pete rose getty

Rob Manfred says it would be hard to reinstate Pete Rose in a limited way

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I’ve long argued that, if you’re going to reinstate Pete Rose, it may be a good idea to limit his reinstatement to roles in which he would not have any direct say or impact over players or strategic baseball decisions. Maybe this matters less now than it would’ve a few years ago, as I have also noted that Rose is probably too old and has been out of the game too long to be a serious candidate for a managing, coaching or executive job, but it’s still something worth considering.

Jayson Stark spoke to Rob Manfred recently, however, and Manfred seems to think that a Rose reinstatement would have to be an all-or-nothing proposition:

Manfred said that while he’s open to discussing different compromise scenarios, “that’s going to be a product of the process that we work through with Pete and his representatives . . . I’m not sure that human beings can slice that that thin. You know what I’m saying? You’re either in or you’re out of the game to some extent.”

Manfred noted that it’s a practical issue of monitoring what Rose would be doing. If, say, he was in Cincinnati and his title was something which suggested he was outside of baseball operations, how would anyone know if he was secretly immersing himself in the day-to-day baseball operations of the club.

I can see that. But on some level maybe he’s a Tommy Lasorda figure, right? Lasorda has not been an official, day-to-day Dodgers baseball operations guy for some time. He’s currently a “Special Advisor to the Chairman.” His responsibilities include “scouting, evaluating and teaching minor league players, acting as an advisor and ambassador for the Dodgers’ international affiliations, and representing the franchise at more than 100 speaking engagements and appearances to various charities, private groups and military personnel each year.”

There are some baseball ops things in there. But, really, anyone who is around the Dodgers knows that Lasorda’s biggest job is to just hang around and be Tommy Lasorda. He’s not telling Don Mattingly who to play. He’s not pressuring Andrew Friedman about trades. If he’s talking to some young Dodgers player, it’s a history lesson, not serious baseball instruction most of the time. Everyone knows the chain of command there.

I feel like we’d see much the same thing with Pete Rose and the Reds, even if he had an unconditional reinstatement. To someone like Billy Hamilton, Rose is more historical figure than anything else. If Rose went up to him and tried to get him in on some crazy gambling scheme, doesn’t it stand to reason that Hamilton would nod, smile and then walk away and roll his eyes? Or, if he didn’t, that someone in Cincinnati would say something if Rose was overstepping reasonable bounds? He’s a very different figure now than he was in the 1980s.

So I doubt it’s a big deal one way or the other. Yes, it’s important that a reinstated Rose not be in a position to influence outcomes in any substantive way. But is it really likely that he even would be?

Pete Rose has applied for reinstatement; Rob Manfred is considering it

pete rose getty
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This is not the most surprising news in the world, but the Commissioner taking it seriously and commenting on it is at least somewhat notable compared to how Bud Selig handled it for 20 years (i.e. with almost complete silence):

As I wrote recently, it’d be a pure act of charity for Major League Baseball to even listen to his case because, really, it doesn’t have to. Indeed, we’re to a point in time where “the merits” aren’t as likely as big an issue with Major League Baseball as the fact that, at some point, Rose is just too damn old to be a nuisance anymore and the league can afford to show some mercy if it wants to.

At the same time, it sort of doesn’t matter if Rose is reinstated or not given that the chances of him working in baseball operations is vanishingly small. And, as I’ve argued many times in the past, if Rose were to put some of his fame and notoriety among the fans to philanthropic purposes in conjunction with the Cincinnati Reds, a lot of good could be done, I reckon.

Based on how they’ve proceeded in the past, I wouldn’t expect Rose or his backers to think of it in those terms, though. I assume that, even if he is reinstated, they’ll think of it as vindication of some kind, which would both be wrong and something of a shame. But again, it ain’t like Pete Rose is a pressing issue to modern baseball anymore. Reinstating him would mostly affect whether he could make his appearances and sign autographs in or out of actual ballparks.

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

pete rose getty
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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.