Each day I am more impressed with Rob Manfred. The latest is his willingness to join Adam Silver in support for legalizing sports gambling. This news has sparked fans to suggest that the ban on Pete Rose should now be lifted. Not so fast. Legalizing sports betting should only make the rules more strict when it comes to participants gambling on games, Legalizing sports betting is to gain control of an underground activity and regulating it. What Pete Rose and Shoeless Joe Jackson did can destroy the integrity of the game. It is not a hypocrisy issue either. It is an integrity issue. MLB does not have a problem with gambling, they have a problem with the integrity of the game being compromised by a participant gambling on the outcome. If sports gambling is legalized, all professional leagues need to be strict and enforce that anyone caught gambling on their own games is banned for life. It is the only way it will work.
Manfred has acknowledged that Rose's attorney has contacted him and Manfred has said publicly he is open to discussing the issue with Rose. What is the solution? I wrote about this recently, the best solution is to keep the ban on Pete Rose while easing up on some of the restrictions. I think it is ridiculous that he is not allowed to attend games and be an ambassador for the sport. I have no issue if he is allowed to be employed by a team as a roving instructor. The ban should be about making sure he is not eligible to manage or coach in professional baseball. Rose is now 73 years old, I think his managing days are over. That issue isn't as relevant now as it was 25 years ago.
The other part of the issue is the Hall of Fame. Manfred needs to use his position on the Board of Directors of the Hall of Fame to ensure that all players, banned or not, get to have their name on the HOF ballot. This is the real travesty. It was a rule created for Pete Rose. Shoeless Joe Jackson appeared on the first HOF ballot in 1936, 16 years after he was banned. Let Rose on the ballot for 2015. 75% of the vote gets him elected, 5%-74% gets him on the ballot for another year. It is the right thing to do and Manfred is the guy who can do it.