Pete Rose says he hopes when new baseball commissioner Rob Manfred takes over, he’ll give him a second chance.
The player banned for life for betting on games wants reinstatement. I don’t blame him. The ban has been in force for 25 years.
But more important than that, sports have given second chances to some pretty messed up characters: Steve Howe, Ray Lewis, Darryl Strawberry, Doc Gooden, Jason Kidd and a host of baseball steroid cheats.
Yes, Rose compromised the integrity of the game. But so did the aforementioned athletes, in one way or another.
Asked by ESPN’s Jeremy Schapp, in an interview to be aired, what he would say to the new commissioner, Rose said, “I wish some way in your heart you’d find an opportunity to give me a chance, a second chance, because if you don’t, I’m still going to sell baseball like no one else you have working in the game. That’s just the way I am; that’s my passion for the game. Whatever you do, I understand, I accept, because you’re the boss. And if that’s not enough (Rose grinned), I’ll arm-wrestle you right now.”
Rose bet on games and paid a high price. For a long time he has spoken frankly about his problems. In a column on Rose a decade ago, I wrote, “When it comes to admitting questionable (baseball) characters, the barn door was opened long ago.”
It’s true that Rose cheated the game by compromising its integrity and then lying about it. But as far as I can tell, he didn’t cheat anyone by using PED’s. What you saw was all Charlie Hustle.
The return of Rose to baseball, with a new commissioner, would give the game a boost it could surely use. It would also give back one of the game’s true advocates.