I can’t believe I’m saying this. I never thought I would see the day. But here it is: I agree with President Trump. There, I said it. I agree with Trump that Pete Rose should be reinstated to baseball.
Rose and his attorneys filed for reinstatement on Feb. 5 after having been denied reinstatement in 2015. The debate around Rose has been happening since he was deemed permanently ineligible in 1989 after being investigated for betting on baseball.
I understand the ban; betting in baseball, especially on the team you play for (and later manage), is one of the worst things you can do. Honestly, it’s sacrilegious. Besides being a betrayal of trust, his decision to bet on his team could potentially influence his playing and coaching, and therefore the season and careers of Reds players, in both negative and positive ways.
But why is what he did any worse than what other baseball players have done over the years?
The Astros came under fire for sign stealing starting around 2017, having been exposed just this past year. What was their punishment? A $5 million fine and a one-year suspension for the Astros’ manager and general manager. In comparison, Rose has been banned for 30 years and would continue to be banned for the rest of his life.
Countless players have also been suspended for steroid or performance enhancing drug (PED) use in the MLB. Alex Rodriguez, one of the most well-known names on that list, was only suspended for one season in 2014 for his PED use. Players can get caught for use up to four times before permanent ineligibility. People who bet on a game they have no connection to (for example, if Rose bet on the outcome of a Mets vs. Indians game) may receive the same punishment as Rodriguez. That, to me, is outrageous.
Both sign stealing and use of PEDs can affect the outcome of the game or season, just like Rose’s betting. It’s crazy that someone pumping drugs into their body or outright cheating are considered lesser evils than betting in baseball. But maybe my values just differ greatly from the MLB executives.
Again, I completely understand why the ban happened, but I don’t believe that the punishment fit the crime. What he did was wrong, but is it truly worse than the actions of other players and management?
Rose is a one of a kind player. As of today, he holds a number of MLB records including outs, at-bats, hits, singles and games played. He was part of the legendary Big Red Machine and won both Golden Gloves and World Series titles, among other awards. While he shouldn’t be reinstated just because he was a good player, it’s important to keep in mind just how impressive of a player Rose was.
I also believe he truly regrets his actions. Putting myself in his shoes, I’d certainly regret it. Baseball was his life, and I believe that he has a lot of remorse, which is also something he must prove in order to be reinstated.
The main reason why reinstatement is so important, even though Rose is 78 and can no longer play, is the Hall of Fame. Any player deemed ineligible is also no longer able to join the ranks of the Hall, per a 1991 decision. Considering this, I suggest a compromise.
If Rose doesn’t deserve reinstatement, he deserves recognition for his outstanding accomplishments as a player. He should, at the very least, be considered for the Hall. His time with the Reds speaks for itself.
Growing up in Cincinnati, when I heard the name Pete Rose, I thought of a great player who dominated the league alongside other awesome players like Johnny Bench, Joe Morgan and Tony Pérez. He should be allowed to join his Big Red Machine counterparts in the Hall of Fame.
Rose is a great player and the punishment is unfitting of the crime. Even if you don’t believe he should be reinstated, he deserves recognition for his outstanding achievements, ones that thousands of players have been unable to top in over 30 years.
He’s a legend, and while his actions were less than honorable, he changed the way baseball is played. Pete Rose is a Cincinnati legend who deserves to be remembered as such.