pete rose getty

Pete Rose will be allowed to participate in All-Star Game festivities

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Pete Rose remains banned from baseball, but he has been given the equivalent of a weekend furlough from the penitentiary: Commissioner Rob Manfred said today that Rose will be allowed to participate in activities surrounding this summer’s All-Star Game in Cincinnati.

Rose, a Reds legend, native and resident of Cincinnati, remains immensely popular in Cincinnati and his inclusion in activities around the All-Star Game seemed inevitable. Indeed, many suspect that Rose will soon be reinstated by Commissioner Manfred, who recently agreed to consider Rose’s appeals anew. Rose was also recently hired for a commentator’s position at Fox Sports, which is a rights holder for Major League Baseball broadcasts. The league reportedly was consulted on the Fox hire, though Manfred has denied that Major League Baseball had any “input” in the decision.

The last time Rose was offered some sort of special dispensation by Major League Baseball was in 2013, when took part in a Reds ceremony honoring the 1975 and 1976 “Big Red Machine” championship teams. He was also back in 2010, when he was allowed to participate in a ceremony celebrating the 25th anniversary of his breaking of Ty Cobb’s all-time hit record. Before that, Rose was allowed on the field in 1999 as part of a celebration of his inclusion on the All-Century Team.

This bit of leave from his exile, however, coming in one of Major League Baseball’s “Jewel Events” will likely be far more significant than those appearances. And could possibly be the harbinger of Rose’s permanent reinstatement to baseball.

Pete Rose joins FOX as a baseball analyst

pete rose getty
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This isn’t quite reinstatement, but it is mighty interesting. FOX has hired MLB’s all-time hits leader Pete Rose as a baseball analyst.

According to FOX Sports’ Ken Rosenthal, Rose will serve as a guest analyst for the MLB on FOX pregame show on FOX and FOX Sports 1. He’ll also appear on “MLB Whiparound,” “America’s Pregame” and “FOX Sports Live” on FOX Sports 1.

FOX didn’t require MLB’s permission to hire Rose, but they did inform them about the possibility.

“As a courtesy, FOX informed us that they were interviewing Pete Rose for an on-air studio position,” said Pat Courtney, baseball’s chief communications officer. “The decision to hire on-air talent for its telecasts rests solely with FOX.”

Rose has officially filed for reinstatement with MLB and new commissioner Rob Manfred intends to take a look at the situation. For what it’s worth, Rose said that he didn’t take this job with the idea that it will help his cause:

“I don’t even worry about that. I’ve never thought about that,” Rose said. “I’m just trying to give back to baseball. Hopefully people will watch and I’ll make some good points that will help them understand the game more.

“I’m not concentrating or worrying about reinstatement. I’m worried about working, having fun. This will be fun for me. It won’t be like work. That’s the way I look at it.”

To this current generation of fans, Rose is mostly known for his banishment from the game more than anything he did as a player. With this new position, he’ll get a chance to talk about and analyze the game on the field. And that could be a lot of fun.

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

pete rose getty
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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

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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.