Swinging Strike Three For Charlie Hustler

Yes, I would rather be thinking aloud about such things as Jeff Samardzija's slightly ridiculous contract. (Shades of Bud Black.) About whether John Lackey's and (especially) Jason Heyward's signings with the Cubs really do make them a 2016 World Series entrant. (Berra's Law still applies, as the 2015 Nationals can tell you.) How much financial flexibility Michael Cuddyer's retirement leaves the Mets. (Some, but maybe not quite enough to think about re-signing Yoenis Cespedes.) Or Johnny Cueto signing with the Giants. Among other things.

But commissioner Rob Manfred has ruled that Pete Rose isn't going to be reinstated to baseball on his watch, either. Manfred on 14 November made official what The New York Times reported about the ban being kept in place. He might have taken what the Times called "a quick, and genuine interest in Mr. Rose's case" when he succeeded Bud Selig formally last January, but that didn't necessarily mean Rose was going to be removed from purgatory.

It ended with a telephone call to Rose from Manfred, and with a somewhat lengthy but stone cold sober statement in which the commissioner said in essence that Rose has not only failed to glean the complete depth of why he's banished but has failed to "present credible evidence of a reconfigured life."

Rose petitioned Manfred last March to consider his reinstatement, and Manfred said then he wanted to hear what Rose would have to say, refusing to decide on reinstatement until hearing it, after he first made certain of the Dowd Report's details and the decision then-commissioner A. Bartlett Giamatti made. Well, Manfred has heard what Rose now has to say, and he decided accordingly. As if it would have been a terrible shock once Manfred let it be known he wouldn't reinstate Shoeless Joe Jackson, either.

Manfred also wrote of Charlie Hustler's failure to present "a rigorous, self-aware and sustained program of avoidance by him of all the circumstances that led to his permanent ineligibility in 1989." Meaning Rose bets on baseball even now. He might be entitled to do so legally, but it isn't exactly the wise thing to do, when trying to convince the chief executive officer of the game that banished him that he gets why baseball has formal rules against its personnel gambling.

Rose's noticeably shrinking community of defenders probably won't let Manfred's decision be the absolute end of things. There will remain those, whether they support or oppose Rose's banishment, who think it's entirely irrelevant to whether Rose belongs in the Hall of Fame. Never mind that the Hall has a rule saying those on baseball's permanently ineligible list are likewise ineligible to stand for election to the Hall. And there will also remain those who think it's entirely fatuous to think that a man banned from baseball for breaking one of its cardinal rules is worthy of Hall enshrinement.

In June, ESPN's Outside the Lines uncovered a smoking gun that blasted Rose's final line of defense away, a notebook once belonging to a man through whom Rose bet with mob-connected bookmakers, showing Rose bet on baseball extensively, including on his own team, during the final year he was a player-manager. The program revealed that in April 1986 Rose bet twenty-one times on the Reds one or another way, including a few games in which Rose might have played.

"During our meeting," says Manfred's statement, "Mr. Rose told me that he has continued to bet on horse racing and on professional sports, including baseball. Those bets may have been permitted by law in the jurisdictions in which they were placed, but this fact does not mean that the bets would be permissible if made by a player or manager subject to Rule 21."

And, in this footnote to that section, Manfred reveals just how badly Rose swung on and missed. "Even more troubling, in our interview, Rose initially denied betting on baseball currently and only later in the interview did he 'clarify' his response to admit such betting."

What about the Hall of Fame? Manfred had something to say about that, too: "The issue of whether Mr. Rose should be eligible for Hall of Fame election under the bylaws of that organization presents an entirely different policy determination that is focused on a range of considerations distinct from the more narrow question before me — i.e., whether I believe that Mr. Rose's reinstatement would be consonant with the policy rationale underlying Rule 21. Thus, any debate over Mr. Rose's eligibility for the Hall of Fame is one that must take place in a different forum."

The Hall of Fame settled the question in 1991, when they enacted the aforesaid rule. There's no known hint that the Hall is even thinking about modifying that settlement. Manfred's denial makes for a third time a Rose reinstatement petition has failed. Does a man like Rose, whose comprehension of the rules depends on what your definition of the rules is, understand what happens when you swing with two strikes and miss?

Leave a Comment

Featured Site