On Monday MLB commissioner Mike Manfred denied Pete Rose’s bid to be readmitted to the good graces of baseball. As is often the case, the name of the late commissioner Bart Giamatti was invoked, saying Rose has not complied with Giamatti’s his famous clause that Rose “reconfigure his life.” Well, if you’re going to use some of Giamatti’s words as an excuse, then all of his words should be used.
First of all, Manfred was probably right to deny Rose. Regardless of any new alleged evidence that has surfaced about his previous gambling, Rose admitted he continues to bet on baseball, albeit legally in the casinos of his adopted hometown of Las Vegas. He is obviously a compulsive gambler, and clearly would not stop if he is reinstated and lands of a job with a team. He also admitted he has never sought counseling for his addiction, which means he is pretty much okay with it.
But this is less about Pete Rose working in baseball and more about the Hall of Fame. When Giamatti banned Rose, he said it had nothing to do with the Hall of Fame. Of course, it did two years later when the Hall ruled anyone on the permanently ineligible list will also be ineligible for enshrinement in the Hall of Fame.
Giamatti appeared to have no intention of banning Rose from the Hall. Did he want the voters to make that judgment? We’ll never know, since he died a couple of weeks after handing down his verdict. All we do know is that the Hall of Fame directors made the decision for everyone. And now everyone mentions Giamatti when they talk about Rose and the Hall, and that really is not fair to Giamatti or Pete Rose.
What would be fair is to have Rose judged by a jury of his peers, not by some guys in a board room in Cooperstown. They are the ones who should decide Rose’s fate — not writers or the Veterans Committee or baseball historians. Have a special one-time vote in which all living members of the Hall of Fame vote on Pete Rose. If he gets 75%, he’s in. If not, we are done with this argument forever.
Pete Rose obviously violated one of the cardinal rules of baseball. Still though, his achievements between the lines make this a special case, and thus Rose deserves at least one real chance to get into the Hall of Fame.