Pete Rose takes part in the ceremony celebrating the 25th anniversary of his breaking the career hit record of 4,192 on September 11, 2010 at Great American Ball Park in Cincinnati, Ohio. He was honored before the start of the game between the Pittsburgh Pirates and the Cincinnati Reds. (Photo by Andy Lyons/Getty Images)
Pete Rose has never met the man, but he might want to send a gift basket of champagne and caviar to Tony Bosch.
Bosch, head of the now-shuttered Biogenesis anti-aging clinic that allegedly distributed performance-enhancing drugs to ballplayers, is the best thing to happen to Rose in 25 years.
For the first time since being banned for life from Major League Baseball on Aug. 25, 1989, for gambling on games, Rose is looking like a sympathetic figure, changing his image as a pathetic and compulsive liar.
It seems everywhere you turn baseball fans want players involved in the Biogenesis scandal to be punished, disgraced and even permanently suspended themselves. And then they ask how Rose is still on the outside when Ryan Braun, Alex Rodriguez and others will only be temporarily suspended.
Joe Morgan, the Hall of Fame second baseman who's also vice chairman of the Hall of Fame, doesn't want anyone associated with doping to ever set foot in the museum. Yet, Morgan says Rose deserves to be inducted into the Hall of Fame.
"I think if you're going to allow guys with PEDs on the ballot," Morgan told USA TODAY Sports, "then we have to allow him to be on the ballot. Let's face it, he's been punished for 24 years. I think they have to take a second look at Pete now that this has come out."
Hank Aaron, the home-run king before Barry Bonds, says he believes steroid users should have an asterisk if they are ever inducted but hopes Rose is one day in the Hall of Fame alongside him.
Rose is even drawing compassion from MLB officials as a result of his comments last week, scolding Rodriguez and Braun and telling them to admit their guilt.
"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 Sports. "Don't do like I did. Don't do like Braun did. Don't do like A-Rod did. I wish I had come forward a long time ago."
It may have been the wisest words Rose has uttered in a quarter-century, former Commissioner Fay Vincent says.
"It's the first time I've ever heard him recognize the reality of the situation," Vincent, the deputy commissioner during the Rose suspension, told USA TODAY Sports. "If he had done this 25 ago, or was better advised, it might be different for him. But he handled it as badly as a person can handle it. He kept talking about how we mistreated him and how his rights were violated. But never once did he say, 'I did it.'
"A-Rod is making the same mistake. If he just said he did it, if he just said, 'I'm sorry,' it might be different for him. But he's following the same pattern as Rose. Ten years from now, he'll have an entire different story."
If Rose ever is going to have a shot at being reinstated and becoming eligible for the Hall of Fame while he is alive, this might be his best opportunity. But Commissioner Bud Selig, who vows not to retire until after the 2014 season, isn't budging.
Eligible members of the Baseball Writers Association of America have never had the opportunity to cast their Hall of Fame vote for Rose, but we are permitted to vote for Barry Bonds, Roger Clemens, Sammy Sosa, Rafael Palmeiro and any other players linked to steroid use.
I've got no problem voting for the best players of the steroid era because doping was prevalent during that period. Remember, drug testing didn't start until 2003, and there were no posted clubhouse signs prohibiting performance-enhancing drug use. Yet, gambling has always been prohibited in baseball, with signs in every clubhouse, and Rose blatantly violated baseball's most sacred rule.
The writers will never have an opportunity to vote for Rose since 20 years have passed since his retirement, but if Rose is re-instated, Hall of Fame president Jeff Idelson says, Rose would immediately qualify as a candidate for the 16-member expansion era committee.
"People ask us, 'Why can't you put Pete Rose on the ballot, you're independent?'" Idelson told USA TODAY Sports. "Yes, we could. But we feel that it would be incongruous to put somebody into the Hall of Fame Museum that baseball has banned."
Selig, and the 30 owners scheduled to arrive tonight in Cooperstown for their quarterly meetings, will actually see Rose's artifacts sprinkled throughout the museum. There are more than 20 pieces of Rose's memorabilia in the Hall of Fame museum. There's not just a plaque for baseball's all-time hits leader.
"I made mistakes, I can't whine about it," Rose told a Pittsburgh radio station over the weekend. "I'm the one that messed up and I'm paying the consequences. However, if I am given a second chance, I won't need a third chance.
"And to be honest with you, I picked the wrong vice. I should have picked alcohol. I should have picked drugs or I should have picked up beating up my wife or girlfriend because if you do those three, you get a second chance.
"They haven't given too many gamblers second chances in the world of baseball."
I believe Rose, 72, will be inducted into the Hall of Fame one day. He'll be acknowledged for his greatness as a player with his 4,256 hits, 19 major-league records and noting that his gambling occurred only as the Cincinnati Reds manager.
Sadly, he likely won't be alive to see it.