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?