FORT MYERS, Fla. — What I’ve liked about Rob Manfred’s reign as baseball commissioner is that he seems to have an open mind about everything, including studying Pete Rose’s recent application for reinstatement to baseball.
I’ve said before that reinstatement should be granted. Rose has served 25 years out of baseball as a result of former commissioner Bart Giamatti’s decision after the very thorough Dowd Report left no doubt that he gambled on baseball.
I never said the all-time hits leader should get into the Hall of Fame, but I’ve always thought it should be up to either the BBWAA or the Veterans Committee to decide his fate. Vote on him like we do the steroid guys.
On Monday, Manfred said in Glendale, Ariz., that he will consider Rose’s request “on its merits.”
“I want to make sure I understand all of the details of the Dowd Report and commissioner Giamatti’s decision and the agreement that was ultimately reached,” Manfred said after his visit to the Dodgers camp. “I want to hear what Pete has to say, and I’ll make a decision once I’ve done that.”
Rose, who stroked an amazing 4,256 hits, is now 73 years old and yes, for years he was defiant about gambling on baseball. He finally admitted to it. Rose would have been eligible for the 1992 class, but the Hall of Fame banned Rose after accusations of his gambling surfaced. He became ineligible as of August 24, 1989.
“Honestly, I don’t think people should read any disposition into what I’m saying about this. I see it as a really simple thing. He’s made a request,” Manfred said. “Part of my obligations under the major league constitution is to deal with those requests, and I’ll deal with it.”
If we are a forgiving nation, is 25 years not enough punishment? Rose finally seems sincere. With the All-Star game coming up in Cincinnati, what a major moment for Major League Baseball if Rose is back in its good graces.
Baseball needs it.
He’s done the time.
He has to meet with Manfred and apologize for what he did. He needs to devote the rest of his life to counseling players on doing the right thing. And the one thing that also needs to be emphasized is that gambling is a disease, an addiction in its own right. It was one that led him to a lot of bad decisions. But the all-time hits leader was a great player. He did a lot of great things on the baseball field, including being a role model for thousands for the signature hustle that earned him the nickname Charlie Hustle.
Rose played the game on the field the right way. He had that energy about him for most of his career. Nobody played the game harder. Ask Ray Fosse about the home plate collision that derailed his career. Rose would go through a brick wall to help his team win.
That’s the good part.
And after 25 years of dwelling on the bad stuff, maybe it’s time to say, “Welcome back, Charlie Hustle.”
Follow Nick Cafardo on Twitter at @nickcafardo.