The initial instinct is to blame the Phillies. They’re the ones that thought it was a good idea to invite the creep while honoring the 1980 World Series team. To fete the guy who they had to uninvite in a similar spot a few years ago because he got accused of statutory rape.
But doing that would oversimplify Pete Rose’s disgusting and embarrassing Sunday at the ballpark.
Nostalgia is a hell of a drug. That’s why droves of people keep lining up in Cooperstown and Las Vegas and in convention halls coast to coast to pay money for Rose’s signature. And why the Phillies (and the Reds before them) have dragged the Hit King out for the occasional celebration. They just can’t help themselves. Which is why the finger should be pointed directly at MLB commissioner Rob Manfred and his office.
Enough is enough. Rose does not deserve furloughs from his well-earned disgrace. Manfred needs to come out today and make it known in big bold letters the days of allowing Rose convenient exceptions is over. The man is banned from baseball. Period. It is in the game’s best interest that Rose never step foot on a big league field or in a clubhouse or dugout again.
You cannot tell the story of baseball without Rose. But that doesn’t mean he gets to have any role in the telling. Rose was a great player who committed the sport’s unforgivable sin. He lied about betting on the game for years until there was a buck to be made telling the truth. And now he is completely unremorseful about an undeniably inappropriate and potentially illegal sexual relationship with a young girl decades ago. Not to mention he cannot go on television without swearing or conduct an interview without being combative, insensitive and misogynistic.
“Who cares what happened 50 years ago,” Rose said when asked about the 2017 statutory rape allegations. This defiant response came after he disrespected a Philadelphia Inquirer reporter by calling her “babe” when she pressed him on the matter. His “apology” for that comment — offering the reporter a thousand signed balls before offering an insincere “sorry” — was even more pathetic.
“You weren’t even born,” Rose continued. “So, you shouldn’t be talking about it, because you weren’t born. If you don’t know a damn thing about it, don’t talk about it.”
We do know Bart Giamatti saw to it that Rose be ruled permanently ineligible from baseball for good reason. Bud Selig’s better angels allowed for some flexibility on the permanent part, and Manfred inherited that precedent. But he should now end it.
Think about it: The Phillies pulled the plug on Rose going into their Wall of Fame five years ago because of the statutory rape allegations. But they still wheeled him out the next time it made sense to slap him in a powder blue throwback and pop a big number at the gate. They just can’t help themselves. The same goes for too many others. That’s on Manfred in the end. So is the correction. Rose is a scourge on the game. Baseball should be done with him. Let him buy a ticket if he wants.
James Kratch can be reached at [email protected]