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Opinion: The Forgiveness of Pete Rose

The has come to let it go

Pete Rose Hall of Fame Debate Continues

On Saturday, the Cincinnati Reds unveiled a statue of Pete Rose, his hair flailing straight back from hustle, sliding into home plate. In 2010, they installed a Pete Rose exhibit into the Reds Hall of Fame.

Last year, they made him a member of the Reds Hall of Fame and retired his #14 jersey. If Westminster Abbey was in Cincinnati, they’d give him a spot between Chaucer and the guy who put chili and spaghetti together for the first time.

Despite all of this, Rob Manfred and Major League Baseball has, again, declined Rose’s request for consideration for the Hall of Fame. That’s right, the all-time hits leader in baseball history, the guy who brought two of the five World Series pennants to Cincy, the guy who dares to wear a straight-brim cap at age 76, Charlie Hustle Pete Rose Hall of Fame himself, can’t even be considered for the Hall of Fame.

The ban makes sense, it really does. Rose’s gambling scandal was Biogenesis before steroids became the big deal that they are. That Rose bet on baseball as a player and manager is fact, whether or not he bet against his own team is up in the air. Even if he did bet against the Reds, that same team has more than forgiven him, they’ve enshrined him.

Rose’s repeated applications for reinstatement are a sign that he, who openly accepted the ban, is ready to move on. If the Reds have forgiven and accepted, if Rose has shown his penitence, what is Major League Baseball Waiting for?

Rose is currently the only eligible member of the 3,000 hit club not in the Hall of Fame. The other members not admitted, eligible or not, presents perhaps the rationale for Major League Baseball’s reluctance to allow his admittance. Derek Jeter and Ichiro Suzuki will be first-ballot Hall of Famers, there’s little doubt of that. The issue lies in two names: Alex Rodriguez and Rafael Palmeiro.

The steroid scandal rocked baseball and changed the perception of excellence within the sport. Palmeiro’s chance at the Hall has already come and gone, and Rodriguez will be eligible in 2020. If current sentiments remain, Rodriguez may not be voted in. If Palmeiro, Rodriguez, and other steroid users aren’t admitted, could Rose be? What is the greater sin, betting or steroid use?

It’s a difficult question to answer no doubt, but perhaps one Major League Baseball has already been answering. Despite this, Manfred and the MLB should follow Cincinnati’s lead. Forgive the penitent, award excellence. Give Pete Rose his day.

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