As a baseball fan that grew up watching the end of Pete Rose‘s playing career, and have more memories of him as the skipper of his beloved hometown Cincinnati Reds, it has always saddened me that he chose to go down the path of compulsion and poor choices. I’ve never argued that Pete Rose made mistakes. He has, and he’s been punished for them. My friend and founder of the Internet Baseball Writers Association of America, Howard Cole, and I have had opposing viewpoints on the fate of Rose since I first met Howard a handful of years ago. Howard’s take is that Rose is done, should be done, lock his eligibility up and throw away the key.
My take on the other side of the coin, is that there is room for compromise. I’ve never argued the point that Rose should ever be allowed to hold a job in the game ever again. A man that bet on his team broke the ultimate Cardinal rule. However, we all know what he accomplished as a player. I won’t puke back up the statistics. But for a man that lived and died by winning, Rose was a part of more winning baseball games than any person to have ever put on spikes. That too is just a fact that cannot be denied. Perhaps it was that unquenchable thirst for winning, that led him down that dark path, one from which he has never returned.
On Monday, Major League Baseball Commissioner Rob Manfred announced that Rose’s 26-year ban would remain intact, and cited that per Rule 21, Rose has not reconfigured his life enough to consider bringing him back into the national pastime in any official capacity. Rose remains a paid studio analyst for Fox Sports, but that is a far cry from developing young players, deciding on pitching match-ups in the seventh inning of a tight ballgame. The compromise for me, is that Rose should be eligible for election to the National Baseball Hall of Fame in Cooperstown, for what he accomplished as a player. Would the BBWAA ever elect him? Highly doubtful. It’s truly a shame, because there have been so many dastardly characters throughout the game’s history, who are now long gone, but their legend continues to live on with a plaque and a place among the all-time greats of the game. Like it or not, Rose is an all-time great. He’s also one of the saddest figures in history.
Leading up to Monday’s decision by Manfred to keep Rose banned, I was in favor of lifting the ban. Two and a half decades is a lifetime. Rose is an old man now. I never was in favor of his being hired as a field manager or person that had say on the outcome of games. The man knows hitting. Yes, I believed he could serve a purpose as a roving hitting instructor, or someone that could travel around for MLB, and explain the mistakes he’s made to the younger generation, pleading with them not to allow fame and fortune to unravel what could be a promising career. Players have been caught using PEDs, convicted of domestic issues off the field, etc., yet Rose is banned for gambling, and the others are forgiven and allowed to move forward. My compromise remains the same: allow the man to be on the ballot for his playing accomplishments. Pete Rose can never be removed from the permanently ineligible list to hold any type of official job with a team or with MLB. The man admitted in his meeting with Commissioner Manfred, that he still gambles. Excuse me what? He even admitted to betting on baseball. That’s like a drug addict being suspended, and when the follow up test occurs, they admit to still using the drugs. Pete Rose while a sad character in the annals of our game, has not learned his lesson. Commissioner Manfred witnessed that first-hand. His job is to protect the integrity of the game, and when he believes that Rose has failed to reconfigure his life enough to lift the ban, I agree wholeheartedly. I love Pete, but Pete simply is the little boy who won’t change his behavior, no matter how much we want him to. His last chance is now gone..