- The Washington Times - Friday, September 22, 2006

Pete Rose was almost more likable as the liar than he is as the huckster behind the “signed-baseball-apology” venture.

At least there was a measure of stubborn pride in the lie.

Now he is just a groveling, contrived shell employing the sorry word as a moneymaking mechanism.

“I’m sorry I bet on baseball,” goes the Rose inscription, complete with his signature.

The baseball can be yours for $299, not counting the $4.99 shipping-and-handling charge.

Just when you think Rose can go no deeper, there he is with a spade and miner’s hat to demonstrate otherwise. There he is adding to the massive mound of dirt in his midst.

The shamelessness of Rose is both staggering and pathetic.

He is the human car wreck who invites America to rubberneck at his expense.

Rose, of course, has a story behind the “signed-baseball-apology” venture.

He signed as many as 300 of these baseballs for two collector friends more than a year ago and never, ever intended to have them hit the memorabilia market in his lifetime.

That supposedly was the plan. That plan is dead.

A few of these baseballs already have fetched $10,000, and 30 more will be auctioned away next April.

Rose is just sick about it all. Sorry even. Honest. Or so he told ESPN’s Stephen A. Smith earlier this week.

So now he is doing his part to drive the price down. He is doing this as a favor to America, to baseball fans everywhere.

You do not have to go into debt to buy an apology baseball. No sir.

Instead, you can go to PeteRose.com and land this valuable collector’s item for the low, low price of $299, plus $4.99 for shipping and handling.

Hurry. You do not want to miss this once-in-a-lifetime opportunity, this piece of baseball history.

Or as it is advertised on PeteRose.com: “Here it is — your personal apology from Pete Rose.”

Who knew that Rose was one of the last of the humanitarians in capitalism?

Who knew that the spirit of Mother Teresa was lurking behind that scrunched-up face?

Rose has a million stories. If life were fair, he would be tripping over his ever-lengthening nose by now.

Rose has no discernible skills other than exhausting the last vapors of his baseball infamy in just about every tacky manner imaginable.

He will show up anywhere — for a price. He will sign anything — for a price.

He is part carny, part campaigner, part bottom feeder in the marketplace.

He always stays on message, and it is always the same: He somehow has been wronged by baseball. And let’s be honest: He may have bet on his team. But he always bet on his team to win. And there is no reason to question the word of a confirmed liar.

Rose has two missions in life: make a buck and somehow curry enough favor with Major League Baseball that would lead to his entry into the Hall of Fame.

The latter is not going to happen in his lifetime, no matter how many times Rose notes all the “second chances” afforded baseball’s cocaine users.

That logic is no longer persuasive from a person who stuck to his lie for 14 years and capitalized from it.

He wrote a book denying he ever bet on baseball. Then he finally wrote a book confirming what everyone already knew from the Dowd Report. Now he is peddling his “I’m sorry” baseballs.

He has come to be the crazy uncle in baseball’s attic.

Whenever he surfaces, baseball groans, rolls its eyes, taps its feet and waits for his departure.

Even when he was on his apology tour in 2004, Rose came across as insincere, unrepentant.

The apology baseball is fitting in one respect anyway.

It is as sorry as he is.

And it no doubt will not be the last of his sorry ideas.

Next up: the apology baseball bat.

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