We’re getting close to this year’s Cooperstown festivities, when the media’s
attention turns to grainy footage of the newly enshrined and the current
travails of Peter Edward Rose.
And what of Pete these days?
Rose has been trying to build public support for his enshrinement nearly
non-stop for more than a decade. Well, perhaps not non-stop. He does it in
between degrading stints on cable shopping networks and desperate talk show
appearances, not unlike yours truly.
People have been arguing whether Rose should get into the Hall of Fame for
some time. Rose himself, demonstrating either remarkable gall or stunning
stupidity, draws the parallel between his behavior and that of drug addicts
such as Steve Howe and Darryl Strawberry, pointing out how
many chances that they have received. "I’m not out there taking
drugs," states a legitimately confused Rose.
Supporters of Rose’s enshrinement parrot this argument, and talk about
Rose’s amazing longevity, and the fact that he has more hits than anyone
else in the history of baseball. Opponents of Rose’s being honored, like
myself, point out that baseball basically only has one rule. That Rule is
Rule 21: Don’t gamble on games. Rose apparently broke that rule, and
therefore, his ban for life from MLB is completely just.
Rose’s banning from MLB is a slightly different issue from his being banned
from the Hall of Fame. When Rose entered into the agreement that led to his
banishment from baseball, there was no rule about his also being ineligible
for Cooperstown. The Hall of Fame governance added that little kicker after
Rose entered into the agreement with Bart Giamatti, and in that light, it is
possible that Rose may not have enjoined the agreement with MLB had he known
that he would subsequently have been barred from the Hall. Which sucks if
I don’t want to get into details of the Dowd Report here. I would encourage
everyone to actually read the Dowd Report and the agreement between Giamatti
and Rose, both of which are available in .pdf format at
http://www.dowdreport.com. I do want
to spend a little time on the agreement
itself, one which Rose signed after careful and lengthy consideration with
legal counsel. Rose himself agrees to the lifetime ban under Rule 21, in
return for the cessation of the investigation into his gambling, and MLB not
actually reaching a finding that he bet on baseball games.
And therein lies his potential salvation.
If Rose is, in fact, innocent, and didn’t bet on baseball games, he can
publicly withdraw his agreement to these terms. It may or may not have legal
validity, but he can certainly bring pressure to bear on Bud Selig’s office
to complete the investigation into his conduct. If Rose has exculpatory
evidence, or if the Office of the Commissioner cannot clearly demonstrate
that he bet on baseball, Rose can enter the Hall of Fame with his head held
Of course, this won’t happen. The agreement that Rose signed was so
incredibly brutal that the only reason he could possibly have signed it
would be if he was as guilty as sin. Consider item 4 from the agreement that
Rose entered into on the advice of his own attorneys:
Peter Edward Rose acknowledges that the Commissioner has a factual basis to
impose the penalty provided herein, and hereby accepts the penalty imposed
on him by the Commissioner, and agrees not to challenge that penalty in
court or otherwise. He also agrees he will not institute any legal
proceedings against the Commissioner or any of his representatives, either
Major League, or any Major League club.
That is not the sort of statement you sign if you’re innocent, gang.
Pete Rose is one of the biggest embarrassments in history, not only that of
baseball, but of the United States. His blatant and pervasive dishonesty,
coupled with his deplorable and pathetic attempts to paint himself as a
victim, are enough for his exclusion from the Hall even without the problem
of gambling on baseball. Rose played the media like a lute during his time
as a player, controlling his public image with exceptional zeal and care.
His behavior after his retirement as a player is so miserable as to actually
cause me to pity him.
Rose is an inveterate liar and despicable character who has already befouled
the game of baseball more than any thousand drug addicts ever could. The
idea that he would ever enter the Hall of Fame is nothing short of
despairing. He’s in baseball exile, where he belongs, and the only way he
can get out of it is to agree to a complete disclosure of the truth
regarding his behavior–something to which he will never agree. He’s tried
everything he can think of short of this disclosure to slink into
Cooperstown, and he’s failed.
God willing, he will continue to fail. Short of simply going away, that’s
all baseball can really hope for.
Gary Huckabay is an author of Baseball Prospectus. You can contact him by clicking here.