By Steve Kallas
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Last week, Major League Baseball Commissioner Rob Manfred stated that, with respect to a decision on Pete Rose’s application for reinstatement, “The end of the year is my deadline.”
He went on to say, “I’m not telling you that this is coming December 30 or whatever. It will be done by the end of the year. Let me be clear about that.”
A VERY EASY DECISION, IF MANFRED LISTENS TO BART GIAMATTI
Virtually everybody knows that Bart Giamatti was the commissioner of baseball when Rose agreed to a lifetime ban in 1989. Very few people know that at the time of that ban, Rose was eligible to receive votes for the Hall of Fame. In fact, few people know that Shoeless Joe Jackson, who was banned for life for fixing the 1919 World Series, actually received some Hall of Fame votes over the years. He was still eligible.
Everybody also knows that Giamatti died of a heart attack just days after announcing Rose’s lifetime ban.
Today, more and more people are understanding that, according to Giamatti himself, Rose should have been considered for the Hall of Fame once he became eligible in 1991.
Giamatti was asked at the press conference announcing Rose’s lifetime ban whether that ban would have any effect on Rose’s ability to get into the Hall of Fame.
When asked the question, as discussed in Kostya Kennedy’s recent book, “Pete Rose: An American Dilemma,” Giamatti clearly believed that one had nothing to do with the other.
Addressing the baseball writers at the press conference Giamatti said, “You will decide whether he belongs in the Hall of Fame.”
That should have ended the inability for Rose to be considered for the Hall of Fame.
INSTEAD, A MAGICAL MYSTERY TOUR
Instead, Fay Vincent — Giamatti’s friend and No. 2 man in baseball — became the commissioner. At a minimum, he had some input in the absurd meeting in 1991 when baseball decided to not allow anyone on the permanently banned list to be eligible for the Hall of Fame. Before the institution of this “Pete Rose” rule, anyone on the banned list — like Shoeless Joe Jackson — was eligible to be inducted into the Hall of Fame.
For an understanding of the disgrace that led to this permanent Hall of Fame eligibility ban, see pages 228-31 of Kennedy’s book. It’s a permanent black mark on the Hall of Fame, unless it’s fixed by Manfred.
Vincent was vehement about keeping Rose out, always saying that Giamatti had said that Rose had to “reconfigure his life” before he could be reinstated. But that had nothing to do with Rose’s possible induction into the Hall of Fame; rather, it had to do with Rose’s ability to come back and be employed by a team in some capacity.
FROM VINCENT TO SELIG TO MANFRED
Since 1991, Rose has been denied — first by Vincent and then by Bud Selig. Selig stated for years that Rose had applied, but he just didn’t get around to it. He never got around to it despite being commissioner for 22 years. You can’t make this stuff up.
Now, with Manfred the new commissioner, the time is ripe (and right) to right a terrible wrong and reinstate what Giamatti said in 1989. Let the writers decide.
This isn’t about what Vincent thought or thinks, or what Selig thought or thinks — or, even to a lesser degree, what Manfred thinks about the issue. It should be all about what Giamatti thought said, plain as day. That is, it’s up to the writers to decide whether Rose should be in the Hall of Fame.
WHAT ABOUT SPORTS GAMBLING TODAY?
While it’s interesting to see that Major League Baseball is invested in DraftKings, and Commissioner Manfred has come out and said that daily fantasy sports is not gambling, none of this should have any bearing on his Rose decision. He may be gun-shy, now, to allow Rose to be considered for the Hall of Fame because he’s taking a lot of heat on his DraftKings position.
But anyone with even half a brain knows that legal sports gambling is coming, and that includes daily fantasy. Government regulation will come. All the pro sports will invest and/or have their hands out for their share, and states and local municipalities will see it as a panacea for incredible debt and financial issues that they all have on their books now.
But with respect to Rose, Manfred should stay above the fray and simply announce that, after reviewing what Giamatti said about Rose and the Hall of Fame back in 1989, he is simply following the guidance of the former commissioner.
He should allow Rose to be considered for the Hall of Fame. If he doesn’t want Rose to work in baseball, he can still separate the two.
Maybe someone with a brain and some power can show this article to the commissioner. It’s really very simple. This should be the year that Giamatti’s thoughts are respected.