John Perricone over at Only Baseball Matters has a letter or two posted from a reader re. the Rose affair. I sent John the following email in response to the first letter:
I have to point out some issues related to the upbraiding letter from your reader.
1) Yes, there is evidence. I'll even concede "tons" of it. But it boils down to the evidence of two individuals and their coteries and some creatively acquired so-called betting slips allegedly in Pete Rose's handwriting. I have no problem that it comes from "less than savory characters", aren't we all? I have a problem with the way that the Dowd report took everything that these individuals said at face value even though it was highly self-contradictory and inconsistent overall and it came from individuals who clearly had a motive to cast aspersions on Rose's less than savory character. The slips were acquired by one of these individuals, and they too were accepted as credible evidence even though baseball only saw COPIES of them.
The reader concedes that the slips refer to NBA games (though Cincinnati has been out of the NBA since Big O's days). So what's wrong with that from MLB's point of view.
"Would the Dowd Report be enough to convict Rose in a criminal court?" Of course not. As Bill James said, MLB's lawyers would be laughed out of court. I know that baseball "doesn't have to hold itself to a 'reasonable doubt' standard", but it does owe it to its fans to conduct a proper investigation. One riddled with holes is not sufficient to ban one of its most popular players for life.
2) If Rose confesses to gambling on baseball in general BUT not on the Reds, then Rule 21 would dictate that Rose be suspended for one year. However, if he did admit to betting on the Reds, he would present MLB with the most compelling piece of evidence as to his guilt in the matter. If this were the case, Rose would have to be suspended for life.
The media in general fails to see the distinction between betting on baseball in general and on the Reds specifically. The former is a "minor" offense; the latter would be the kiss of death for Rose.
I believe that they are brokering a deal in which Rose admits to gambling on baseball but not on the Reds. He gets sentenced either to an additional year (probably) of exile or the sentence is commuted for time served. And then like Tony Sporano and Carmine Lupertazzi, Bud and Pete kiss and make up.
As far as the second letter is concerned, the best reason I have heard regarding Rose's rationale for signing the agreement 13 years ago was that he was about to be embroiled in real legal issues and needed to cut his losses on the baseball front in order to devote his entire legal team to keeping him out of jail (which was unsuccessful). I think that "Collision at Home" goes into this in more detail. It also argues, as does John's reader, that the reinstatement provision was a bone that definitely intrigued Rose.
Rose could admit that he bet on baseball in general since that only carries a one-year suspension. He's served that 13 times over. I believe that baseball will require that much to save face.
I cannot imagine what kind of deal would bar Rose from managing but would put him in the Hall. Nor can I imagine why Rose would agree to it. If he is banned, he's banned; otherwise, he is just like anyone else. If baseball barred him by going against their stated rules, I believe that Rose could sue them and win. It's like your company printing something in the Employee Manual and then flagrantly disregarding it. Whether or not Bud can use his influence to prevent Rose from being hired as manager and whether the collective distaste for Rose is enough to prevent his managing again have yet to be determined.
Giamatti did leave it too open-ended. Oddly he remarked at the press conference surrounding the agreement:
The matter of Mr. Rose is now closed. It will be debated and discussed. Let no one think that it did not hurt baseball. That hurt will pass, however, as the great glory of the game asserts itself and a resilient institution goes forward. Let it also be clear that no individual is superior to the game.