Rose and wrongness

DMZ · September 30, 2004 at 5:14 pm · Filed Under Off-topic ranting 

I realized something today, as I sorted through a stack of email from people mad about my answer to a Pete Rose related question I answered in a chat.

I can see why people think I was wrong and should fess up. I’ve been so caught up in the long slide towards having parts of it proven correct that I missed it. It’s more complicated but at its heart, there’s a crucial assertion in the original story that I now think was wrong.

Story as we reported it:
1) Rose has reached an agreement with MLB
2) There was a written agreement
3) Rose signed that agreement
4) The agreement contains terms blah blah blah

Baseball denied that any of that was true, but in the long slide towards truth, 1) has been confirmed by Rose after hinting around it for months. That Rose himself signed any agreement — I don’t think that’s what happened.

Now if we wrote the story today, I think it would go
1) Rose has reached an agreement with MLB
2) There’s a written agreement
3) Representatives for Rose and MLB have signed that agreement
4) Conditions are blah blah blah

I think the specific conditions of four are borne out by things that happened, but really, it’s unlikely we’re going to find out at this point. Given what’s happened after the deal fell apart, I don’t think we’ll ever get a copy of the deal, so we may never be able to prove who signed it (if it’s signed at all). And what with me being all empirical and dedicated to the weight of evidence, it really pains me to know that.

My current theory of events makes a lot of sense to me in two ways: first, in what the sources told us and when, and who was in a position to confirm what, but second, in the specific denials MLB issued about who hadn’t signed an agreement.

One of the things people ask me when we talk about this is whether I’d write it again if I had the chance. And I wouldn’t, not as it ran. I would know where to go for the next pieces of information that didn’t emerge until we ran it. And also, I would hope we would be able to get a copy of the thing if we started over and didn’t make a couple of stupid mistakes in the investigation.

I think part of the problem is that BP decided not to write follow-ups or update the original story as we learned more, to essentially wait for total vindication or to be proven wrong. I think it was a bad decision, because once we’d decided to run a new story once, you’re almost obligated to at least continue to cover that story.

What really haunts me, weirdly, is that when I went on MSNBC to talk about the report, and Abrams asked me if I had any doubts or second thoughts about it since it ran, and I said (I can’t find the transcript, so I’m paraphrasing):

“Given the specific denials of Major League Baseball I’ve wondered if it was a draft agreement or possibly an unsigned agreement… but our sources said it was signed, and we stand by that.”

Every time I answer someone’s email I think about this. That the possibilities I’d been spinning around in my head, the alternate explanations, all the thought I’d put into it… I was worried about the right things and didn’t see it.

I think about how to convey to someone who thinks that I’d make up a story like that of anything, and I wonder how long I have to write solid columns before that person comes around. Do I have to meet people, one-on-one, and tell them what went into the story over beers, and hope I’m more successful in person than I’ve been in email?

Should I care this much about whether I have credibility as an internet baseball columnist of minor note?

Back to my original report — I don’t think Rose signed anything. I believe the original story was wrong in that respect, that we got burned by our own mistakes investigating and in failing to get that right. I don’t think I’ve ever come out before this and said I’d come around to believe that aspect was wrong, either, and that’s been a mistake.

Having written this, I don’t feel any better, that I’ve made any progress, or advanced the discussion. I feel like I do every time I touch on this whole thing — like I wish I hadn’t written anything. And yet… I don’t know, I feel like I realized something today, even if I don’t know how to best make use of it yet, or talk about it.

Back to the M’s.


9 Responses to “Rose and wrongness”

  1. zzyzx on September 30th, 2004 5:31 pm

    The second that story was posted I thought that BP was going for the high risk/high reward plan. Unfortunately, it didn’t work; it doesn’t sometimes.

  2. Conor Glassey on September 30th, 2004 6:18 pm

    You know how people always ask, “Who would play you in a movie?” – well, I guess that question is more relevant when movies have been made that you actually could have been in. Now, I didn’t watch “Hustle” on ESPN, and I’m assuming there wasn’t a Derek Zumsteg character, but Derek – who would you pick to play you in a movie?!

  3. tede on September 30th, 2004 7:51 pm

    Holy cow DMZ, you were on MSNBC? I’d forgotten that.

    The Rose thing has always bored me, since I thought he was lying from the git-go. Plus it was always used by sports radio as a topic on their slow days. But you got some stuff right on this “HOF diplomacy” so I never sweated the details. Folks, remember it’s just a friggin’ museum. After the book, I guess he’ll get his posthomous entry or he’ll have to hope that’s Bud’s successor is a “Let’em Go” Leo.

    Anyway, has anybody else noticed that Tom Sizemore’s portrayal of Rose in Hustle is uncomfortably similar to Little Stevie’s portrayal of Silvio in The Sopranos?

  4. Paul Molitor Cocktail on September 30th, 2004 9:58 pm

    I don’t get why Sizemore was walking hunched-over the entire movie. Was Rose really like this?

  5. DMZ as Trollotron 2000 on September 30th, 2004 10:01 pm

    Yeah, I was on the Abrams report.

    I should also point out that when I talk to one of my friends about this, his response is “You want to get past this? Stop talking about it.”

  6. Zzyzx on October 1st, 2004 6:46 am

    The one thing you’re doing here by the way is a bit of, “The operation was a success, but the patient died.”

    The story as you wrote it was not:

    1) Rose has reached an agreement with MLB
    2) There was a written agreement
    3) Rose signed that agreement
    4) The agreement contains terms blah blah blah

    That might be how it came across to you, but the story to the outside world was, “Exclusive–He’s Back in Baseball in 2004.”

    What BP reported was that Pete Rose would be back in 2004 and he wouldn’t have to admit to betting on baseball. What happened was that Pete Rose admitted to betting on baseball and he wasn’t reinstated.

    You can argue details forever but what people are remembering is the headline, not the reasons why the article was written, and that argument rarely works.

  7. DMZ on October 1st, 2004 10:51 am

    Yeah, you’re right.

  8. zzyzx on October 1st, 2004 3:58 pm

    Someone says that I’m right and a local volcano erupts hours later. Coincidence?

  9. Dan Rather on October 3rd, 2004 4:30 pm

    Now if we wrote the story today, I think it would go
    1) Rose has reached an agreement with MLB
    Based on what would you report this? The only person who has claimed such a thing is Pete Rose. Please say that your original sources were better than this! Even I had better sources when I ran with my now proved false story.
    2) There’s a written agreement
    What happened to that written agreement? Was there a stipulation that if Rose wrote a book then it would be ripped to shreds? How come Rose never made this public? How is it possible that you are the only person in the public eye to ever find out about this? Why wouldn’t Rose or one of his buddies who supposedly signed ever have said anything?
    3) Representatives for Rose and MLB have signed that agreement
    Can you give names? Or are these your anonymous sources?
    4) Conditions are blah blah blah
    Care to specify? I can’t believe you can’t just admit that you had bad sources!