by Clark Groome

What are they thinking?

For this year’s World Series, Fox Sports is including Pete Rose and Alex Rodriquez, aka A-Rod, in their pre- and post-game programs.

What are they thinking?

Rose, a great player on the field – one of the greatest ever, it can be argued – was permanently banned from baseball in 1989 after it was determined that he bet on baseball while a manager. More recent evidence indicates he also bet on the sport while a player. For most of the intervening years he has denied his misdeeds, never admitting betting until 2004 as a transparent attempt to be reinstated and thus made eligible for the Hall of Fame.

The year after Commissioner A. Bartlett Giamatti banned him for life, he pled guilty to two counts of filing false tax returns and ended up in jail for five months.

Through all of his troubles, he continued to deny his wrongdoings and to look out for no one but himself. Arrogant and belligerent, he never did anything to gain the sympathy and support for his on-field accomplishments that should have made him a first-ballot Hall of Fame.

He’s been working on the Fox shows for quite a while.

What are they thinking?

As an additional draw, or whatever, Fox has added A-Rod to its lineup for the World Series coverage.

One of the most powerful hitters in the history of the game, Rodriquez signed a 10-year, $252 million contract in 2000, the richest contract in baseball history. Four years later he was traded to the New York Yankees.

For many years it was suspected that he had used performance enhancing drugs, something he denied until 2009, when he said he had used them, but only sporadically between 2001 and 2003.

The facts seemed to be contrary to his statements and he was ultimately found guilty of using illegal drugs and suspended for the entire 2014 season.

He was back in Yankee pinstripes this past season, making a mark at the plate but not with the fans.

And now he’s working for Fox during Major League Baseball’s premiere event.

What are they thinking?

Having former and current players of note as pre- and post-game analysts is nothing new. But in my memory, no network has hired two disgraced individuals as part of their mix.

What can these two add that other players without all their baggage can’t? Nothing.

Are people so fascinated by these two that Fox will garner additional viewers because they’re there? I seriously doubt it.

And perhaps most important, what message does their presence send to casual viewers and, especially, kids? That message seems to be that if you break the sport’s one, top prohibition (gambling), go to jail and get punished significantly for cheating, then you will be handsomely compensated. So it’s OK to be a jerk, a thief, a cheater.

That’s a bad message to send to anyone, and Fox still needs to answer the question: “What are they thinking?”

The only answer that seems legitimate is “They aren’t thinking at all.”