Big League Stew recently published a long and free-wheeling interview with Pete Rose. I don't know that Rose said anything he hasn't said before and he still comes across as an arrested adolescent with little or no self-awareness. But hey, maybe I'm projecting.
Anyway, Mike Silva uses the interview as a jump-off point for an impassioned plea ...
If Bud Selig is true to his word and retires at the end of 2012, he should end his commissionership with the reinstatement of Pete Rose. It would be a fitting final chapter to a period where the game transformed for the better. It would also dispel the label that he’s a cowardly commissioner that rules by consensus and has yet to make a controversial decision, even if it were for the better. Remember, steroid testing was more a result of political pressure than Selig’s courage and vision. Personally, I would gain a ton of respect for a man whom I believe has been in the right place at the right time in the games history. A lot of his success has been due to him standing on an oil field. Dealing with the Pete Rose issue might be his toughest and most controversial decision yet.
Controversial according to ... whom, exactly?
Yes, some of the writers would scream bloody murder if Peter Edward Rose were reinstated. But the huge majority of fans would stand solidly behind Selig. What's been controversial has been not reinstating Rose.
If Commissioner Selig wants to do the popular thing, of course he'll reinstate Pete Rose. But if he wants to do the right thing ... well, that's a little trickier.
It's trickier to figure out what the right thing is, and it's trickier to actually get that done.
It's my considered opinion that Selig, even if he could wave a wand and reinstate Rose, should not do that. Pete Rose bet on baseball. The rules are exceptionally clear: If you bet on baseball, you're permanently suspended. That's on a sign in every locker room in every Major League Baseball stadium. And it's there because early in the last century, gambling threatened the sport. There absolutely should be a serious penalty for betting on baseball, even if you're betting on your own team.
I believe the penalty might be too severe, though. Or rather, more severe than it needs to be.
What's reasonable? How about five years for betting on your own team, 20 for betting against your team? Wouldn't those serve as strong deterrants?
Pete Rose has now been suspended for more than 22 years. My question is simple: Is his continuing banishment really going to serve some Greater Good? By even the smallest iota?
My guess is that it will not. My guess is that all Rose's banishment is doing now is making Rose look bigger and Major League Baseball look smaller. Which is good for whom, exactly?
Commissioner Selig should not simply reinstate Pete Rose. He should revise the penalties for betting on baseball, and then Rose out of the cage with time served. And then we can move along to something else. Something more interesting.