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The Pete Rose Debate

Recently, former Phillies legend Pete Rose was quoted as saying that he’d love to talk to the new MLB commissioner, Rob Manfred, about his lifetime ban from baseball. Besides being unable to take part in most official MLB events, the doors to the Baseball Hall of Fame in Cooperstown are locked for the All-Time hit leader. It is this point, above all, on which the debate to allow Pete back into baseball pivots.

The man known as Charlie Hustle said, “I’ll always have hope. That’s all I’ve got. I just want to be on that writer’s ballot. Let the writers decide. If they want me in, I’m in. If they don’t feel I should be in, I can live with it.” This is an interesting challenge to the writers especially in light of the recent steroid debate in which many writers have ignored the accomplishments of PED-tainted players.

To his credit, the new commissioner has taken it upon himself to settle this issue once and for all. Manfred told ESPN, “There will come a point where I will have to decide that issue [and] I fully intend to decide it.”  In addition to the performance enhancing drugs issue, this reconsideration comes within the context of a growing push to legalize sports gambling (which has already occurred to an extent in New Jersey).

As we all know, Pete Rose bet on baseball while he was managing the Cincinnati Reds.  There’s no denying that.  Yet the process by which he was banned from baseball was akin to a Greek tragedy – wrought with institutional failures similar to what we’ve seen more recently with the Penn State scandal and the NFL’s wavering domestic abuse policy.  Which means now, some people see Pete as a victim himself.  He is absolutely adored by many Phillies fans of the Baby Boomer generation. His play on the field reminds current fans of the grittiness they’ve come to appreciate from players like Chase Utley. His catch in the 1980 World Series and his 1970 All-Star Game game-winning run exemplify this.

Yet with all these contextual issues swirling around, the question for fans is simple – should Pete Rose be in the baseball Hall of Fame?

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