After twenty-six years, Pete Rose still can’t cross home plate with Major League Baseball. Commissioner Rob Manfred has told Rose that he will not lift the lifetime ban imposed in 1989 by then-commissioner Bart Giamatti for betting on baseball while managing the Cincinnati Reds. The decision comes not long after evidence emerged that Rose has lied about a key allegation ever since the initial investigation:
Rose, who has admitted the betting, met Manfred in September to talk about the possibility of ending the ban. That followed a formal request for reinstatement in which Rose asked for a chance to show that he had taken responsibility for the betting and had “reconfigured” his life, according to Manfred’s decision, released Monday.
Manfred said that he reviewed reports from the time of Rose’s banishment, and any relevant material, including a review of how Rose had conducting himself since then.
The new information included a copy of a notebook that documented bets Rose made on games in the Reds’ 1986 season, in which Rose both played and managed. That notebook was first reported by ESPN last summer.
The notebook had a little more impact than just show he bet on baseball as a player. It belonged to a man named Michael Bertolini, who used the notebook to track bets placed for Rose with mob-linked bookies in New York. For more than twenty years, news and sports media outlets had tried to get access to Bertolini’s notebook, without success. ESPN’s Outside the Lines finally got copies of some of its pages, enough to show that Rose had lied about his connections, and about his activities, ever since the investigation into his gambling first began.
Even with that out in the open, Rose couldn’t stop lying about it, according to Manfred, or about his other sports betting:
According to Manfred, Rose admitted betting on baseball in 1987 but said he couldn’t remember many facts outlined in the league’s original findings — called the Dowd Report — that found evidence of his betting as a player in the two previous seasons. And he “made assertions concerning his betting habits that were directly contradicted by documentary evidence” — the betting notebook, Manfred said.
“And, significantly, he told me that currently he bets recreationally and legally on horses and sports, including Baseball,” Manfred wrote.
Rose’s fans — and there are many of them — argue that 26 years of banishment is enough, and that MLB could reinstate him in a manner that would limit his access to just the Hall of Fame. There is some truth to that argument, but it was predicated on the assumption that Rose’s betting began as a manager, not a player, and that his record as a player was uncorrupted. That’s simply not the case, nor has Rose shown much inclination to deal with the situation honestly even after 26 years. On top of that, the entire reason for the ban is to keep criminal elements from exerting influence on the game (which is what happened in the 1919 Black Sox scandal), and Rose conducted his gambling with mob-linked bookies.
It’s a shame, because no one played baseball like Charlie Hustle back in the day. But Rose did this to himself, and still thinks he can out-hustle everyone else. He didn’t leave Manfred with much choice but to keep him out of the game.