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The Return of the Hit King
2003-08-12 09:17
by Mike Carminati

O, call back yesterday, bid time return!

-"Hit" King Richard II. Act iii. Sc. 2

To what base uses we may return, Horatio! Why may not imagination trace the noble dust of Alexander, till we find it stopping a bung-hole?

-Hamlet. Act v. Sc. 1

Baseball Prospectus reports that "Pete Rose and Major League Baseball have reached an agreement that would allow him to return to baseball in 2004, and includes no admission of wrongdoing by Rose."

But to misquote the Bard, to what base uses may Rose return? Rose will be eligible for the Hall of Fame in 2004. He can have a baseball position that "does not involve the day to day operations" in 2004. After one year that ban is lifted. So basically he can manage again in 2005.

Rose is a lock for the Hall now that the ban is lifted. Not even the writers could be stupid enough to omit him from their ballots next year. He may not get a Nolan Ryan-like 99% of the vote, but a reasonably prudent person would have to expect that Rose will get the necessary votes. Isn't that why the changed the rules in the first place because they were afraid that Rose may have even gotten elected while banned from the sport?

So what will be the remainder of his major-league career. Rose has been floating his video resume on ESPN of late in anticipation of the announcement. Given the difficulties in Cincinnati after moving into a highly anticipated, publicly funded stadium, I would think they would enfold the prodigal SOB in a welcoming embrace for 2003. Perhaps that's why he is barred from managing for one year. Anything can happen in Cincinnati in a year. Besides, hiring Rose in 2005 will not help the current PR nightmare that they have created with the perception that they sold out this very important season for them.

But the question remains, should Rose be hired as manager. Let's leave aside the moral dilemma of hiring a man that many feel bet on, but always for, his own team. Does Rose's record as manager merit another job offer?

Well, Rose was 412-373 for a .525 winning percentage. Of the 168 managers to have piloted teams for 750 or more games (through 2002), Rose is 53rd in winning percentage right behind Hall of Fame manager Tommy Lasorda, three men behind super genius Tony LaRussa, and six ahead of the Joe Torre.

So his managerial record is definitely respectable. One could point out that he got himself suspended for 30 games in 1988 for shoving umpire Dave Pallone. During that stretch the Reds went 12-15 and one could argue that it cost them a pennant as they ended up 7 games behind the world -champion Dodgers. Also, the club Rose piloted to a losing record in 1989 (59-66) before his suspension won the World Series a year later under Lou Piniella's guidance.

Would I hire Pete Rose to run my ballclub? I have been championing his cause for some time. I think he got shafted by baseball and the martyrization of Bart Giamatti. Rose should have been suspended one year, been reinstated and soon gone into the Hall of Fame. That said, if he were to come over to my house for dinner, I would count the silverware after he left. Rose has every right to manage. However, if I were an owner I wouldn't hire him on a bet.

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