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August 24, 2009

Let's bring Rose back, under some conditions

***As I was looking up some stories on the anniversary of the Pete Rose banishment, I was drawn to something that was in the Rockford Register Star...the very same paper that published my drivel close to 20 years ago!
Here it is, courtesy of its writer Tony Garcia. ***

It is with a profound, sincere and slightly cholesterol-elevated heart that I offer my apologies to the late John Lennon and still-kicking Paul McCartney for this lil’ ditty:

It was twenty years ago today/Charlie Hustle fought for his final day/Sheriff Bart told him to sit a while/For deadbeat bets in his massive file/So may I introduce to you/The act you’ve known for all these years/Charlie Hustle’s Permanent Baseball Ban!

It’s 20 years since Pete Rose accepted his lifetime ban from baseball. Baseball’s all-time hits leader and, at the time, Cincinnati Reds manager, gave up his attempts through the court system to stop Commissioner
A. Bartlett Giamatti from implementing his punishment.

Much has happened since, none of which included a parade celebrating a World Championship for Chicago’s North Side ballclub … not that I’m bitter. The Reds have gone through 11 managers, two stadiums, one World Series title, 455,000 Skyline chili dogs and Corey Patterson.

Rose has had a six-month prison sentence, three appearances at WrestleMania, two autobiographies (I did not bet on baseball; wait, yes I did) and one really, really bad ESPN movie. He’s also had dedicated fans who make health-care town halls look like Osmond family dinners.

When I’ve had my long and colorful debates with the pro-Rose crowd, it usually boils down to: a.) “How come the players using steroids haven’t been banned?”; b.) “He never bet against the Reds!”; and c.) “How can you keep the career hits leader out of the Hall”?

My comeback is, has and always will be, “What part of ‘Don’t bet on baseball’ didn’t he understand?”

But I’m not here to continue Rose’s pain. Rather, I would like to see his reinstatement into pro baseball.

Officially, he’s been kept out because, by definition, it’s a lifetime ban. Unofficially, Rose has been kept out because he caused Giamatti’s fatal heart attack eight days after the suspension was meted out. (Although I’m willing to guess Bart’s fondness for food and chain-smoking contributed.)

But I always said he should be banned until he admitted betting on baseball. He did in 2004. So, bring him back, on one condition: Make him manager of the Washington Nationals, baseball’s living example of NBC’s fall schedule.

Rose has a small history with the franchise, signing a one-year deal in 1984 with the then-Montreal Expos. He has more than enough ego to believe his baseball acumen will be enough to turn the 44-80 NL East doormats into a competitive franchise faster than he can say, “I’ll take the Vikings and give the points!”

As for the Hall of Fame, it isn’t automatic for Rose. He’s in the Veterans Committee’s hands. While there is support from the likes of Joe Morgan, Mike Schmidt and Hank Aaron, former teammate Johnny Bench is one who has been against Rose’s reinstatement.

So, I have another plan: Rose should activate himself for a few pinch-hit appearances. First off, he’d set a record for oldest player to appear in a major-league game (beating Satchel Paige), for batting in a major-league game (topping Nick Altrock, if Wikipedia can be believed), and a chance to be the oldest player to hit safely in a game (besting 54-year-old Jim O’Rourke in 1904).

And by appearing, he can get himself on the writers’ ballot in five years.

Baseball and Pete Rose should come together. Right now. Over me.

Tony Garcia is a news copy editor for the Rockford Register Star. He can be reached at

BallHype: hype it up!

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