Let me first state that I've never read through the entire Dowd report and I don't really plan to (I have much better uses for my time). I don't really feel the need to because for me the dividing line is what Pete Rose, the player, did on the field of dreams, not what Pete Rose, the manager, did in the dugout of dreams. And I've never seen one account, of what the Dowd report accused Rose of, list evidence that he did this while he was a player.
Between the Lines
And isn't that what the Hall of Fame is all about, what the player did between the lines? Pete Rose probably had only one of the five tools that most scouts rave about in a player - hitting for average - but he had above average determination and dedication to his craft that it didn't stop him from performing great on the baseball diamond. He has the most hits ever in baseball and is in the top ten in a number of different categories. He put together Hall of Fame numbers in his long career in baseball.
However, right now, he is being kept out of the Hall of Fame because of things he was accused of (never convicted) doing while he was a manager. I don't think that this is right. Pete Rose is one of the greats of all-time in baseball and deserves to be in the Hall of Fame as a player. It is time that baseball separates its thinking about this and allow Pete Rose into the Hall of Fame.
And, frankly, I don't see why the Hall of Fame doesn't do it now anyway. The Hall of Fame Museum, while obviously it owes its existence to Major League Baseball, as far as I know, it is not owned by nor controlled by MLB. If so, it can proceed in any fashion it chooses. Same with the reporters and writers who vote for the Hall of Fame selection. They should go ahead and allow Pete Rose his first ballot induction into baseball's Hall of Fame and get his long overdue accolades for a career well done.
Go To Banishment, Do Not Get Back Into Baseball
However, this does not mean that Pete Rose should automatically be allowed back into baseball in any capacity. There must be some reason why he agreed to his "permanent" ban from baseball, agreement under the table or not. I don't know how solid or not the evidence is that was collected but again, I don't need to know it. I only need to know how Pete Rose reacted to the accusations.
And what he did was basically bend over and invited baseball to very publicly spank him for his alleged bets on baseball. We all know the Pete Rose personna. Would he take something like this lying down if it weren't true, at least to enough of an iota to establish guilt? No, he would have barreled through this like he did poor Ray Fosse in the All-Star game.
Crime and Degree of Punishment
But does his betting mean that he should not be in baseball for the rest of his life? I think that depends on what the crime is. If he did the very un-Pete Rose-like thing and bet against the Reds, then he should be banned forever, put the key in a ball and have Barry Bonds launch it into McCovey Cove.
However, all accounts of the Dowd report that I've seen only says that he bet on the Reds. That is what I would expect Pete Rose to do. He was too competitive and hard-nosed to do otherwise. But then the issue became, what about the games he didn't bet on?
Now most commentary I've seen says that this affects his managerial thinking for the games that he did not bet on. I don't think so. I love my Giants but when they were mediocre in the 1970's and 1980's, I would not have bet on them winning each and every game. I would only bet on the sure things, though the Giants were often perverse back then, playing the good teams well but then playing to the level of the opposition - and below - when playing the bad teams.
I can believe that Rose did the same while managing the Reds. And the Reds were good but not great during his time as manager. So I can see Pete betting on the Reds against the Giants, Braves, and Pirates in 1985 but laying off in games against St. Louis or Los Angeles. Or betting against the Braves and Phillies in his later days as manager and skipping when playing San Francisco or New York. He loves the Reds and has faith in his abilities as a manager and will still try as heck to beat the other team, but really, why chance losing the bet against good teams. That would be a sucker's bet and Pete Rose is no sucker. And that's the Pete Rose that the public knows.
The Call: Safe at Home (That is, House Arrest With Jose Canseco)
I will admit my bias because of the accomplishments that Pete Rose has done in baseball and I will sadly exclude him if it ever came out that he bet while a player or that the bet against his team while a manager and treat it as another fallen player in the annals of baseball. However, there is no evidence of either that I am aware of.
As a consequence, I think:
1) Pete Rose belongs in the Hall of Fame as a player; and
2) Pete Rose does not belong in baseball in any decision making capacity but definitely should be allowed to perform ceremonial and ambassador roles - or even announcing - as long as he is not gambling on baseball.
Gambling is a debilitating mental illness and does not belong in baseball. However, many baseball players can perform ceremonial and ambassador type of duties without getting near the responsibilities of coaching and managing a baseball team or contributing to the general management of the team. Mickey Mantle was an admitted drunk but he could do ambassador duties well as long as he wasn't liquored up.
I think Pete Rose should be allowed to perform such duties, like he did masterfully when there was that MasterCard promotion during the World Series last year. And, obviously, from the reaction that the fans gave Pete during the ceremony last year, the fans have a strong demand to see him back in the game he loved and loves so much. And the game, more than anything, is for the fans or there would be no games.
So I hope Bud Selig would be a pal and allow Pete Rose back into the game on a limited basis, house arrest if you will, with the understanding that the next such transgression will be a lifetime ban. But in the same way that players like Steve Howe and Darryl Strawberry were banned for "life" for their drug problems then allowed back in once their addictions have been "cured". His illness deserves treatment equal to and as just as Howe's and Strawberry's, with compassion for their illnesses and steadfastness and determination to cure their affliction once and for all, but regrettably a ban if they are mere mortals and fail once more.
Martin Lee writes 'A Biased Giant's Fan's View' for SFDugout.com when the mood and muse strikes him. He will believe to his dying days that Bobby Bonds was robbed of being the first 40-40 player. E-mail him at GoGiants_25@yahoo.com and maybe he'll reply back.
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