It seems that recidivist gambler Pete Rose owes the federal government $151,689 in taxes dating from 1998. How unusual that Rose, a convicted tax evader, would owe back taxes. A couple of signed bats on QVC will get that debt paid off in a jiffy.
But now MLB according to an ESPN article might change its collective mind regarding his reinstatement.
Baseball commissioner Bud Selig's position on the talks -- and Rose's eligibility for the Hall of Fame -- could be affected by the tax revelations, a high-ranking baseball official said Friday on condition of anonymity. Selig refused to comment.
Selig will have a tough time defending his position if this turns out to be the excuse used to continue barring him from the Hall. First, Selig himself has been embroiled in many peccadilloes in the last few years, financial and otherwise. He claims not to be running the Milwaukee Brewers while being commissioner, but everything he has enacted has benefited that moribund franchise greatly. He has his coterie of owners swap franchises below the market value and proffer personal loans surreptitiously. With the Montreal Expos still own by MLB, every move is called into question, especially the recent public Bartolo Colon pilfering. And he who is without sin, yuddah yuddah.
Second, the specious argument for Rose's induction, that is that there are a number of unseemly characters in the Hall so what's one more, will now apply. Rose has not been affiliated with organized ball for 13 years. So how does his off-field conduct have anything to do with his reinstatement, especially when that conduct may boil down to an accounting error and may be quickly taken care of?
Besides 1998 was five years ago and one has to wonder if this is coming to light because it just hit some 5-year threshold that escalated its importance. Why else had we not heard anything about it for five years? Who knows what sorts of things may be brewing in his financial and personal life that may come to light in the future? For instance, if he didn't pay his 1998 taxes, what 1999, 2000, etc?
Rose is a scumbag. Didn't we already know this? But his actions off the field should have nothing to do with his reinstatement. His case's the thing wherein Bud will catch the conscience of the "Hit King". MLB is playing an odd game with Rose, holding him to a higher ethical standard to somehow mitigate his actions from more than 13 years ago. If Selig believes that Rose bet on the Reds while he was the manager--that is the only offense that would ban him for life, not just the misdemeanor of betting on baseball in general which carries a one-year ban--then by all means, do not reinstate him. If he feels the evidence is strong enough, then his path is clear. I would disagree with the strength of the evidence--especially since then-commissioner Bart Giamatti signed a document that said no finding could be made on this exact issue--, but I would respect the decision. But to continue to conduct a vivisection of Rose's personal life to plumb the depths of his soul, or lack thereof, before deigning to allow him back in is misdirected and hypocritical. Recently admitted Hall-of-Famer Kirby Puckett was recently enmeshed in a sexual assault lawsuit apparently causing his wife to file for divorce. Is Selig set to examine Puckett's personal life and to determine if he should lose his plaque in Cooperstown if he is found wanting? Of course not because it has nothing to do with his performance on the field. So what do Rose's morally reprehensible actions have to do with his reinstatement? Nothing. Bud's cold feet in re-uniting with the puckish Rose are understandable, but he needs to understand that asking Rose to have been squeaky clean for the past 13 Elba-esque years is unrealistic. His goal should be to put this ugly chapter in baseball's rearview mirror while he and his fellow owners prepare to plunder the baseball landscape.
His plight is not unlike that of Alex and his droogies in A Clockwork Orange whose escapades and life were nearly ended after revisiting the site of a former bit of the old ultra-violence. Bud should remember that he is above all other things the baseball commissioner. Therefore, his number one goal is to line the owners' pockets and that extending the shelf life of this Rose imbroglio is ultimately bad for business.