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Coming Up: Manfred will give Rose a Hall pass

Commissioner Rob Manfred is seriously considering a formal request by Pete Rose to lift his lifetime ban from baseball (including, most critically, the Hall of Fame) because he bet on the Cincinnati Reds to win in the 1990s while managing the team.  He also served prison time for tax evasion.  In a meeting with the LA Dodgers in spring training, Manfred said, “I want to hear what Pete has to say.”  After the meeting, Dodgers manager Don Mattingly said he looks forward to a time “when we all kind of move on. . . . As a kid I loved Pete and the way he played.”  Mattingly’s views seem aligned with the majority of ballfans, who believe Rose’s monumental achievements (all-time leader in hits, for example) are not outweighed by a gambling addiction, which millions of Americans have, and a lying addiction, which all have.

Between the Lines:  Manfred is far more open to Rose reinstatement than Bud Selig, who’d never consider it.  Manfred is a peacemaker.  He ended baseball’s cold war (vs. labor).  Though no self-promotor, he wouldn’t mind being a unifier again, for his sake, Pete’s sake and everyone else’s. 


National League eventually will adopt the DH

Looking to add offense to its game, which last season produced the lowest batting average and on-base percentage since 1972, Major League Baseball is considering making the Designated Hitter universal, by adding it to the National League.  Those in favor say it worked well in ’72, which is when the DH was introduced in the American League and scoring did in fact surge.  Those opposed argue that one of the great traditions of the sport is that everyone bats and everyone fields.  The traditionalists say the sport would lose its dual athletes: Bob Gibson, Warren Spahn, Carlos Zambrano, who could pick up a bat and “win a game for himself.”  Commissioner Rob Manfred feels the NLDH is at least a few years away, but players agent Scott Boras said, “I think it will happen eventually, as offense appeals to the masses.”


49ers’ Borland retires at 24, cites concussion concern

Early retirements seem to be sweeping the NFL:  Tennessee QB Jake Locker, 26, San Francisco linebacker Patrick Willis, 30, Pittsburgh linebacker Jason Worilds, 27, Miami cornerback Cortland Finnegan, 31.  And now, youngest of all, and seemingly healthy. San Francisco linebacker Chris Borland, 24, who announced his retirement after a rookie season in which he established himself as a three-down player.  He effectively replaced Willis when the latter was injured.  Borland said he decided last September that he would be one and done, because of concerns about head injuries.  “From what I’ve researched and what I’ve experienced,” Borland told ESPN, “I don’t think it’s worth the risk.”


Smith re-elected UNANIMOUSLY as NFL labor chief

Peter King doubts the veracity of the vote-counting in the Players’ Association’s re-election of DeMaurice Smith as executive director.  On his website, Monday Morning Quarterback, King writes:  “It seems amazing that Smith was elected unanimously, on the first ballot, seeing that he had eight challengers. . . ” Smith was criticized by some players for his 2011 collective bargaining agreement that brought little protection or compensation re concussion.


Jay Gruden’s support of RG3 is insincere

Washington coach Jay Gruden’s expressed support of QB Robert Griffin III is not sincere.  So says the team’s recently retired veteran safety Ryan Clark, who is now an ESPN analyst. Clark said Gruden’s announcement at last month’s Scouting Combine that Griffin would be his starter was an effort to hide in-house issues with the quarterback.  “He’s not his guy,” Clark said.  “They want to go in a different direction.”  The team reportedly is set to draft Oregon QB Marcus Mariota if available at the No. 5 pick, as he’s expected to be.  “That has to be disheartening to RG3,” Clark said.  “And even if they don’t draft Marcus Mariota, it (the speculation) could create some problems in the locker room and in that building.”  Clark said Griffin “is a team guy despite what a lot of people say about him.”  He faulted Gruden for making Griffin fit his system.  “You don’t change his game to fit what you want to do, and I think that’s where Jay Gruden went wrong last year.”


Unger on trade to Saints:  ‘I was bummed’

Max Unger, Pro Bowl center for the Seattle Seahawks, the 2013 Super Bowl champs and 2014 runner-up, was stunned to find he had been traded to New Orleans.  He said that when Hawks GM John Schneider called him with the news, “to get a call like this out of left field, I was bummed.”  Schneider was not eager to part with Unger, but he was the key to acquiring Pro Bowl tight end Jimmy Graham, who went to Seattle along with a first-round draft pick.  Unger insisted that once the shock wore off, he could be happy to “play for a team that’s had a lot of success and I’ve heard a lot of good things about.”


Richardson’s next team ‘will get my all’

Trent Richardson lamented that “it wasn’t a good fit” for him with the Indianapolis Colts, who cut him last week.  The running back who was traded from Cleveland during the 2013 season said, “My next team will be my last team.  They’re going to get my all.” That turns out to be the Oakland Raiders, who this week signed Richardson to his third professional contract.

Between the Lines:  The fact that he felt compelled to promise his ‘all’ suggests the Colts got something less from him.


Antrel Rolle signs with Bears because of Orbitz alert

When the New York Giants cast him aside, safety Antrel Rolle said he looked for a sign from God to determine where he should play. When he got an e-mail on his phone, an Orbitz ad promoting trips to Chicago, he took that as a message that he should sign with the Chicago Bears.  “I never question God’s plan for me,” he said.

He apparently did not get a helpful sign when it came to deciding on tax attorneys.  Last week he sued attorneys for $1.8 million, claiming he was defrauded. Rolle filed a civil complaint against Hiram Martin and Harold Sterling of San Fernando Valley.  The player claims they listed charitable contributions on his tax forms that actually went to the lawyers’ bank accounts.


Team Turmoil: Harvick wins, Kurt Busch is forgiven

Stewart-Haas Racing is NASCAR’s Team Turmoil. Controversy started at the top, with co-owner Gene Haas in 2007 convicted of tax evasion.  The other co-owner, Tony Stewart, 3-time NASCAR champion, was under investigation last August – though cleared — after his short-track car killed a fellow driver.  The team opened this season with Kurt Busch suspended after a Delaware family court commissioner said the evidence indicated he committed domestic violence against his girlfriend, Patricia Driscoll.  But unsure of proof beyond reasonable doubt, the state did not press criminal charges, and NASCAR welcomed Busch back to the track. Team Turmoil expects civil action by Driscoll. In his first race off suspension, Busch finished 5th at Phoenix, with the winner being Stewart-Haas stalwart Kevin Harvick.  With two wins and two seconds in four races this year, Harvick is dominating the Chase for the Sprint Cup.   But teammates Busch, Stewart, Danica Patrick – have combined for only one top-10 finish.

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