August 12, 2003
He's (about to be) baaaaack...

The Baseball Prospectus has an exclusive report which says that Pete Rose has reached an agreement with Major League Baseball that will allow him to come back in 2004 and includes no admission of wrongdoing by Rose. I am in shock.

When I first heard about this possibility, I was willing to accept it if Rose made a no-bullshit admission of wrongdoing. If BP's report is accurate and Major League Baseball is essentially wiping the slate clean without any such admission from Rose, then I will consider this the absolute worst thing that Bud Selig has ever done, even dwarfing his execrable anti-marketing and pervasive dishonesty about the game's finances. Frankly, if this report is true, I'm prepared to lead a pitchfork-and-torch assault on the Commissioner's Office. Any of the nineteen thousand candidates for California Governor, including Mary Carey, Gallagher, and Peter Ueberroth, would be a vast improvement over Beelzebud.

I'm too angry to think straight about this. Go read this Derek Zumsteg trifecta and this Rob Neyer column and you'll see why. I'm going to go bite through a chair leg and snarl a bit.

UPDATE: Mike T at Rhetoric & Rhythm sees it differently.

I am unabashedly a huge Pete Rose fan and have been so since I first picked up a baseball glove. The Cinncinnatti Reds were my team when I was growing up and Johnny Bench and Pete Rose baseball cards were the Holy Grail of my youth. So I was deeply disappointed when the whole Rose scandal broke out in the late '80s, but I also felt at the time as I do now that Rose paid for his mistake. I'll go over it again... he lost his job as manager of the Reds, he had to pay a sizable fine, he served time in jail, he suffered the humiliation of having his name forever associated with gambling on baseball, he suffered the indignity of being banned from baseball.... All of these things I could understand at the time, because gambling is a serious problem for professional sports and should be dealt with harshly whenever it is rooted out. However, the lifetime ban that has prevented Rose from inclusion in the Hall of Fame was and is over the top.

It's true that Rose has not gone unpunished in all of this. I guess what drives my anger on all this is that since his banishment, Rose has been very successful at convincing people that he really wasn't guilty. I've pointed to the Dowd Report before, and I'll reiterate again the most important part of it:

4. Peter Edward Rose acknowledges that the Commissioner has a factual basis to impose the penalty provided herein, and hereby accepts the penalty imposed on him by the Commissioner, and agrees not to challenge that penalty in court or otherwise. He also agrees he will not institute any legal proceedings against the Commissioner or any of his representatives, either Major League, or any Major League club.

Rose agreed to the punishment that was meted out. Subsequently, he has waged a (highly dishonest, in my view) PR campaign to discredit the same charges that he acknowledged at the time. You may be able to persuade me that Rose has been punished enough, or that the Hall of Fame ban on top of his disbarment from MLB is overkill, but Rose's attempts to obfuscate the facts really drive me nuts.

(Note: Rose's acknowledgement of "factual basis" for his punishment is part of his agreement with baseball, and not part of the evidence within the Dowd Report itself. I have been told that my wording here was a bit confusing, so I wanted to clear this up.)

But as I said before, I am willing to forgive, if not quite forget. All I ask is that Rose allocute to his crime. It's the thought that Rose may be welcomed back as someone who was done wrong, instead of someone who had done wrong, that I object to.

For what it's worth, MLB's chief operating officer, Bob de Puy, has denied BP's report.

DuPuy, who spoke to's Jayson Stark, said there has been "no decision, no agreement, no nothing" clearing the way for Rose to return to the game next year.

Baseball Prospectus, in a statement in response to DuPuy's denial, stood by its story, saying the report "was compiled using reliable sources. We believe that, in the end, our report will be found to be accurate."

A number of different sources familiar with Rose's situation have told Stark in recent days that Rose's case will become a top priority for commissioner Bud Selig right after the World Series. And indications are that, barring some unforeseen development, Rose could be reinstated before Thanksgiving.

However, contrary to the Baseball Prospectus report, the sources have consistently indicated that Rose would have to admit to betting on baseball and would have to apologize for damage he's done to the sport.

