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


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.

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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.

Pete Rose would love to meet Rob Manfred

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Rob Manfred makes a lot of money, but there are some things he has to deal with that I’d not wish on my worst enemy. From Bob Nightengale’s latest:

Rose badly wants to talk to new Commissioner Rob Manfred and state his case . . . “I wish I could tell that I know what he’ll do,” Rose tells USA TODAY Sports, “but I’ve never met him. I’ve never seen him.

“But I’d love to talk to him.”

Manfred has spent the first few weeks of his commissionership talking to every single media outlet that asks for his time. Really, if you put out hardcore punk ‘zines in the late 80s, you probably got a sit-down with Manfred some time recently. I’d bet a great deal of money, however, that Rose doesn’t make it onto Manfred’s agenda any time soon.

Pete Rose will be at the All-Star Game in Cincinnati this year

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The 2015 MLB All-Star Game will take place at Great American Ball Park in Cincinnati on July 14. One of the big questions surrounding the event is if Pete Rose will be on hand for the occasion despite his lifetime ban from baseball. Now we have our answer via Reds owner Bob Castellini:

For the record, here’s what outgoing commissioner Bud Selig had to say on the topic last July:

“That will be up to the Cincinnati club, and they know what they can do and can’t do. It’s sort of been subjective. But they’ve done some things with Pete, but they’ve been very, very thoughtful and limited. But that’s a subject that I’m sure they’ll discuss in the next year.”

While it’s now confirmed that Rose will be at the All-Star Game, it’s unclear what his role will be. Still, he’s going to be a hot topic no matter what, so there’s no need to pretend like he doesn’t exist. Of course, this won’t be the first time Rose has been back in an MLB stadium since his ban. He was allowed to participate in baseball’s All-Century Team ceremony during the 1999 World Series and has been on the field at Great American Ball Park for a couple of ceremonies in recent years.

Shockingly, Pete Rose backtracks on something he’s been saying for years

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Every few months someone gets it into their head to interview Pete Rose and every few months we get a different take from the Hit King. Really, the guy takes the “let’s see if I can say THIS” approach to interviews, saying one thing one time and a completely opposite thing another, apparently believing no one keeps track of the stuff he says over the years.

His most recent subject of hilarious inconsistency is his stance on PED users and the Hall of Fame. For years he has made a point to tell people that, hey, he may have gambled on baseball, but he was no stinkin’ drug cheat. THOSE are the guys with problems and they were way worse. They “altered the statistics” of the game.

He even has a little rehearsed spiel too, in which he says “ask Babe Ruth, ask Roger Maris, ask Hank Aaron” etc., about how they feel that their records were broken by PED users, and how that’s the real ethical problem in baseball. He said this almost word-for-word in 2010 and said it again a little less than a year ago. He specifically calls out Barry Bonds for tainting both the single-season and career home run records.

Now, however, he’s taking a live-and-let-live approach:

A three-time World Series champion with Cincinnati and Philadelphia, Rose thinks some others denied entry in the Hall — due to links to performance enhancing drugs — belong.

“Would I vote for Roger Clemens? You’re damn right I would. Would I vote for Barry Bonds? You’re damn right I would. These guys are seven-time MVPs, seven-time Cy Young Award winner,” said Rose.

Keep hustling, Charlie. Maybe someday you’ll find some magic words that make everyone change their mind about you.