A plan to reconsider Rose's ban
With Pete Rose’s return to Cincinnati on Saturday night, the door for his possible reinstatement to baseball may have opened a crack.
Yes, what he did — betting on baseball — showed terrible judgment. His actions were dead wrong. No need to debate the issue. Who would even take the other side?
But coming off an era in which bulked-up bozos were hitting home runs at ridiculous rates and aging pitchers were turning traditional career performance arcs upside down, isn’t it time to at least give some thought to reinstating Rose?
In the same way we measure players against each other; shouldn’t we consider the severity of crimes and punishments in relative terms?
Yes, Rose bet on baseball as a manager. But every single one of his record 4,256 hits was the result of his own talents. No needles needed. If Pete Rose went into a bathroom stall, you could bet something was coming out of his body, not going into it.
In light of the laughable major league freak show known as the 1990s and early 2000s, and the resulting embarrassments of congressional hearings and subpoenas and federal indictments, isn’t it time to re-evaluate Rose’s standing in the game?
Ten years after perpetuating a sham, Mark freakin’ McGwire is getting standing ovations walking off the field after batting practice, yet Pete Rose is still a pariah 20-plus years after betting on games? After admitting steroid use, Andy Pettitte and Alex Rodriguez are active players, but Pete Rose cannot so much as set foot on a major league field? Is something not very wrong with this picture?
Had Rose bet against his team and managed to damage that team’s chances to win, lock him up and throw away the key. But really, did anything he ever did change the outcome of any game?
I am not saying reinstate Pete Rose. But why is current commissioner Bud Selig so insistent that the 1989 agreement between Rose and late commissioner Bart Giamatti remain untouched? Baseball has been through a lot since then. There’s even instant replay now. Why not use it?
Rose agreed to the ban, but Giamatti’s concession was Rose could apply for reinstatement after one year. An apology and an admission of wrongdoing have been held out as the first steps toward reinstatement. After decades of hardheaded, defiant denials, Rose came clean in 2004, and does so today in what appears to be an appropriately contrite, heartfelt manner.
So where do we go from here?
My proposal: Take the pulse of the game. Find out how a significant cross-section of people — baseball people — feel about the issue with the benefit of retrospect. Everybody has a voice, every group is represented, every opinion matters.
Ask the simple question, “Do you think Pete Rose should be reinstated to baseball and be made eligible for the Hall of Fame?”
• Living Hall of Famers
• Active major leaguers
• Current managers, general managers and team presidents
• All beat writers who do not have Hall votes and team broadcasters
• A random sampling of knowledgeable season-ticket holders. Maybe 25 per team with a cross-section of nationalities and age brackets represented.
Five groups. Five votes. Majority rules.
Let’s rethink this. It’s time.