In fact, it wasn't until Rose sent word to Selig that he was open to some sort of admission and apology that the commissioner changed his stance last year on reinstatement.

"When a decision is made, it will be reported through the appropriate channels," DuPuy said in a statement later Tuesday.

If so, then I will have bitten that chair leg in vain. I can live with that. Will Carroll, one of the stories authors, stands by what he wrote.

Posted by Charles Kuffner on August 12, 2003 to Baseball | TrackBack

If you accept the premise that Bud Selig is Satan, then this all fits nicely into the master plan. Given the way baseball (doesn't) deal with druggies, wife-beater, and other moral reprobates, should we be surprised that an admitted gambler is getting off so easily?

Posted by: Jack Cluth on August 12, 2003 8:37 AM

You've touched on one of my hot button issues here and one where I will have to respectfully disagree. I've posted my thoughts on the matter over here.
I hope you didn't mess up one of your good chairs.

Posted by: Mike Thomas on August 12, 2003 12:37 PM

As someone who has loved baseball for as long as I can remember, and who can compartmentalize bad off-field behavior from athletic accomplishments, I'm *still* oppposed to the reinstatement of Pete Rose.

I read all the arguments about wife-beaters or tax cheats or whatever "and *they're* not banned from baseball", but that's a straw man. None of the other issues have anything to do with the integrity of what's on the field.

Pete Rose hustles on every play? I've always hated the Reds, up and down their line-up, but you gotta love that attitude. Pete Rose gambles on baseball -- on his *own team* -- and doesn't see where that might compromise the integrity of the game? Puh-leeeze.

I don't expect sports stars to be paragons of virtue or intellectual heavyweights, but this does not seem to be an issue of great complexity or moral shadings.

Does it seem silly that mature adults argue about him all these years after his exit? Well, if his Charlie Hustle side hadn't been so bright, so well-loved, if he hadn't caused fans to identify with him so much, then maybe they wouldn't have felt a surge of betrayal on such a personal level. Would we ever argue about whether to ban, oh, say, Bernie Carbo or Terry Steinbach if they had been caught gambling?

(We could make this more interesting if we pondered what the discussion would be like if Dick Allen or Curt Flood, burrs in the establishment's saddle when they were playing the game, had been caught gambling. Would baseball be trying to negotiate *their* return or would they be exiled without another word? What about someone who is detested on a personal level by a good part of the baseball public, Barry Bonds? Would his talent and accomplishments matter or would the public just say "good riddance"?)

Anyway, I'm with you, Charles -- Pete, 'fess up *like you mean it*, go into the Hall with a notation in big letters on your plaque that you defiled the game you claimed you loved, and then put the game in your rear-view mirror. You made your bed many times over, now you lie in it.

Posted by: NancyP on August 12, 2003 5:38 PM

Into the Hall? Yes.
Working in MLB? Hell no.

Posted by: BJ on August 12, 2003 7:32 PM

If you view the Hall of Fame as a shrine to an individual's career, then certainly Pete Rose belongs as a member. The only problem is that he did bet on baseball, did bet on his own team as a manager, and did thus compromise the integrity of the game. Since this must also be considered as part of his career, his record must be considered tarnished by what he did.

A better argument can be made for Shoeless Joe Jackson, who "signed" a confession admitting that he was in on the fix of the 1919 World Series even though he was illiterate! The evidence seems to have shown that he was not involved in the group, however, since we can't actually ask him 84 years later, we probably will never know with 100% certainty if he was or not. Nevertheless, his accomplishments as a player certainly would have put him in the Hall of Fame with the original group of five in 1936 if the 1919 Black Sox had never existed.

If Rose admits that he did gamble on baseball, I would let him in the Hall of Fame ASAP, but there is no way I would let him work in any capacity within Major League or Minor League affiliated baseball.

Posted by: William Hughes on August 12, 2003 9:27 PM

When i got arrested by the oc sherrif i went to the farm located in irvine ca, I met this gentleman name cooper lane. He said that he played for the cincinnati reds, but he had this drug problem wasted all his cash, and end up in jail. I just want to know if you ever heard this guy.

Posted by: jimmy on February 16, 2004 10:06 PM