Could book release be tied to Hall?

Pete Rose has a new book coming out next month. January 8, to be precise. Now, you might ask, "Why January 8? Wouldn't the publisher want the book out before Christmas?"

On Tuesday, somebody asked me that question exactly. I gave a vague answer.

Then I looked at my calendar, and it all became very clear to me. Sure, it's speculation, but stay with this...

Rose's publisher has embargoed the book, releasing absolutely nothing to anybody before the official "pub date." This is extremely unusual; publishers generally send out scads of review copies weeks or even months before publication, to generate publicity. Even when they hold the review copies, in the case of a book that's got some surprises, those surprises are leaked in some fashion; again, for the sake of publicity.

But as far as I know, nobody's seen this book except the publishers (Rodale Press).

Why so hush-hush? And why January 8?

Like I said, it all made sense to me when I looked at my calendar. Rose wouldn't be publishing a book unless he'd cleared the contents and its publication date with the Commissioner's Office. Here's my guess, dollars to doughnuts: Rose will finally admit that he did wrong, that he did bet on baseball and he's really, really sorry. Really.

Of course, the minute this becomes public, it will be the big story for days. Weeks, probably. And that explains the release date. On January 6, the Hall of Fame's Class of 2004 will be announced. That will be big news on the 6th, and also the 7th. Dennis Eckersley and Paul Molitor will get their two days in the limelight ... and then on the 8th it's Charlie Hustle's turn.

For months, I suspect (and that's all it is, speculation), all this has been carefully orchestrated by Rose and baseball. And this time next year, Pete Rose will be headed for the Hall of Fame.

You can book it.

Senior writer Rob Neyer writes three columns per week during baseball's offseason. Next spring, Fireside will publish Rob's next book, "The Neyer/James Guide to Pitchers" (co-authored with Bill James); for more information, visit Rob's Web site. Also, click here to send a question for possible use on ESPNEWS.