed himself into being a singular ballplayer by showing up every day full of energy and life, by smacking line drives right over the pitcher’s head, by stretching singles into doubles, by being acutely aware of the moment and the situation and quickly formulating the winning move.
I know Pete Rose wants in the Hall and be part of baseball again. The first is a long shot, the second even longer. When I hear people talk about Rose, they usually say something like this: “He’s just the same old Pete Rose.”
Could he change his life a little? Only Rose can answer that question. But I do believe this: If he did show a little effort, if he did stop trying to hustle all the time, if he did try to make the final chapter different, I think it could make a difference.
Would people look at it as another ploy? Sure, at first. We’ve all seen Pete Rose remodeling acts before. But, if he stayed with it — stayed with it the way he stayed with baseball until he got the hit that passed Ty Cobb — I think Rose could change the way people look at him. Even now, ever after all the bumps and lies and admissions and silliness, even now, so many people want to be won over by Pete Rose.
HBT: Carlos Ruiz was lifted from Sunday afternoon’s game against the Reds after straining his right hamstring while running the bases in the bottom of the second inning.
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