You know, we could just make Hank Aaron our baseball commissioner, eliminate the middle man and save ourselves a lot of unnecessary pain and suffering. For someone who’s been so reticent for the past few … well, his entire life, Aaron sure is surprising us this week with his high profile. A day after he came out squarely against steroid “cheaters” getting into the Hall of Fame, now he’s lobbying commissioner Bud Selig to reinstate Pete Rose.
And Aaron isn’t just speaking for himself. Two of his fellow members of the Hall of Fame Board of Directors, Joe (Silver Tongue) Morgan and Frank Robinson, have also come out in favor of lifting Rose’s lifetime ban. But neither, I would imagine, carry anywhere near Aaron’s weight with Selig.
The NEW YORK DAILY NEWS reports that Selig is seriously considering the idea. Rose was in Cooperstown over the weekend, but couldn’t attend the Hall of Fame ceremony — a bit of official baseball segregation that is becoming a little more absurd as each year passes. At this point we all know what Rose did; he had a gambling problem, and probably still does. He bet on baseball, often during games. If text messaging had been invented then, he probably would have been placing bets while walking to the mound for a pitching change. He regrets it, and if asked for an official mea culpa by Selig in order to be reinstated, I’m sure he’d provide it (um, I think).
If the International Astronomical Union can reinstate Pluto to planet status, surely we can do the same for Pete Rose.
The whole thing just seems so innocent and irrelevant when surveying today’s baseball cheating landscape. No one is quite sure at this point what good is being accomplished by keeping Rose out of the game; he could become the sport’s anti-gambling poster boy, ambassador of don’t-screw-up-like-I-did,-kids. And most of all he could provide Selig with a serious public relations boost at a time when the embattled commissioner most surely needs it. Which I’ll bet is the furthest thing from Selig’s mind.*
Selig said this weekend that Rose’s case still is under review.
Said another Hall of Famer familiar with the situation: “I think a lot of the guys feel that it’s been 20 years now for Pete, and would lean toward leniency and time served. If he had admitted it in the first place and apologized way back then, he’d probably be in the Hall by now.”
Aaron told USA TODAY that Rose has done his time, and should be welcomed back in baseball’s good graces.
“I would certainly like to see him in,” Aaron said. “He belongs in, really. His career is one that he needs to be right here in the middle of all of this.”
“The Pete Rose thing is different than steroids. If I had been Pete, I think I would have asked for forgiveness many, many years ago.”
Morgan then added an anecdote about how he and Rose helped the French win the Vietnam War.
* = May be sarcasm.