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Fay Vincent's NY Times Op Ed piece about Pete Rose | blog.deanland.com

Fay Vincent's NY Times Op Ed piece about Pete Rose

This Op-Ed piece by Fay Vincent appeared in the Monday, December 16, 2002 NY Times as a guest editorial. The Times, in some sort of maniacal, protective, paranoid, money-grubbing strategy, feels it should charge the readers for old articles. Yes, the fishwrapper tariff. So just in case some one wants to read this after The Times no longer deems it worthy of reading for free, here it is. Will The Times sue a not-for-profit blogger for using Fay Vincent's words to illustrate a point? Let us hope and pray this is not the case. If it is, and you've read this, and I get sued, I am counting on you for some support. Even if it is just moral support!


No Joy for Pete Rose

By FAY VINCENT

one of the people in Baseball for whom I have the highest of respect and regard.  Fay Vincent, a man of conviction, courage, and moral turpitude.  Voted out of his job for doing the right thing.  </p />
</p><p>Eerie fact: almost every picture of Vincent has him in the shadows, or had some oddity to make his appearance seem peculiar.</p>
<p>He remains a symbol of dignity, grace, ethics, and backbone in sharp contrast with his successor, the Acting Commissioner and Ass Kisser for Life, Bud what should we do, boys?!" Selig.">

VERO BEACH, Fla. ó "It breaks your heart. It is designed to break your heart." That was Bart Giamatti's take on the game he loved. He was the baseball commissioner for only five months during the 1989 season. In that time he presided over the investigation of whether Pete Rose gambled on baseball. When the investigation concluded, Bart's heart was broken.

The evidence collected by the commissioner's office ó betting slips in Mr. Rose's handwriting, the testimony of his bookie ó seemed overwhelming. Mr. Rose, the all-time leader in hits, had bet on his own team repeatedly. He committed baseball's capital crime. But Mr. Rose would admit nothing, so Bart was left with no choice. Mr. Rose was banished from the game and placed on the permanently ineligible list. Eight days later, a heart attack claimed Bart's life.

And now there's talk of Mr. Rose cutting a deal with the current commissioner, Bud Selig, so that he may return to baseball, possibly in the job he had when he was thrown out ó manager of the Cincinnati Reds. I was Bart's deputy in 1989, and from my seat I see no reason why Mr. Rose should be allowed back in the game. On talk radio people say, "Thirteen years is punishment enough." No, it's not. Nothing has changed in 13 years. Mr. Selig knows this well. He was the owner of the Milwaukee Brewers when Bart outlined what Mr. Rose needed to do to return to the game: admit publicly to his gambling and to "reconfigure" his life. Mr. Rose has admitted to nothing and remains a habituÈ of the better dog tracks. He's a gambler.

The Rose case is not about what is best or fair for Peter Edward Rose. The vital issue is what is best for baseball. The commissioner must act in the best interests of the game. Gambling on baseball by baseball personnel undermines the sport. The deterrent, the risk of lifetime banishment, works. Everyone in baseball knows with certainty that betting on a game in which you have an interest will lead to a lifetime ban. To dilute that deeply felt fear the present commissioner must conclude that all previous commissioners were wrong. After all, none of us was willing to reinstate Shoeless Joe Jackson.

Mr. Rose can be very likable. I remember when he came into our first meeting to discuss the gambling allegations. He arrived in a shiny green suit, and he charmed us. The public loved his headfirst game and, if the polls can be believed, overwhelmingly support his reinstatement bid today. They believe, as Mr. Rose has argued, that he has suffered enough and that he deserves another chance. Another chance to do what? To earn the seven-figure salaries managers receive today?

For Bud Selig, a close friend and admirer of Bart's, this must be a very difficult decision. My advice, unsolicited, is for him to move cautiously. Maybe Mr. Selig wishes to appease the public by permitting Mr. Rose to be eligible for the Hall of Fame, but only if he admits to betting on the Reds. (At present, players on the permanently ineligible list may not appear on the Hall of Fame ballot.) But Mr. Selig should not permit Mr. Rose to manage again, unless the bar is raised even higher. To get back in the game, Mr. Rose would have to admit that he bet on his team, demonstrate a reconfigured life and dedicate himself to public service on behalf of baseball. Of course, if it were up to me the ban would stand.

I accept the ancient dictum to temper justice with mercy. But to readmit Mr. Rose now, with only a press-release apology, would exhibit too much mercy to a single man and not enough respect for the game he played and the fans who pay to watch it. It is Mr. Rose who has yet to accept the justice of his situation. He had 4,256 hits ó and one colossal whiff.

Fay Vincent, the commissioner of Major League Baseball from 1989 to 1992, is author of ``The Last Commissioner: A Baseball Valentine.''