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Is Pete Rose going to get a pardon?

Jul 27, 2009, 10:09 AM EDT

This would be interesting:

Thanks to the behind-the-scenes lobbying from some of the most
influential Hall of Famers, commissioner Bud Selig is said to be
seriously considering lifting Pete Rose’s lifetime suspension from
baseball.

The tip-off that Selig may now be inclined to pardon baseball’s
all-time hit king was Hank Aaron’s seemingly impromptu interview
session with a small group of reporters in the lobby of the Otesaga
Hotel on Saturday. In declaring for the first time that he would want
an asterisk put on the achievements of any steroid cheats elected to
the Hall of Fame, Aaron brought up Rose, who, in August of 1989, was
given a lifetime ban for gambling on baseball, saying: “I would like to
see Pete in. He belongs there.”

My personal feeling on the Rose situation is that, given his past, he
should never ever be allowed to be in a position where he could impact
or effect what happens on the field. That means no coaching, no
managing, no front office position that touches on baseball operations,
and no supervision or authority over anyone who does. But the fact
remains that Rose remains a very popular figure among the fans — he
gets standing ovations simply by walking to a seat for which he bought
a ticket at Great American Park — and could probably do a lot to
promote the Reds in particular, baseball at large, and the charitable
organizations affiliated with those entities if given the chance. Such
a thing could be accomplished if he were given a limited reinstatement.
Such a thing would also likely cut down on the amount of shameless
self-promotion in which he engages as well, because he likely wouldn’t
need to make an ass out of himself for a paycheck, and that’s something
that baseball should care about.

And yes, reinstatement means renewed eligibility for the Hall of Fame
via the Veterans’ Committee. I’ve gone back and forth on this over the
years, but as of now I think Rose probably should be in the Hall of
Fame. Why? Because at bottom, the Hall of Fame is a museum/historical
society, and I don’t like the idea of whitewashing history. Maybe you
don’t give him his big day on the podium like Rice and Henderson had
yesterday, but not having his plaque up there bothers my sense of
historical accuracy far more than having it up there would bother my
sense of ethics. And obviously the plaque has to mention his
bannination and the reasons for it. I realize that reasonable people
disagree on this point, of course.

Of course this raises the question of what, if anything, a Rose
reinstatement would mean for the steroids users. True, they’re not
banned and thus their eligibility for the Hall hasn’t been technically
affected, but I do think Rose being allowed back into the game would
have an impact on them all the same. I say this because I can’t help
but think that, at the heart of many BBWAA members’ feelings regarding
steroids users, is the sentiment that “hey, if baseball can keep out
Rose for violating the gambling rules, I can use my vote to keep out
steroids users.” If Rose was back, isn’t it possible that some writers
would re-think their opposition to the PED guys? That no one should
stand in the way of history being recorded the way it should be?

I suppose reasonable people can disagree about that too.

  1. Stop Sweating - Feb 8, 2010 at 4:44 PM

    Hello. Excellent job. I did not expect this on a Wednesday. This basically a wonderful story. Thanks!

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