There still might have been 2 or 3 percent doubt in my mind that Pete Rose wasn't a complete idiot -- but when these mindless comments bashing Derek Jeter came spewing out of Rose's mouth a while back, all that remaining doubt went flying out the window.
Rose is a complete and total jerk.
Recently, he spoke with "Paterno" author Joe Posnanski, and Rose, who is major league baseball's all-time hits leader with 4,256, basically thumbed his nose at Jeter's chances of breaking his record.
"I don't think he'll break the record," Rose told Posnanski. "First of all, I don't think he wants to leave the Yankees, and the Yankees, they're about winning. Jeter had a great year this year, but he's what? Thirty-eight years old? And he's a shortstop? How many 40-year-old shortstops you see walking around? Not too many, right?
"And they can't put him at third because A-Rod's there. They can't put him at second because (Robinson) Cano's there. He don't help them in left field ... he's got to be in the center of things, you know what I mean? What are they going to do? Put him at first base?"
The 38-year-old Jeter led the majors with 216 hits and now has 3,304 in his career. He would need 953 hits to surpass Rose's mark. And the fact that there's a chance that Jeter -- now recovered from off-season ankle surgery -- could play five more years and break Rose's record is simply inconceivable to the man who has been banned from baseball since 1989 because he bet on the game while managing the Cincinnati Reds.
"He still needs 950 hits, right? He had a great year this year, but you think he can do that again?" Rose said. "At 39? A shortstop? Let's say he does it again. Let's say he gets 200 hits next year. And let's say he gets 200 more hits when he's 40, though I don't think he can. OK, can he get 200 more hits when he's 41? You think he can?"
Yes, Pete I do.
"I don't think he can get 200 more hits at 41, but let's say he does," Rose blabbered on. "OK, now he's 42. He's gonna get 200 more hits then? At 42? Let me tell you, I've been there, the body locks up.
"Jeter's a great hitter. I'd say he hits like I did. But he's gonna get 200 hits when he's 42? I don't think he will. And even if he does all that, he's still 150 hits short."
Whether Jeter can continue to play shortstop at a high level for the next five years is moot. If he can't, his skills are certainly strong enough to play in the Yankees outfield for a couple of years or more. He's always kept himself in amazing shape -- he's only been on the disabled list once (last season for a strained calf) since 2003. He has put together eight 200-plus hits seasons, and since 2003, he has played in an average of 153 games a season.
But Rose refuses to think that Jeter has the ability to keep playing at a high level for the next five years "I think time's running out," the gambler said.
"I'd say Jeter will probably end up in batting average about where I was. We're about the same -- me, Derek, Hank (Aaron), Willie (Mays)," he said. "We were all hitting about .311 or .312 or .313 when we got into our late 30s ... and we all ended up around .303 or .305. Jeter will probably end up where I did (.303), right around there. So if his average is around the same as mine, he has to get about as many at-bats as I did.
"I got 14,053 at-bats. What's he got? Ten thousand? Eleven thousand? (He's got 10,551.) He's a great hitter. How's he going to get 3,500 more at-bats?"
By continuing to stay in great baseball shape, by continuing to play the game the right way, and by not listening to boneheads like Rose saying that he can't do it.
Right now, Jeter is 10th on the all-time list, and with 180 to 200 hits next season, he'll move past Eddie Collins (3,315), Paul Molitor (3,319), Honus Wagner (3,415) and Carl Yastrzemski (3,419) and stand in sixth place. And with the same hit numbers in 2014, he'd go past Tris Speaker (3,514) and Stan Musial (3,630) into fourth place, leaving just Aaron (3,771), Ty Cobb (4,189) and Rose ahead of him.
I, for one, would love to see Jeter make Rose sweat and take on the challenge of going after the all-time hits record. It's the last thing this goofball has as a claim to the game, and it would be great to see Jeter, the ultimate professional, take that away.