Purgatory Online

Wednesday, August 13, 2003

By now, you've probably heard that Derek Zumsteg and Will Carroll at Baseball Prospectus have broken a story that Bud Selig intends to reinstate Pete Rose - technically, take him off the ineligible list - after this year's World Series. Rose would be eligible to hold any position in Major League Baseball except manager in 2004, but would be allowed to manage beginning in 2005. In return, Zumsteg and Carroll say, Rose will not be required to admit that he bet on baseball. In fact, Rose doesn't seem to be required to do much of anything; the agreement (which, they say, is in written form already and has been since last November) is essentially a complete capitulation to Rose.

Rob Neyer argues fairly convincingly that Rose will ultimately have to admit betting on baseball. There's simply too large, and too powerful, a group of people out there who think that contrition is a necessary precursor to forgiveness. But clearly that's a huge step for Rose, and not just because of his ego - remember, no official finding was ever made on whether Rose bet on baseball; he's on the ineligble list not for gambling but for engaging in acts that are detrimental to baseball. An actual admission that he did place wagers on MLB games during his playing and/or managing career gives MLB an ironclad reason to ban him permanently. And just saying that he's willing to admit it in the context of making a deal with Selig places Rose in a position of having to trust the Commissioner not to say "Aha! So you did bet on baseball!" Would that stand up in court? Of course not. But it's got to have occurred to Pete Rose, who probably is fairly paranoid about that kind of thing by this point. Which is why I think there may not be an actual, signed deal right now, and there may not be until the very end. It wouldn't surprise me to learn that Rose will go into a room this November, sign a statement admitting that he bet on baseball, and simultaneously exchange that paper with the Commissioner for a copy of his reinstatement.