For 24 years, Pete Rose has waited. Since Major League Baseball handed down his lifetime ban on August 25, 1989 for betting on games, Rose has waited for his moment of redemption. Oddly enough, that moment may come soon, and if so, Rose has players like Alex Rodriguez and Ryan Braun to thank.
In an excellent article in USA Today, Bob Nightengale has suggested that, in the controversy surrounding Biogenesis and MLB’s suspension of over a dozen players for using performance enhancing substances, Rose emerges looking like a “sympathetic figure.”
It seems everywhere you turn baseball fans want players involved in the Biogenesis scandal to be punished, disgraced and even permanently suspended themselves. And then they ask how Rose is still on the outside when Ryan Braun, Alex Rodriguez and others will only be temporarily suspended.
Joe Morgan, the Hall of Fame second baseman who’s also vice chairman of the Hall of Fame, doesn’t want anyone associated with doping to ever set foot in the museum. Yet, Morgan says Rose deserves to be inducted into the Hall of Fame.
“I think if you’re going to allow guys with PEDs on the ballot,” Morgan told USA TODAY Sports, “then we have to allow him to be on the ballot. Let’s face it, he’s been punished for 24 years. I think they have to take a second look at Pete now that this has come out.”
Hank Aaron, the home-run king before Barry Bonds, says he believes steroid users should have an asterisk if they are ever inducted but hopes Rose is one day in the Hall of Fame alongside him.
Rose is even drawing compassion from MLB officials as a result of his comments last week, scolding Rodriguez and Braun and telling them to admit their guilt.
“We have to get these people to understand that if you make mistakes, people will forgive you if you come forward,” Rose told USA TODAY Sports. “Don’t do like I did. Don’t do like Braun did. Don’t do like A-Rod did. I wish I had come forward a long time ago.”
It’s not hard to notice the glaring double standard. Rose bet on games and is the pariah of baseball, but A-Rod and the others used illegal substances to boost their performances and only face suspensions. Former MLB commissioner Fay Vincent blames Rose’s arrogance and lack of contrition for the difference in his treatment, but those suspensions are mere wrist slaps compared to Rose’s life the last 24 years. One can’t blame Rose for his cynicism.
“I made mistakes, I can’t whine about it,” Rose told a Pittsburgh radio station over the weekend. “I’m the one that messed up and I’m paying the consequences. However, if I am given a second chance, I won’t need a third chance.
“And to be honest with you, I picked the wrong vice. I should have picked alcohol. I should have picked drugs or I should have picked up beating up my wife or girlfriend because if you do those three, you get a second chance.”
Commissioner Bud Selig and the owners of each team are currently meeting this week in Cooperstown, and I wonder if Pete Rose will be a topic of conversation. He belongs in the Hall of Fame, and he deserves better treatment than he has received the last quarter century. I believe Rose’s moment of redemption will come one day. I only hope he’ll live to see it.