Pete Rose: It’s Time To Give Credit Where Credit Is Due

It’s been 25 years since Pete Rose was banned from baseball. Now, with a new commissioner Rob Manfred at the helm, Rose has made a formal request to be reinstated.

“I want to make sure I understand all of the details of the Dowd Report and Commissioner [Bart] Giamatti’s decision and the agreement that was ultimately reached,” Manfred said to the press in Arizona on Monday morning. “I want to hear what Pete has to say, and I’ll make a decision once I’ve done that.”

Rule 21(d): Any player, umpire, or club or league official or employee, who shall bet any sum whatsoever upon any baseball game in connection with which the bettor has a duty to perform shall be declared permanently ineligible.

We all know the rule. You can find it printed on every clubhouse wall and can probably have it recited to you verbatim by any member of Major League Baseball. Almost everyone gets it and if this were a speech, this is the point where I would pause so everyone’s eyes would slowly gravitate toward Pete Rose, sitting in his “permanently ineligible” time-out corner.

You broke the rules, Mr. Rose. You bet on games that you could manipulate and nearly made a mockery of the integrity of the game. You hid, lied and denied before accepting a form of plea bargain from the league. You accepted a lifetime ban and in exchange, you only asked that baseball refrain from making any “formal findings” in relation to your gambling on the Reds. In a way, Charlie, Major League Baseball hustled you.

A plea bargain in the American criminal justice system is when a criminal is leniently sentenced in exchange for their admission of guilt. There are two sides to a bargain, and both ends must uphold their specified obligations. If the prosecutor does not fulfill it’s end of the bargain it is then voided and the criminal is able to withdraw his plea. Baseball has not held up its end of the bargain.

Since baseball is not a legal institution it is unclear what constitutes a “formal finding”. We know that MLB has, through both present officials and former employees, publicly conveyed that Rose was in fact guilty of the only thing he was ever accused of: betting on the Cincinnati Reds during his managerial period. Therefore we can conclude that MLB has made (several) formal findings when it promised not to.

Rose was well aware of the rule regarding gambling and was banned accordingly. Is the rule outlandish? That argument could be made. But there’s something that exceeds that rule in ridiculousness: the fact that the only place we can find Rose’s name is on baseball’s ineligible list and not the hall of fame.

Come on, Hall of Fame Board, it’s time to give credit where credit is due. I could make this argument for a lot of different people, but we’re sticking with Mr. Hustle for now. What is this pointless rule that because a person is ineligible to play, they are also ineligible to become a part of baseball’s highest honor?

(Points taken from New York Times article)

“The directors felt that it would be incongruous to have a person who has been declared ineligible by baseball to be eligible for baseball’s highest honor”

The purpose of the baseball hall of fame is to celebrate the history and achievements of major league baseball and it’s players. The baseball hall of fame is not Major League Baseball itself and is not governed by Major League Baseball. What’s incongruous is that this rule was established (without notification to the HOF voters) soon after Rose’s declared ineligibility and never before.

“Pete Rose is a part of baseball history and he should be part of the museum.”

This admitted by then hall president Edward Stack, who initiated the ban on ineligible players from the hall. His statement is clarifying why some of Rose’s memorabilia is in the hall, but not Rose himself. He stated that there are “two parts to the Hall — the Hall of Fame gallery, where the greats of baseball are honored, and the rest of the museum, where thousands of artifacts are displayed.” Basically, Rose’s bat is important but not Rose. Because bats step up to the plate and connect with the ball, not hitters. And pencils make spelling errors, not humans.

The hall of fame should have no business ignoring history. His 4,256 career hits deserve a tip of the cap and a spot on the wall, not a subtle glance. Screen Shot 2015-03-16 at 3.18.43 PM

The above statistics deserve hall of fame glory, and you shouldn’t have to read this sentence to recognize that.

If not let into the hall, then Rose should be reinstated to baseball. 25 years is long enough. Rose gave plenty to Major League Baseball. He has an astounding 24 year career to prove it. Some people will want to keep their foot pressed firmly against Rose’s throat and refuse his allowance back into the game. Note that it’s the same game a high school drop out pursued and loved fiercely and rigorously. He made a mistake but a list of contributions and achievements shouldn’t go unnoticed because of one smudge on the page.

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