Thursday, January 29, 2015

New Commissioner Holds Key into Cooperstown for Pete Rose

Rob Manfred officially became the Commissioner of Baseball this week and with that has given several interviews. I have been very impressed with many of the things he has had to say along with the way he has gone about saying them. He seems to be the perfect guy to bring baseball into the next phase.

I am not a fan of all his ideas but I like the fact that he is thinking about ways to improve the game. He seems to understand the importance of the history of the game while also realizing the game does need to adapt as we move forward.

This brings us to the Pete Rose issue. Manfred was asked on the Michael Kay Show if he has any plans to change the process by which the Hall of Fame elects it's members. Manfred explained that the Commissioner of Baseball will now give him a seat at the Board of Directors table of the Baseball Hall of Fame. He said he would use this seat to be very involved and actively engaged into possible changes. Manfred was born and raised in Rome, NY, not far from Cooperstown, and expressed the importance of the Hall of Fame to him.

Manfred was then asked his stance on the reinstatement of Pete Rose so he can be eligible to be on the Hall of Fame ballot. Manfred explained that the Pete Rose issue is one of the few issues he has not been involved with during his time working for MLB. Manfred said he is positive he will get a request from Rose but did not want to comment now until he does more research on the matter.

Given Manfred's progressive way of thinking, I think there is a real shot for Pete Rose to get on the ballot and to eventually get elected. All it takes is a compromise. While I am a huge supporter of Pete Rose, I agree with his lifetime ban from baseball. What I don't agree with is the Baseball Hall of Fame rule that states banned players can not appear on the ballot. It was a rule that was officially put on the books a short time before Rose would become eligible for the Hall of Fame. The timing of the rule makes it seem awful personal.

The Hall of Fame later stated that it was always an implied rule and they just wanted to make it official. That goes contrary to the 1936 Hall of Fame ballot where the banned Shoeless Joe Jackson appeared.

The solution is easy. Manfred can use his new pull on the Board of Directors of the Hall of Fame to allow banned players to appear on the ballot. Rose would then enter the ballot with the same rules and procedures as all first time ballot players. He will have to get 5% to stay on the ballot for ten years or get elected with the 75% vote. It is a way to keep the anti-gambling rule tough by upholding the lifetime ban from the game but separating it from the Hall of Fame vote. It makes no sense to me that  known steroid users are able to be on the ballot but Pete Rose is denied that right.

If I were advising Pete Rose, I would tell him to request this compromise when he meets with Manfred. Pete made mistakes, the biggest was lying for 15 years. He needs to give up on the second chance mantra that he repeats so often. That ship has sailed. It was a rule that he knew about and he broke it. However, the Hall of Fame ballot rules are different. Pete has a right to be on the ballot. Make it happen Pete and make it happen Commissioner.

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