SPORTSnThe Party’s Overnby Janet Scott BarlownThe two most elemental questionsnraised by the Pete Rose gamblingnscandal were: do actions have consequences?nand do the rules mean anything?nWith Rose’s suspension fromnmajor league baseball, in keeping withnthe rules of major league baseball, camenone answer to both questions: yes.nBut the affair raised other questionsnwhose answers weren’t so clear cut,nquestions that had special weight here innCincinnati. What is the cost, to bothnthe adored and the adoring, of blindnadoration? Who determines children’snheros and why? What is the differencenbetween a tragic figure and an arrogantnfool?nCincinnati is in all ways conservativen—solid, predictable, and rooted. Trendsnare received rather than started here;nand even at that, change takes its time.nThere is order here and a feeling ofnisolation, in the positive sense. This isnnot a cynical town. (Neither is it a townnthat’s exactly bursting with humor, annidea you can prove simply by observingnCincinnatians’ unwillingness to laugh itnoff.) Depending on the circumstances,nCincinnati can be either pleased orndefensive about its parochial image.nThere is no confusion, however,nabout the city’s pride in being thenbirthplace of major league baseball. Thengame is important here, a factor in then50/CHRONICLESnVITAL SIGNSncollective identity, the one thing abovenall others that can really juice up thenpopulace. That this baseball town is alsonthe birthplace of Pete Rose, the mostnmythic player of the modern era, hasnalways been seen as some sort of gloriousngift, a blessing from the baseballngods. Rose gave Cincinnatians the kindnof pleasure a long-awaited only childngives — and he received the same kindnof indulgence. He was prized, pampered,nand adored. He was also somethingnof a psychological surrogate fornCincinnati. He was brash and Cincynwasn’t; but it was safe to love hisnbrashness because he was dependablenand he had endurance: he always deliverednthe professional goods.nBut the figure of Pete Rose alsonreflected Cincinnati’s little conflict withnits self-image. Rose’s baseball charisma,nhis major league records, and, eventually,nhis status as a sports legend gave thisnMidwestern city a sense of nationalnstature and significance. If you talkednabout baseball—and who didn’t wantnto talk about baseball? — you talkednabout Pete Rose. And if you talkednabout Pete Rose, you talked about Cincinnati.nAt the same time, his professionalnwork ethic and I-am-what-I-amnpersonality reinforced the city’s sense ofnitself as basic and unpretentious.nThe dual purpose Pete Rose servednfor Cincinnati was displayed perfectly inna pair of television commercials he didnfor a chain of local chili pariors. In one.nRose was wearing a black satin jacketnand driving a red custom Porsche 935nthrough the city streets at night, stoppingnat a corner to wordlessly hand anplate of chili dogs (known locally asnconeys) to a beautiful girl. Who wasnthat masked man? In the second ad.nRose was seated in a chili parior, offeringna straightforward recommendationnof the restaurant’s fare: “Them dogs arengood.” Together those ads showednsomeone simultaneously bigger thannlife and reassuringly ordinary: a mannwho was common enough to flauntnincorrect English and importantnenough to get paid for it; rich enough tondrive a $100,000 car and pedestriannenough to choose something fast, sexy,nand red. In a word, he was perfect.nIn truth, Rose’s public persona wasnnnhard not to like. He loved doing what hendid (and he was good at it) and beingnwho he was (for a while, he was good atnthat, too), and people with those twinnloves are often fun to watch. His enthusiasmnwas genuine and obvious, andnthere was a certain charm in his shruggingnrejection of false modesty. Whennonce asked what historic figure henwould most like to be, Rose answered,n”Me.” It was a reasonable answer, sincenmany baseball fans, faced with the samenquestion, would also have chosen to benhim. Mike Schmidt of the Phillies,ncalled Pete Rose “the most likable arrogantnperson I’ve ever met.”nBut beyond the subtle local complexities,nthe deal Cincinnatians cut withnPete Rose was wholly typical and veryncommon. He would be their icon, andnthey in turn would let him do, with noncost to his icon status, whatever henpleased. It’s the standard fan-icon deal,nand it usually works out because bothnparties get what they want. In this case,nit was such a good deal that no one,nincluding Rose, had to account for hisnnasty divorce, his uncontested paternitynsuit, and the public charge by one of hisnchildren that he was a lousy father.n(Them deals are good.) The only miscalculationnRose and the homefolksnmade was to assume that nothing couldntake the deal out of their collectivenhands.nWhen the gambling allegationsnagainst Pete Rose surfaced last spring,nthe reaction of most fans here wasndenial: “He didn’t do it.” As the casenagainst Rose grew stronger, the reactionnwas emotional defiance, expressed mostnsuccinctly by the fan who said, “I thinknhe did it, but I don’t care.” (Or perhapsnby Mr. Gradual Taylor, the local musiciannwho recorded a rap song titledn”Leave Pete Rose Alone.”) But when itnfinally became plain that Rose verynlikely had trashed the rules of baseballnand then lied repeatedly about his actions,nthe reaction wasn’t outrage, it wasnconfusion, followed by general municipalndepression. To be sure, some fansnwere steamed. One called Rose “baseball’snanswer to Richard Nixon.” And anlocal sportswriter said that “Pete hasnshown the judgment of a gerbil.” Butnnoisy outrage is not Cincinnati’s style;n