6:28 PM PST, January 23, 2013
Pete Rose is a lot like Notre Dame football when it comes to polarization.
Either you love Pete or you can't stand him.
Either you admire his swagger, figuring that's what made him baseball's all-time hit king, or you consider him an arrogant, defiant SOB.
Either you think it's an absolute crime that he's not in the National Baseball Hall of Fame or you'll rue the day that the guy who violated the cardinal sin of professional baseball — betting on the games — gets enshrined at Cooperstown.
Those who sit on opposite sides of the fence on Rose probably will be not be swayed in the opposite direction by anything they'll see on his new reality TV show, "Pete Rose: Hits and Mrs." which is on a six-episode run on TLC with shows debuting Monday nights.
In fact, the show will likely harden opinions on both sides.
Those who admire Rose will feel sympathetic toward him as he talks about "making some mistakes" and will feel his pain of visiting Cooperstown with his fiance, Kiana, and her two children — 14-year-old Cassie and 11-year-old Ashton — and letting them go into the museum without him.
"I'm only going in there when they invite me in," Rose said before leaving them and walking down the Cooperstown street by himself for dramatic effect.
Those who think the 71-year-old Rose is a creep will point to the fact that Kiana is about half his age and is a model who has fake breasts and has posed for Playboy. They will also sneer when Rose, who was banished from baseball for gambling, proudly says that his job is signing autographs at Mandalay Bay in Las Vegas, a gambling mecca.
Whatever your preconceived notions were about the controversial Rose, they'll only be reinforced here.
It's supposed to be a reality show, but, of course, like almost every reality show, everything is choreographed.
It's hard to imagine that Ashton, without prodding, would ask Rose why he's not in the Hall of Fame.
It came from a script that was written to create some drama in a episode that seemed strictly designed to create sympathy for Rose, who still doesn't quite seem sincere when he talks about what he did while managing the Cincinnati Reds in the late 1980s.
At one point, Rose does say he understands why Major League Baseball came down hard on him for his gambling and he acknowledges the greatest scar in the sport's history — the 1919 Black Sox scandal — as the reason for the no-tolerance policy.
And yet, in another breath, he says his punishment doesn't fit the crime and makes it seem as though the only guy against him is current commissioner Bud Selig, when there are an array of people who don't feel he has expressed enough remorse or done enough of the right things to have the ban removed.
That list includes his former Reds teammate, Johnny Bench, by the way.
The show is at once amusing and sad, especially when you see Rose hobble down the street. He's certainly not running to first base on a walk anymore, and may be in need of a walker, but yet he is still "Charlie Hustle" in his approach to life.
Phillies fans, and we've noticed over the years that they generally overlook Rose's thorny side and love him because of his contributions to the 1980 World Series champs, would appreciate the cameo appearance of former pitcher Larry Christenson in the Cooperstown episode.
He's there, of course, to say that Rose should be in the Hall of Fame and to admire Kiana's breasts and tell her that a planned reduction is not necessary.
It's that kind of show. "Masterpiece Theatre" this isn't.
Rose's life couldn't be in more stark contrast to the life lived by another great hitter, Stan "The Man" Musial.
Musial, who died on Saturday at the age of 92, was married to the same woman, Lillian, for 71 years, and never felt the need to leave St. Louis for a gig signing autographs in Vegas.
Sadly, they don't make reality shows about people who live life the right way like Musial, whose passing didn't receive the recognition it deserved because it happened on a Saturday night in January on the eve of the NFL's conference championship games.
Yet, somehow, I don't think Musial would have cared how much attention he received as he stepped into that great batter's box up above.
The Flyers may not know the lockout is over, but NBC certainly does. NBC's coverage of the NHL on Saturday produced the league's most-watched regular-season broadcast in 14 years, excluding Winter Classics, according to Nielsen data.
Regional coverage of the Chicago Blackhawks-Los Angeles Kings and Pittsburgh beating the Flyers, was watched by 2.77 million viewers.
Excluding Winter Classics, it is the most-watched NHL regular-season coverage on NBC since the network again began broadcasting the league in 2006, and the most-watched since three-game regional coverage on Fox in 1999.
By the time the Super Bowl rolls around, it's hard to imagine anyone not being Harbaughed-out by the excessive coverage of this first all-brother battle. For example, HBO's "Real Sports" quickly decided to re-air a previous segment on the family and ESPN's "SportsCenter" made sure to show a clip of Ray Lewis getting his first career sack against then Colts quarterback Jim Harbaugh in 1996. Every aspect of their lives will be examined before kickoff in New Orleans.
KEITH'S CAN'T MISS … The likable Michelle Beadle returns to regular sports TV as the host of "The Crossover" on the NBC Sports Network on Monday at 6 p.m. It will cover major sports topics, but also things going on in all aspects of society.
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