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No Pete Rose: Baseball Hall of Fame means nothing

pete rosePete Rose’s bid for reinstatement to baseball was denied Monday by MLB Commissioner Rob Manfred, who in his ruling leaves open the chance that the all-time hits leader can one day earn induction into the Baseball Hall of Fame.

Regarding Rose’s application for reinstatement, Manfred cited “new evidence” of Rose’s misdeeds as manager of the Cincinnati Reds involving bets placed on games in a decision on Rose’s most recent effort at reinstatement, though he didn’t need “new evidence” to tell him that Rose gambled on baseball in clear and obvious violation of the rules of the game.

Rose conceded as much in agreeing to be banished from the game in 1989, and few are arguing 27 years later that he should be returned to a dugout or a front office in any official capacity.

And yet as relates to the Hall of Fame, he’s still the Hit King, and no amount of pretending that he isn’t one of the game’s greats makes it so.

The same is true of Barry Bonds and Roger Clemens, baseball’s best home-run hitter and maybe its best pitcher. Try as they might to keep Bonds and Clemens out of the Hall because of their PED use, baseball’s gatekeepers are only fooling themselves.

Nobody is nominating Bonds, Clemens or Rose for sainthood. But to suggest that the only reason that Bonds and Clemens were at the top of the game in the ‘90s and ‘00s was because of PEDs is ridiculous; and to suggest that Rose deserves to be eternally outcast from the game because of a personally destructive addiction is vindictive and bordering on the sophomoric.

It was refreshing to see Rose featured in Fox TV coverage of the 2015 playoffs and World Series, and his presence made it seem like a thaw in the cold war between MLB and Rose was on the horizon.

Turns out that was not the case.

“Mr. Rose’s public and private comments, including his initial admission in 2004, provide me with little confidence that he has a mature understanding of his wrongful conduct, that he has accepted full responsibility for it, or that he understands the damage he has caused,” Manfred wrote in his decision on Rose’s appeal for reinstatement issued on Monday.

Fair enough. At this stage in his life, Rose isn’t going to be able to translate reinstatement into a full-time managerial gig.

Whatever you feel about his contrition or lack thereof, reinstatement was in actuality all about the Hall of Fame.

Manfred kicked that can down the road Monday.

“The issue of whether Mr. Rose should be eligible for Hall of Fame election under the bylaws of that organization presents an entirely different policy determination that is focused on a range of considerations distinct from the more narrow question before me — i.e., whether I believe that Mr. Rose’s reinstatement would be consonant with the policy rationale underlying Rule 21. Thus, any debate over Mr. Rose’s eligibility for the Hall of Fame is one that must take place in a different forum,” Manfred wrote.

So, the ball is in the Hall’s hands.

Note to those gatekeepers: a Hall of Fame without Pete Rose isn’t a Hall of Fame that I’m ever going to visit.

– Column by Chris Graham

augusta free press
augusta free press