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2004-01-07 06:00
by Will Carroll

And lots of it.

One that's been continually hitting my in-box lately is the one accusing me of saying that Pete Rose had signed an agreement with Bud Selig. Allow me to quote from Derek's original article:

"Pete Rose and Major League Baseball have reached an agreement that would allow him to return to baseball in 2004 ..."

I remember the first time I heard the words "plausible deniability." It was the Iran-Contra hearings, where North, Poindexter and the rest of that cabal protected President Reagan by isolating him from the dirty deeds being done. While it is pure speculation on my part, I believe that after the meetings between Rose and Selig, Bud was taken very close to completely out of the loop. Instead, representatives negotiated the details after Bud and Pete handled the important details of admission, contrition, and expectations.

In the document that led to our report in August, I can tell you that the initials were not those of Allan H. Selig. He can, in all honesty, stand and tell you that he has not signed an agreement. To put it in car dealer terms, they've sold the car, but they're waiting on the title. To put it in political terms, the law has been passed, but the bill hasn't been signed at the photo opp. There will come a time - and I don't know when - but Bud and Pete will stand at a podium and either there or shortly before in a back room, the deal will be signed off on by Bud. He won't have been the one to negotiate it, but it will certainly have been guided by him. The conditions are no secret, written or not.

It's still about plausible deniability right now, but that is starting to fade. I fully expect there to be conditions in the final document that were not there when we reported our story, but I'm not sure that the heart of the final document is not in the deal we saw. Peter Gammons is reporting that there will be a two year probation and that Rose will never face the baseball writers who have turned on him suddenly. Cool. We never said or meant to imply that this might not happen. Look closely at the words and you'll see that Bud and Pete both have a lot of room to work within the initial framework.

Here's an opinion I have: Pete's listening. He's seeing the reaction and I think he's probably surprised. I also think he's smart enough to know that he's going to need to go one more step, to actually apologize. The ABC interview won't have that, but I'm betting we'll see it in one of the interviews shortly thereafter, likely with an MLB broadcast partner.

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