Pete wants it all, and it cost him reinstatement

Posted at 7:48 PM, Dec 14, 2015
and last updated 2015-12-16 15:11:27-05

Pete Rose has always wanted the full loaf -- it's a huge reason why he was able to break Ty Cobb's seemingly insurmountable all-time hit record.

But in the end, it's what cost him reinstatement to baseball.

He wanted to have it both ways -- to continue to live his life the way he wanted, all-out, full of action, including betting on sports (and that includes baseball) -- while having the chutzpah to think Baseball could still accept him back into the family.

In this, Rose has been what he always was as a player: Consistent.

When he first admitted in 2004 that he had bet on baseball as a manager, after 15 years of denial, he did so in a book -- for profit.

Then, when Baseball said that even though there had been no finding that he'd ever bet against his team, that on the days he didn't bet on them it was an indication to gamblers he didn't think the Reds would win and the gamblers could have loaded up on the opponent, that's when Rose responded that he had bet on his team every game, even though there was no evidence he'd ever done that. I can understand how and why a manager might manage a game in April differently if he had money on it, say physically stressing a pitcher instead of protecting him for August. Rose may never have done that, but money can make fools of us all.

And, lastly (although there never really is a "lastly" with Pete), he insisted he'd bet only as a manager, never as a player, as though this were a wide enough line to get him reinstated.

TIMELINE: The life & career of Pete Rose

I was very much in Rose's corner when he broke down in front of family and friends in 2010, on a Pete Rose Night at the Lawrenceburg casino on the 25th anniversary of breaking the all-time hit record. I, and almost every one else there, agreed with former Reds pitcher Tom Browning, who said: "I think we saw a man humbled tonight."

But one thing I believe we all must concede now is that, even if on a given night, Rose might appear humbled -- and even if he believes it on that night -- he can never stay that way.

Because life's too rich, with too much potential action, to just sit on the sidelines.

We loved Rose for that -- the man with the headfirst slide, the extra base, the extra run, the 5-for-5 -- and in the end, we had deluded ourselves thinking he could ever back off.

That's the one area in which I think Rose had it over us. I don't think he ever thought he could back off; more importantly, he never wanted to, and never did.

In the end, he had to be Pete Rose.

So much so that he continued to bet on baseball in Las Vegas, where he lived. It's legal there, but to do so flies directly in the face of the directive from late commissioner Bart Giamatti back in 1989 -- that Rose needed to "reconfigure" his life before he could be reinstated.

I've read some reports that make it appear as though the issue of whether Rose could be considered in the future for election to the Baseball Hall of Fame wasn't foreclosed by Manfred's ruling Monday.

READ IT: Manfred's decision, in his own words

I don't see how that's possible. A person who is on the permanently ineligible list is automatically precluded from Hall of Fame consideration. It's known unofficially as "The Pete Rose Rule," and it was passed in 1992. It would have to be rescinded by the governing board of the Baseball Hall of Fame, and I don't see any way of that happening.

Besides, even if it's rescinded, there is no way a veterans committee can muster the necessary 75 percent of the vote necessary to elect Rose; too many of the living Hall of Famers have said they had obeyed the "no gambling on baseball" rule, and that Rose should have, too. There is a sizeable contingent of Hall of Famers who have said they wouldn't return to the annual Hall of Fame induction ceremony if Rose is elected. The returning 'Famers are a big drawing card for fans that weekend.

It is the stated conviction of the Hall's governing board that, if Rose were to have been reinstated, he would have gone to directly to the veterans committee for consideration, bypassing the Baseball Writers Association of America (BBWAA), even though the BBWAA never had a crack at considering him.

Rose was suspended in 1989 and immediately placed on the permanently ineligible list, and when the governing board ruled in 1992 that permanently ineligible persons couldn't be considered for the Hall, that left Rose in the cold. 1992 was to have been his first year of eligibility a retired player.

Even if Rose did get before the writers, it's unlikely he'd get 75 percent of their votes, either. Straw polls have him getting far less, around 50 percent at best.

But any talk of any of this gets lost in the bigger point.

In the end, he had to be Pete Rose. It's why he wasn't reinstated and why it's unlikely he'll ever be elected to the Hall of Fame.

John Erardi has covered baseball in Cincinnati for 30 years. He is a two-time Associated Press Ohio Sports Writer of the Year and co-author of six books on the Reds, including "Big Red Dynasty" and "Crosley Field."