The Top 25 Baseball Stories of 2015 — #13: Pete Rose finally gets his appeal. And loses it.

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We’re a few short days away from 2016 so it’s a good time to look back at the top 25 baseball stories of 2015. Some of them took place on the field, some of them off the field and some of them were creatures of social media, fan chatter and the like. No matter where the story broke, however, these were the stories baseball fans were talking about most this past year.

There’s an argument to be made that Pete Rose became more famous as a result of his being permanently banned from baseball in 1989 than he would’ve been if he never broke baseball’s gambling rules. Eventually, as all managers are, he would’ve been fired. Maybe he’d get one more job someplace outside of Cincinnati, but by the turn of the century or so he’d likely be some special assistant for the Reds, showing up at spring training and public events and the like. He’d be the Midwestern Tommy Lasorda. It’s a nice gig if you can get it, but it’s not the sort of thing that leads to big headlines, books and the rapt attention of radio listeners and readers of sports news. To this day Rose still gets that sort of attention, however, and it’s largely a function of his 26-year fight to be reinstated.

For a long time Rose claimed he was an innocent man. Then, when there was book money to be made, he admitted he was not an innocent man, but stopped short of admitting he bet on baseball as a player. Eventually news came out that, yeah, he probably bet on baseball as a player too. All the while Rose alternated between lamenting and making money off of his infamy. Not an ideal, but for Rose, also a good gig. At least a lucrative one. His autograph and appearance fees are much larger than they would’ve been if he was like any other old ballplayer.

Early this year Rob Manfred took over as baseball’s new commissioner and, unlike the old one, declared that he would give Rose a shot at reinstatement. Not a great shot, really. Manfred was under no obligation to review Rose’s case and made no suggestion that it was likely Rose’s ban would be overturned, but it was more of a shot than Rose had gotten since 1989.

Rose blew that shot. On December 14 Manfred ruled that Rose’s ban would not be overturned and that permanent would continue to mean exactly that.

Manfred’s decision made it abundantly clear that Rose, as recently as this summer, when his case was being reviewed, continued to lie about betting on baseball as a player as opposed to just while a manager. He said that Rose has no apparent understanding of how serious his past violations of baseball’s anti-gambling rules were and that he had done absolutely nothing to change his habits as a person which would suggest he wouldn’t continue to break those rules if he were reinstated.

Rose responded defiantly to all of this in a Las Vegas (natch) press conference the following day, but added nothing new. After so many years in the wilderness — almost as many years as he spent in Major League bBaseball, actually — he probably doesn’t know how else to respond.

And so Pete Rose beats on, a sternwheeler gambling boat against the current, borne back ceaselessly into the past.

Pujols has 2 more RBIs, Cardinals beat Pirates 8-7 in 10

Cincinnati Reds v St. Louis Cardinals
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PITTSBURGH – Albert Pujols drove in two more runs and the St. Louis Cardinals went on to beat the Pittsburgh Pirates 8-7 in 10 innings Tuesday night.

Pujols hit a two-run single in the third inning to push his career total to 2,218 RBIs. That came a night after he broke a tie with Babe Ruth for second place on the career list. Hank Aaron holds the record with 2,287.

Cardinals manager Oliver Marmol then removed the 42-year-old Pujols at the end of the inning. St. Louis opens postseason play Friday when it hosts a best-of-three National League wild-card series.

Juan Yepez gave the Cardinals the win when he hit a tiebreaking single with one in the 10th inning off Chase De Jong (6-3) to score automatic runner Ben Deluzio.

“Tonight was interesting because you’re fairly scripted in who you want to use and who you don’t want to use and what you want tomorrow to look like so you can get ready for Friday,” Cardinals manager Oliver Marmol said. “It was a good one to still figure out a way to come out on top.”

The Cardinals threw out the potential tying run at home in the bottom of the 10th when automatic runner Kevin Newman tried to score from second base on Oneil Cruz‘s line single off the glove of first baseman Alec Burleson. The ball deflected to second baseman Brendon Donovan, who threw home to catcher Andrew Knizner.

The Pirates challenged the call, but it was upheld on video review.

“I thought we were going to get it overturned,” Newman said. “I just thought he didn’t tag me until he got higher up on the body.”

It was the Pirates’ 100th loss, the second year in a row they have reached that mark.

The Cardinals got two hits each from Donovan, Corey Dickerson, Knizner and Paul DeJong.

Cruz had three hits for the Pirates and Bryan Reynolds, Rodolfo Castro, Jack Suwinski, Ke'Bryan Hayes and Ji-Hwan Bae added two apiece. Miguel Andujar drove in two runs.

Chris Stratton (10-4) pitched two scoreless innings for the win.

“They weren’t the prettiest two innings I’ve ever pitched but I got a great play from the defense in the 10th inning to help me out,” Stratton said. “It was a good play all the way around.’

Pujols’ hit put the Cardinals ahead 3-1 but the Pirates answered with six runs in the bottom of the third. Andujar’s run-scoring double highlighted an inning that includes RBI singles by Castro, Suwinski, Ben Gamel and Bae.

The Cardinals then scored four runs in the seventh inning to tie the score at 7-all. Donovan hit an RBI single, Dickerson drove in two runs with a double and the tying run scored on a throwing error by Cruz, the rookie shortstop.

Both starting pitchers lasted just 2 2/3 innings. The Cardinals’ Dakota Hudson was rocked for seven runs and nine hits while the Pirates’ JT Brubaker allowed three runs on four hits.

Brubaker was activated from the injured list before the game. He had been out since Sept. 16 with right lat discomfort.

HELSLEY HURT

Reliever Ryan Helsley, the Cardinals’ closer, left in the eighth inning with a jammed right middle finger. Helsley was injured after catching a line drive by Bae and using his hands to brace himself while dodging a piece of a broken bat.

Helsley said he expects to be ready to pitch Friday.

“I don’t think there was anything super wrong with it,” Helsley said. `Just give it some rest and let it resolve itself.”

ROSTER MOVES

The Pirates optioned right-hander Roansy Contreras to Triple-A Indianapolis to clear a roster spot for Brubaker. They also recalled infielder/outfielder Tucapita Marcano from Indianapolis and optioned catcher Jose Godoy to the same club.

PIRATES AWARDS

Center fielder Bryan Reynolds was voted the winner of the Roberto Clemente Award, emblematic of the Pirates’ MVP, by the Pittsburgh chapter of the Baseball Writers Association of America.

Mitch Keller won the Steve Blass Award for best pitcher. Former infielder Michael Chavis was voted the Chuck Tanner Good Guy Award.

TRAINER’S ROOM

Cardinals: OF Tyler O'Neill (strained right hamstring) has been ruled out for the wild-card series but St. Louis is hopeful he can play in the NLDS round if it advances. . 3B Nolan Arenado (left quadriceps tightness) missed his second straight game but could play Wednesday.

UP NEXT

Cardinals: Have not decided on a starter for Wednesday, though Marmol said LHP Matthew Liberatore (2-1, 5.46) and RHP Jake Woodford (4-0, 2.33) are possibilities.

Pirates: RHP Johan Oviedo (4-3, 3.12), who was acquired from the Cardinals on Aug. 1, gets the start.