Baseball won’t have another commissioner for a long time and Pete Rose is 74 so that leads to one last potential compromise between the game and its most popular pariah.
Rob Manfred, who on Monday announced that Rose’s ban from official baseball activities and affiliations must stand, should explain that the Hit King will absolutely be eligible for induction to the Hall of Fame posthumously because the ban would no longer be relevant.
Along with that, the commissioner should say that he supports the enshrinement under those conditions, recognizing that it does not violate the tone of the “permanent” ban for gambling on games involving a player or manager’s own team. Can’t get much more permanent than passing on.
An announcement like that wouldn’t provide much cause for celebration. It’s pretty grim, to tell the truth, but it’s likely all that Rose is going to get.
He would make full use of it, too.
Signing “Future Hall of Famer” on all those baseballs he autographs, and at a higher price.
Wearing a cap with Hall of Famer* stitched on it, treating the obvious asterisk like a wink.
Doing all the TV interview shows and talking about what it means to know his space at Cooperstown is reserved, allowing coming generations of fans to celebrate his career in full and not in part.
There’s no point in hoping for more. Manfred has done his review of the ancient case against Rose, who after years of bold denials finally admitted to the crime of crimes in baseball. This commissioner won’t be doing another review. Manfred won’t change his mind that Rose’s continued involvement in betting on baseball through legal means is a sign that the old hustler is addicted to the action and can’t be trusted to stop, even as he runs his autographing empire from Las Vegas’ casino row.
All those who defend Rose, who rail against baseball’s hypocrisy in this and other matters, understand this. They just can’t change it.
Manfred is the only one who could. The only ounce of hope he provided was an explanation that the Hall of Fame and Major League Baseball are separate organizations and that Cooperstown’s rules of eligibility are not tied to baseball’s ban rules in this matter unless the Hall wants them to be.
I, for one, have said all I can think of to say about this through the years. Rose said he made one big mistake but it was many mistakes, and many lies to cover those mistakes. His playing career was epic, his managerial behavior appalling and his public life a strange mix of asking for mercy while giving no ground.
It’s a shame that Pete and the game he made so exciting can’t be joined again, but that’s not happening now.
If there is at least certainty that it will happen later, that would be an emotional release of some sort for Rose and all those who love him.
Not a home run, but an intentional base on balls.
Rose had a way of making those memorable, too, by hustling down to first, and memories are all we’re really talking about here anyway.