Original subtitle: Is Pete Rose Bound for the Hall? Reinstatement?
For all I know, Pete Rose is a wonderful guy. When I was a kid I was a fan. I watched him set the all time record for hits. I watched him manage a team. He was awesome. Everyone knew what he meant to the game, and what the game meant to Pete.
Then came the fall. Pete Rose was proven to have gambled on baseball, and evidence pointed to him gambling on his own team. To this day, Pete has done nothing but deny the allegations. Because of this gambling on baseball, he has been banned from baseball, and a place in the Hall of Fame. He has been kept from passing his knowledge onto the generations of players who have come after him, and he has been denied the chance to achieve managerial greatness as many of his peer have.
Ever since his ban from the game, there has been a loud, vocal group which has petitioned and vehemently argued that Pete should be let back into the game. Their voices have been heard, over and over. Finally, they seem to have found a commissioner who wishes to listen.
But in baseball, there has been one rule which has stood over time and has applied to everyone since the Black Sox Scandal in 1919. Paraphrased, the rule states that any player caught gambling on professional baseball will be suspended from the game for a period of one year. Anyone caught gambling on a game in which they play will be banned from the sport for life. It is the fundamental capital offense in baseball, as well as in all other organized sports. It is posted in locker rooms around the world. Until now, baseball has overlooked many infractions, including criminal behavior, but has never overlooked this rule.
In every culture there are crimes that are considered so heinous that the society must remove the offender from society. The same must be true in baseball. A person who commits a capital crime knows that in the commission of the crime, they risk everything.
Letting Pete back into the fold would mean that baseball has no true laws, just the arbitrary and temporary ones set by a commissioner during their own tenure. It would mean that every suspension, every ban, and every decision is subject to review by each and every commissioner who ever sits in the future. These decisions can be appealed, time and time again. Forever. If Bud Selig overturns Rose’s ban he opens a Pandora’s box which cannot be closed again.
I don’t want to speak against Pete Rose. I believe he made mistakes. I also believe he never in any way meant to harm the game or its integrity. I believe he had an addiction and that if he bet baseball, he did it because it was what he knew best.
If this is also what Bud Selig believes, then the correct course of action is not to overturn the ban, but to look for ways for Rose to contribute to the game without violating to the ban, while changing the rules so that questions like this can be addressed by a standardized procedure in the future.
Pete should be an ambassador to the young generation of prospective players. I say this because what always impressed me most about Pete Rose was his love for the game. That love showed through and could inspire a lot of people to find out what a wonderful game baseball truly is. Even more than his bat, and the gambling he will be remembered for, that love can still serve the game.
There must be a consequence for Rose’s actions. He cannot undo what he has done, but baseball and its fans should not be deprived of the love and knowledge Pete has for the game. At this point in time when the fan base has been eroding and athletes have shown what poor role models they often make, there is a place for Pete.
I’m torn as to if Pete has a place in the Hall Of Fame. It's an honor he earned on the field, not through a sports book. Other Hall of Famers have had gambling problems. Some have have even been accused of fixing games, including Ty Cobb whose record for hits fell to Rose. Would the Hall be complete without them? Would it be complete without Rose? They were among baseball’s greatest players, and baseball turned a blind eye to their failings. To not do such a thing for Rose smacks of hypocrisy.
Even if excluded from the Hall, Pete should be an example of athleticism, love of the game, devotion and repentance for mistakes. An example in stark contrast to the cocky arrogance that many modern athletes exhibit.
Don’t misunderstand. Pete should not be allowed back to the major leagues at any level involving players on the field. He should be banned from ever managing or coaching at the Major League or high minor league level.
I propose that to gain conditional entry into the Hall of Fame, Rose should admit that he bet on sports. He should renounce sports betting in its entirety. Rose should also have a “parole officer” if you will, who can monitor his activities including mandatory counseling on gambling and financial irregularities (and I wouldn’t suggest Arthur Anderson). If Rose violates this “parole” he would forfeit his place in the Hall for all time.
If Pete Rose would accept this, then he could be allowed back into baseball in a very limited, public relations capacity. He would never be in a position to influence a game, or taint a game with the appearance of impropriety. However, Pete would finally have a chance to give something back to the sport, something the fans would be very eager to accept.