Game 2 Countdown
The buzz before, after Game 2 was all about Rose
Posted: Monday October 25, 1999 03:07 AM
Pete Rose is unsure of how the crowd will react to his first appearance at a baseball event since his banishment. AP
CNN/SI.com senior writer John Donovan is on-site at Turner Field in Atlanta. He is filing these reports during the run-up to Game 2 of the World Series.
Lights out -- 11:30 p.m.
ATLANTA -- If it were up to the fans -- and, seriously, when in sports is it ever up to the fans? -- Pete Rose wouldn't only be back in baseball, the guy would be commissioner.
Rose made a triumphant return to the field Sunday before Game 2 of the World Series, appearing as a fans' choice on Major League Baseball's All-Century Team. To say he was welcomed with open arms is like saying the Braves can't hit the Yankees.
Rose, banned from baseball in 1989 for illegal betting, was given the longest ovation of the night from the crowd at Turner Field. Longer than the one given to slugger Mark McGwire. Longer than the one given to the great Ted Williams.
Longer, even, than the one given to hometown favorite and home run king Hank Aaron.
"I'm just very happy they [Major League Baseball] allowed me to be on the ballot," Rose told reporters before the ceremony. "The fans did the rest."
Rose, of course, couldn't get out of the night without a bit of controversy. He was interviewed on the national broadcast of the game immediately after the ceremony and hit with some hard questions about his sometimes-haphazard approach to getting reinstated.
Many in baseball believe Rose bet on baseball games, though the agreement he signed in 1989 stipulated there would be no finding of that. He has steadfastly denied that he did, and has been defiant at times when asked to apologize for his part in one of the blackest eyes baseball has ever endured.
"I'm not here to talk about something that happened years ago," he told reporters before the game when similar questions were asked. "This is 1999 ... We're here for a festive situation tonight."
Festive, it was. But, like Rose himself, it wasn't without some thorny issues.
OUT IN LEFT FIELD STANDS -- Game 2 of the 1999 World Series, less than an hour away, has really become an afterthought to the 50,000-plus fans here at Turner Field.
Just in back of second base, a huge platform has been erected to showcase Major League Baseball's All-Century Team.
It is the culmination of months of fan balloting which has, theoretically, resulted in the picking of the best players of the century.
Every living member of the team is expected to be here. Included in the team are current players Cal Ripkin Jr. of the Baltimore Orioles and Ken Griffey Jr. of the Seattle Mariners.
The big drama remains. Pete Rose will be introduced within the hour.
The best players of the century? If Pete Rose belongs in this group, the fans will tell us in a few minutes.
User question: In reference to David Cone -- he is coming in with nine days rest; will he be RESTED or RUSTED?
You never know, but Cone is a veteran with almost 300 lifetime starts. If anyone knows how to get ready and shake off the rust, it oughta be him. I wouldn't look for him to be too rusty. That doesn't mean the Braves won't be able to hit him.
ON THE FIELD -- With all the All-Century hoopla going on, there is plenty of opportunity around here for nonsense.
Here are our three favorite questions from Biff Henderson, who is covering the series for "Late Night with David Letterman":
- "What if second base were filled with jelly, like a jelly donut?" (asked of Braves shortstop Ozzie Guillen)
- "What if the two managers started arguing at home plate, and their faces got real close together, and they just kissed?"
- "Do you ever try to hit a foul ball at Jane Fonda?"
ON THE FIELD -- They're playing tributes to the All-Century team on the big video board here at Turner Field, a warm-up to the ceremony to come.
Baseball will be hard-pressed topping the All-Century Team ceremony held in Boston at the All-Star Game, but, with the living winners of the fan balloting all here, the ceremony should be something special.
Quote of the day from Pete Rose, one of the elected outfielders on the All-Century Team, on baseball giving him a second chance: "I mean, Charlie Manson gets a hearing every decade."
AN INTERVIEW ROOM BENEATH TURNER FIELD -- Pete Rose, the banned hit king, is in the stadium. Rose met with the media in a nearly half-hour long rambling press conference in which he thanked the fans but still declined to admit any kind of final responsibility for his banishment from the game.
"I would do anything in my power to change what has happened to me in the past ten years," Rose said. "If anybody in this group don't think I'm sorry for what happened...."
Rose, elected to Major League Baseball's All-Century team, is expected to get a thunderous ovation when he is introduced before Game 2, but no one really knows what will happen.
"You don't how you'll feel, because you don't know the response of the fans," Rose said. "What happens if 50,000 boo? What happens if 50,000 clap? Until you go through it, you can't really describe it."
User question: Who has the advantage in this series when it comes down to tough managerial decisions?
That's one of the questions of the series. Joe Torre seems to be able to do no wrong, unlike his Mets counterpart, Bobby Valentine. Bobby Cox is a great strategist too, but he's already made some questionable calls in this series, including possibly leaving starter Greg Maddux in too long. He also raised some questions in the Mets series when he replaced shortstop Walt Weiss with Ozzie Guillen -- Weiss is the better-fielding shortstop. When you get right down to it, though, both of these guys have been in baseball for a long time and they both know all the moves. When it comes down to it, sometimes they work, sometimes they don't.
ON THE FIELD -- Braves manager Bobby Cox, looking to get some kind of spark out of his wet-blanket offense, is tinkering with the lineup for Game 2 tonight.
Ozzie Guillen will start at shortstop in place of Walt Weiss and bat second. Weiss has lit up Game 2 starter David Cone over his career. Guillen, playing in his first World Series in his 15th year in the majors, has hit Cone to the tune of .367.
Cox also is putting Greg Myers in the lineup for catcher Eddie Perez, who bruised his thumb in Game 1 but will be able to play in Game 2, if necessary. Cox also will go with the left-handed swinging Ryan Klesko at first base against the righty Cone.
"We're just trying it out to see if we can change things up a little," said Cox, whose team was held to just two hits in Game 1 -- a homer by Chipper Jones and a single by second baseman Bret Boone.
The moves were met with some surprise in the clubhouse.
"I know the guys who have been playing are pretty surprised," said right fielder Brian Jordan. "But we need to get something going. We'll see what happens."
User question: Do you think, in your opinion, Atlanta's Chipper Jones is a lock on the NL MVP?
I don't know if he's a lock, but what he did against the New York Mets late in the season, especially his four-home run series in Atlanta in late September, certainly swayed a few voters his way. There are other candidates -- Jeff Bagwell with 126 RBIs and 42 HRs is being mentioned a lot -- but Chipper Jones is certainly darned near close to it of any MVP list. With 110 RBI's and 45 homers, he certainly deserves it.
ATLANTA -- Welcome to "The Pete Rose Show."
Game 2 of the 1999 World Series is going to be a literal and practical afterthought once the Major League Baseball All-Century Team takes the field. And no one player of the last century will be more widely anticipated by the sold-out crowd here at Turner Field -- unless, of course, Babe Ruth makes an otherworldly appearance -- than Pete Rose.
Will fans cheer the disgraced hit king, banned from baseball, considering they were the ones who voted him in? Will there be polite applause? Will there be boos?
How we he react? How will the fellow members of MLB's A-CT act toward him?
Will Rose make it on time from a memorabilia show in Atlantic City?
Oh, the tension.
"For me, very simply, I just look at Pete Rose as a baseball player," Orioles third baseman Cal Ripken Jr. said at an A-CT event earlier in the day.
"I just hope they don't boo me," said former catcher Johnny Bench, a teammate of Rose's on the Cincinnati Reds.
More coming up, we're sure ...