David Lennon is an award-winning columnist and author who has been a staff writer at Newsday since 1991.
Pete Rose still is betting on baseball. And, incredibly, the Hit King still is lying about betting on baseball, according to the extensive, detailed report unveiled Monday by commissioner Rob Manfred.
Decisions don’t get much easier than the one Manfred had to make in upholding the lifetime ban on Rose, whose definition of “reconfigure” obviously doesn’t jibe with the commissioner’s. After an 11-month review, Manfred basically determined that Rose is too big a risk to allow back in the game.
That should come as no surprise, because what did Manfred have to gain by going against his predecessors and rolling the dice on someone who could make his life miserable?DocumentRead Rob Manfred's decision on Pete Rose
Kudos to the commish for even entertaining the idea. Turns out, Rose did all the dirty work for him. All Manfred had to do was provide the punctuation, and Monday’s scathing brief pretty much puts an end to any discussion about Rose’s future.
The chances of Rose being reinstated were microscopic to begin with. We’re not sure of the exact instructions Rose needed to follow, but living in Las Vegas as an unrepentant gambler probably didn’t make him an ideal candidate.
And betting legally doesn’t really matter in this case because Manfred was looking for a lifestyle change, some guarantee that Rose wouldn’t be phoning bookies again as the bench coach for the Marlins a year from now. That didn’t happen. Instead, Manfred got a bunch of mismatched stories, and he didn’t sound very pleased about it.
Manfred stated in the report, “Mr. Rose’s public and private comments, including his initial admission in 2004, provide me with little confidence that he has a mature understanding of his wrongful conduct, that he has accepted full responsibility for it, or that he understands the damage that he has caused.”
It’s important to remember that Rose’s punishment isn’t about time served, or saying enough’s enough. He’s on the permanently ineligible list, and although Rose has the right to plead his case to the commissioner, being banned for life usually works out that way, regardless of a player’s on-field credentials.
One interesting distinction Manfred did raise, however, was the Hall of Fame, which he made a point of mentioning in a weighty paragraph that came off like a verbal grenade lobbed in the direction of Cooperstown.
At 74, it’s not as if Rose is looking at a lengthy MLB career. His hope was that returning from exile would maybe get him in the Hall. A resume with 4,256 hits certainly deserves it.
“In my view,” Manfred wrote, “the considerations that should drive a decision on whether an individual should be allowed to work in baseball are not the same as those that should drive a decision on Hall of Fame eligibility.”
Small consolation for Rose, as the two are inextricably linked. The Hall of Fame already has established that any player on the permanently ineligible list can’t be up for election to Cooperstown. Not coincidentally, the rule was approved by the Hall’s board of directors in 1991 — two years after then-commissioner A. Bartlett Giamatti put Rose on the banished list and five years after his retirement, with Rose scheduled to be on the ballot that November. He never made it.
Don’t expect any leniency from Cooperstown, either. The Hall’s board has taken steps in the past few years to make getting elected more difficult for players linked to PEDs — most notably Barry Bonds and Roger Clemens — by installing changes to the BBWAA’s voting process. One is the all-time home run leader and the other won the Cy Young Award seven times, so the Hall’s conscience is OK with the Hit King having to buy a ticket for admission.
Even if Rose had been reinstated by Manfred, his candidacy then would be under review by the Expansion Era committee — not the BBWAA electorate — so the Hall could have stacked the deck against him anyway.
It had been a good year for Rose, who got the standing O before the All-Star Game in Cincinnati and was part of the Fox broadcast team, two activities Manfred had to sign off on. But pushing his luck with Rose, he determined, was a sucker’s bet.