Harper: Pete Rose will never get it, and that’s a sure bet

By on December 15, 2015
John Harper


Updated: Monday, December 14, 2015, 10:17 PM

If Pete Rose proves anything, it's that he just doesn't get it.Elsa/Getty Images

If Pete Rose proves anything, it’s that he just doesn’t get it.

All Pete Rose had heard since 1989 was that if he wanted any chance at being reinstated in his sport, he had to “reconfigure his life.” So here he was, knowing for months he would get one last chance to make his case to a new commissioner, yet somehow Rose apparently thought it was OK to continue betting on baseball games.

It would be funny if it weren’t so sad.

In the end, then, Rose didn’t give Rob Manfred a choice. And maybe it wouldn’t have mattered. Maybe Manfred was determined to carry out the enforcement of the lifetime ban that Bart Giamatti handed down 26 years ago.

But how do we know? Rose made it all but academic by admitting to Manfred — after first denying, naturally — that he was still betting on various sports, including baseball, in Las Vegas where he lives.

Legal or not, it was more evidence that Rose still doesn’t get it, after all these years. Either he thinks he’s above the law, as it pertains to his case, or he’s helpless to stop wagering on baseball.

Either way he made it impossible for Manfred to justify allowing him back in baseball. Instead the door has been slammed shut for good on Rose, and that’s too bad.

There’s a reason, after all, that Rose was once as popular as any player in the game, one whose ban for gambling on baseball still generates so much passion among his supporters.

He was as charismatic as he was driven, turning himself into baseball’s all-time hits leader as much with a relentless work ethic as talent.

As such most everybody wanted a happy ending here — a rehabilitated Rose being welcomed back after all these years. Problem is he’s never even shown any true remorse for breaking baseball’s most unforgiving rule.

Then again, perhaps after all these years he likes being the outlaw. It’s good for business; the business of selling Hit King autographs and merchandise, the business of being famous.

All these years later being the outlaw earns Rose TV commercials, like the one in which he jokes about not being allowed in the hall of his own house. And it even got him hired by Fox to do studio analysis last season, when Rose came off like the crazy old uncle whose off-the-wall observations seemed to leave everyone around him uncertain how to respond.

Whatever drives Rose these days, at age 74, it clearly has not been a desire to make everything right with baseball again.

He could have made this so much harder on Manfred. Instead the commissioner merely stated the obvious, that in his judgment Rose still hadn’t “accepted responsibility” for his baseball crime or had any real understanding of what he’d done wrong.

FILEAndy Lyons

Even with a groundswell of support, Rose can’t make the right moves to chance his situation.

Not that deciding to uphold the ban doesn’t carry with it inherent hypocrisy about gambling, considering that MLB is partnering for profit with those fantasy sports sites that have been declared illegal in New York.

And you can certainly make the case that if Barry Bonds and Mark McGwire are allowed to be major-league hitting coaches, after their use of steroids rendered home run records practically irrelevant, Rose should be forgiven.

It’s not as if he’d be anything more than a spring training instructor for the Reds, but again, Rose’s continued gambling practices make him at least a perceived threat against the integrity of the game were he to be reinstated, and that’s where any such argument should end.

The only issue that could be up for debate is the Hall of Fame. Manfred opened that door a bit himself by making the point that, as far as he was concerned, Rose’s reinstatement was a separate issue from whether he belongs in Cooperstown.

In truth, however, it’s not. The people who run the Hall of Fame voted 25 years ago, in response to Rose’s ban, not to allow any such players to be eligible for voting by the Baseball Writers Association of America.

And Jeff Idelson, the president of The Hall, told me on Monday that Manfred’s comments wouldn’t have an impact on that long-standing decision.

“Nothing changes for us,” Idelson said.

That’s my only beef with all of this. I’d like for Rose to get his day in court, so to speak, and let the writers decide if betting on baseball should supersede his obvious on-field worthiness for the Hall of Fame.

I think he’d meet the same fate as Bonds and McGwire, whose transgressions are keeping them out of Cooperstown, and rightly so. Election to the Hall is the highest honor a player can receive, after all, and I, for one, feel justified in withholding that honor as a consequence for crimes against the sport.

Chances are it will never come to that. After all these years it’s clear that Rose either didn’t care or never understood what reconfiguring his life truly meant.

Now he’s out of time.

Baseball – NY Daily News

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *