The truth with Pete Rose never really has been the truth. It's more a malleable set of claims to further a self-serving agenda.
So when investigator John M. Dowd, the man who brought down Rose with the damning 1989 report that proved he did bet on baseball, heard Rose claiming Wednesday on ESPN Radio that he bet "every night" on the Cincinnati Reds teams he managed, one thought crept forward.
It's just another lie.
"He did not always bet to win," Dowd said from his Virginia home. "And when he didn't bet on the Reds, he sent a signal to the bookmakers to bet to lose.
"I have no idea what he's doing. Who knows, this guy? He spends almost 15 years calling me a liar, then writes a sorry-ass book that admits what's in my report. Now the report is right. Well, glad to hear it."
Although Dowd's official report claims "no evidence was discovered that Rose bet against the Cincinnati Reds," Dowd said he found evidence Rose would not bet on games in which, as manager, he used Bill Gullickson and Mario Soto as starting pitchers. Dowd said he could not vet the information in time to include in the report.
Still, the evidence was overwhelming enough to banish Rose from baseball for life on Aug. 24, 1989. Ever since, he has lobbied for reinstatement, trying another con on a baseball-viewing public that would prefer its Hit King weren't a scheming degenerate.
"I don't believe Pete Rose on virtually anything," said Fay Vincent, the former commissioner and Bart Giamatti's deputy when the ban was levied, from his Florida home. "He's smart enough to recognize now that when you take a day off, it's like you bet against your own team."
Rose, whose record 4,256 hits may never be broken, appeared on the Dan Patrick Show to discuss the exhibit at Cincinnati's Great American Ball Park that will honor Rose's career for the next year. What compelled him to make Wednesday's claim is unclear.
"One thing I can tell you about Pete Rose," Dowd said, "is that he doesn't do things without a reason."
The conversation quickly moved to the controversies of Rose's career. He said he bet on the Reds every night "because I love my team, I believe in my team." He called himself "the best ambassador baseball has." And he claimed he "quit worrying about" making the National Baseball Hall of Fame.
Rose admitted to betting on baseball in a 2004 book to curry favor with commissioner Bud Selig about a possible reinstatement and possible induction into the Hall. Selig denied him then and has made no indication that his position will change.
"I think Rose is going to die outside of the Hall of Fame," Vincent said. "I don't think he'll get in, and Shoeless Joe won't, either. Nobody will get reinstated. You have to do what Rose should've done. If he had admitted things back in '89 with Bart and me, it would've been different.
"There's no support. Nobody in the Hall of Fame wants him in there. Nobody in baseball wants him in the game. When you lie for almost 15 years, it chases you."
Rose currently travels the country appearing at memorabilia shows and independent-league games to peddle autographs. For $350, fans can buy personalized baseballs on which Rose writes: "I'm sorry I bet on baseball."
He may really be contrite.
Though with Pete Rose, the truth never is easy.
- Pete Rose