The time for Major League Baseball to lift its ban on Peter Edward Rose is so far past due, he shouldn’t even have to meet with the new commissioner. Rob Manfred should be eager to drop the ban because he is now the fourth MLB commissioner to operate in office with Rose banned from the game.
According to USA Today’s Bob Nightengale, Pete Rose and Manfred are on a path to meet face-to-face. The commissioner then told ESPN a day after Nightengale broke the news that he “fully intends to decide” on Rose’s ongoing ban.
It’s time for a full reinstatement, meaning Hall of Fame eligibility and the freedom to take any job with any MLB organization.
In a time with grandiose farewell tours and nationally televised ceremonies, Rose’ induction (should that come to pass) into what is essentially the most revered museum in baseball should be a day of its own. But his MLB ban cannot just be a plaque in Cooperstown, it has to be a full reinstatement. Baseball needs Rose in someone’s front office, dugout or even an auditorium representing the league.
MLB has made a point to come down hard on users of performance-enhancing drugs by issuing suspensions for so much as hand-written records and verbal testimony. Yet those suspended in the Biogenesis PED scandal have been able to return to lucrative playing contracts.
Rose had a gambling problem. In 2007, he told ESPN he “bet on [The Cincinnati Reds] every night” because he believed in his team. He still broke the rules and lied about it, but by now he’s two decades past overdue for his second chance and his story is one young ball players should hear.
In March 2014, Sports Illustrated released an excerpt from Kostya Kennedy’s book titled “Pete Rose: An American Dilemma.” In the excerpt, Rose did not go so far as to call gambling a lesser evil than steroids, but reasoned, “if you do the one that I didn’t do, you have a good chance of hurting your body in the long run.”
For his book, Kennedy also spoke to John Erardi, a reporter for The Cincinnati Enquirer who covered Rose “for more than 25 years.” Erardi detailed a dinner at a casino in Lawrence, Ind. on Sept. 11, 2010 that almost caused Rose to miss an appearance at the Great American Ballpark to commemorate his 4,192nd hit. The dinner organizers pushed the start time back and Rose made his homecoming.
Later at the casino, Rose’s friends, family and former teammates gathered for a roast of the baseball great. At the end of the night, Rose got up to give his address, in which he returned several jabs others had delivered. But then he began to openly weep, apologizing to the teammates in attendance because, as he said, he “disrespected baseball.”
Rose fought MLB on the gambling charges against him for years before finally relenting and admitting to everything that was said of him. He may well have harbored ill will toward MLB, but on that night in Lawrence, Rose was just sorry.
“Rose started to lose it, and that really got your attention. It felt completely unscripted, completely sincere and very powerful,” Erardi told Kennedy. “I had covered Rose for more than 25 years and hadn’t ever heard him like that.”
If A-Rod can be suspended for 162 games for lying about his use of PEDs before dragging his employers’ and league executives’ names through the mud to try to clear himself, only to cut a deal, admit to what he did and return to earn $61 million in guaranteed money, then Pete Rose should be reinstated.
“I just want to be on that writers’ ballot,” Rose told Nightengale. “Let the writers decide. If they want me in, I’m in. If they don’t feel I should be in, I can live with it.
“Once they lift my ban, I should be just like anyone else. If I’ve never been on the ballot, my clock should start at zero. That will give them 10 years to decide, if they need it.”