Tuesday, December 15, 2015

Pete Rose's ban and the Hall of Fame

Here's the thing: Pete Rose is old. I don't know why that surprises me -- the man won his second batting title the year I became a fan back in 1969 -- but it does. Somehow, my sense of time evaporates with him, and he is forever slamming into Ray Fosse in the All-Star Game or dribbling the baseball on the artificial turf at the end of an inning.

But he's 74, turns 75 in April. His time as a potential manager or general manager has passed.

Which makes Monday's announcement by Commissioner Rob Manfred continuing Rose's lifetime ban essentially irrelevant. Even had Manfred lifted the ban -- and given Rose's continuing wagering on baseball, that was not going to happen -- I cannot imagine a team, even the Reds, giving Rose a significant job in baseball operations. Not at his age. Not as out-of-touch with today's game as he proved himself to be in his postseason studio commentary in October. The Pete Rose of today brings nothing that will help a franchise win now or in the future.

Ah, you say, but that's not the point. The point is the Hall of Fame. Rose's ban means he's barred from induction, and he's the career leader in hits. 

Trump here echoes a common misunderstanding. (There are a lot of things the Donald doesn't understand, or perhaps doesn't care to reveal that he understands, and this is one of them.) Major League Baseball and the Hall of Fame are different entities. They're intertwined, certainly -- Manfred is a member of the Hall's board of directors -- and the Hall likes to have MLB happy with it. but it is not the commissioner barring Rose from the Hall. It;s the Hall of Fame's decision.

Indeed, Manfred's ruling contains a paragraph explicitly separating the two issues. His ruling is that Rose is too likely to continue to violate Rule 21 -- the ban on gambling on baseball -- to allow him to play an active role with any team. That's a separate issue from the Hall of Fame.

Now, what Manfred tells his fellow board members in private may be different, but Monday's ruling gives the Hall a signal that he won't complain if it decides to revise the rule barring those banned from baseball from induction,

But there are other stakeholders in the institution -- I think here specifically of those already in the Hall -- who might object. My guess is that

a) Manfred isn't going to push the Hall to let Rose in and
b) the Hall is going to remain reluctant to honor a man baseball cannot trust.


  1. I am fine with Rose out of baseball and blocked from the HOF.

    There is a price to pay for breaking rules. Some are worse than others. If you bet on your own games and decide to help the opponent so yiy can civer your bet there is no longer a sporting event.