Craig Calcaterra

pete rose getty

Reinstate Pete Rose if you will, MLB. But you really don’t have to.

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Today Buster Olney (Insider only; sorry) argues that Rob Manfred should reinstate Pete Rose:

More than 25 years has passed since Bart Giamatti announced that Pete Rose had accepted lifetime banishment from baseball.

That’s long enough.

No real purpose is served by keeping him locked away from the sport anymore. The time has come for Major League Baseball to find some middle ground with Rose — to let him back in, in some way, to create a loophole within the rules they control.

We’ve been over this a million times here, of course. And my position, while evolving a bit over the years, is still generally the same: reinstate Rose if you want to. He’s past the point now where any team would give him a job in baseball operations, so the risk that he’d do any harm is pretty minimal. Fans would like it and want to see it. He could very likely serve an excellent philanthropic role if baseball forced him to as a condition of his reinstatement. If Rob Manfred does decide to do it, I won’t get too bent out of shape. It’ll be a thing that happens and life will go on.

But I do get a tad irked at the rhetoric such that Olney deploys here. “That’s long enough.” The idea that Rose has served ample time and is deserving of baseball’s mercy. Or that, as some people put it, it is incumbent upon baseball to reinstate Rose. As if it’s a problem that baseball has to solve. The “time has come?” How, exactly? What has happened that has changed anything?

On the last point: no, it’s not a problem baseball has to solve, actually. Baseball banned him permanently. It can, in all good conscience, keep him banned. There is nothing forcing baseball’s hand here. Yes, some fans would like to see the gesture, but it’s not as if Pete Rose is unavailable to them. Hell, he’s more available than most ballplayers. He has made appearances at Reds games. He’s on TV and signing autographs all the time. Really, life will go on quite nicely for baseball if Pete Rose is never reinstated. The circumstances surrounding Pete Rose’s status are not exigent to anyone but Pete Rose.

As to the point of mercy: I wish the people who argue for Rose’s reinstatement — those who claim he has served “long enough” — would remember a few things about the time Rose has served. That his sentence was one he agreed to, voluntarily and with full knowledge that it was intended to be permanent. That he has served a ban at which he constantly thumbed his nose while lying to both those who had his potential reinstatement in their hands and the fans who were played for idiots for years until Rose finally, and calculatedly, decided to come clean in 2004. That his coming clean was to sell books.  I’m all for mercy. But there aren’t a lot of inmates serving life sentences who have their time commuted to 25 years. There are even fewer of them who get that treatment after failing to serve their time with good behavior. That’s where Rose is.

Which isn’t to say that baseball shouldn’t reinstate him. Again, no real harm will be done if it did. But let us not pretend that baseball owes Pete Rose anything or that Pete Rose deserves anything. If baseball were to reinstate him it would be a 100% free, selfless and charitable act. The sort of act with which Pete Rose is not, as far as can be told, personally familiar with.

The Reds and Aroldis Chapman avoid arbitration

aroldis chapman getty
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Mark Sheldon of MLB.com reports that the Reds and Aroldis Chapman avoided arbitration today with a one-year deal. The terms are unknown, but Chapman submitted a $8.7 million figure while the Reds’ proposal was $6.65 million. Figure the midpoint is what he’ll be paid.

Chapman will be 27 this season. Last year he saved 36 games with a 2.00 ERA and 106 strikeouts in 54 innings which is simply ridiculous.

UPDATE: Strike that midpoint talk: Jeff Passan reports that the deal is $8.05 million, which is nearly half a million above the midpoint.

James Shields can opt out of his contract after two years

shields presser
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Here’s a new wrinkle to the James Shields deal:

Interesting.

Shields is slated to make “only” $10 million next season and it jumps to $21 million in 2016. If he opted out he’d lose $21 million salaries in 2017 and 2018 and a potential $16 million on a team option for 2019. There’s a $2 million buyout if the team doesn’t exercise the option.

When the 2016 season ends, Shields will be 35. Unless he elevates his game to unexpected heights, it seems highly unlikely that it would make any kind of financial sense for him to opt-out, any kind of deal for him at that point would not likely guarantee him $44 million over those next two years.

Alison Gordon, the first woman baseball beat writer, dies at 72

Notepad
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When she started covering the Toronto Blue Jays in 1979, Alison Gordon became the first woman beat writer in Major League Baseball. She also was the first woman admitted into the Baseball Writers Association of America. Sadly, she died yesterday at the age of 72.

Go read the Toronto Star’s obituary of Gordon and learn about the life and career of a true pioneer.

Does Jeffrey Loria deserve another chance from Marlins fans?

jeffrey loria getty
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Kind of an odd column from Greg Cote of the Miami Herald. In it he notes that (a) a lot of Marlins fans really dislike team owner Jeffrey Loria; and (b) there are a lot of reasons to be excited about the Marlins right now. Both of those things are, from what I can tell, unassailably true.

But then:

In any case as the 2015 baseball season draws near it may be time the grudge-holders hit the reset button on Loria and give his ownership a fresh look with new eyes.

Why? Is it not possible to still hate Jeff Loria and wish he’d sell the team and root for the players and the team? Or is he talking about the people who have boycotted the Marlins because of Loria, of which I assume there are some? In that case, isn’t the disgust for Loria so great that nothing which happens on the field will sway them?

Here’s a proposition: based on copious evidence that he’s a miserable baseball owner who has caused far more harm than good by virtue of his stewardship of two franchises (one now dead, in no small part thanks to him), baseball fans can reasonably refuse to give Jeff Loria a “fresh look with new eyes” and instead just watch some baseball games.

Or do we have to root for owners now too?