Now that the fervor and excitement has ebbed somewhat about Cincinnati hosting the 2015 All-Star Game, it’s time to deal with one of the issues that has been a constant source of controversy within the regime of Commissioner Bud Selig and Major League Baseball. Everyone knows what this is about. It’s about Peter Edward Rose.
The question has been raised if the Lords of Baseball will allow Pete Rose to participate in any pregame festivities, since his ban would preclude him from being invited. But this needs to go further. It’s time to resolve this issue. It’s gone on long enough.
Reds owner Bob Castellini has gone the extra mile with Selig and MLB. The Reds hosted back to back Civil Rights games that resulted in sellouts, goodwill and apparently pleased Selig. It was good for baseball, good for the Reds and a step forward. Further, the Reds’ involvement in the community, spearheaded by Castellini, exemplifies how a professional sports franchise should interact and give back to its city/region.
If Bud Selig is still the Commissioner in 2015, here’s what he should do:
As the buildup for the All-Star Game begins in 2015, MLB and Selig should avoid the Rose issue. Then, two weeks before the game (or more important, the week-long festivities) Selig should issue a statement that he will make an “important” announcement regarding the status of Pete Rose on the field of Great American Ballpark just prior to the start of the game.
In this age of instant sports coverage, The Worldwide Leader and Oprah Winfrey replacing Walter Cronkite in terms of breaking news, this simple announcement will dominate the sports world for two weeks leading up to the game. The buildup would be unprecedented, at least for a sport that could learn a few things from the NFL. Baseball would dominate the sports news. All eyes would be focused on the All-Star Game and the City of Cincinnati.
The night of the game, shortly before the National Anthem, Bud Selig would take the field. Standing before a sellout crowd at Great American Ballpark and a massive nationwide audience on television, Selig would introduce seven of “the Great Eight” starting players for the Big Red Machine, to honor what has been judged one of the best teams in baseball history.
Cesar Geronimo. Ken Griffey. Dave Concepcion. All attention would be focused on Selig and Great American Ballpark. All the fans would be on their feet.
George Foster. Joe Morgan. The noise would start to be deafening. GAB’s scoreboard would be showing highlights of the Great Eight and the World Series triumphs over the Red Sox and the Yankees.
Johnny Bench. And then Tony Perez, one of the most beloved Reds of all time. The two championship trophies from 1975 and 1976 would also be on the field. Fireworks would be going off in the background over the Ohio River.
And then, at that point, Selig would make the announcement that Rose would be reinstated to the good graces of baseball. The ban would be lifted and Selig would introduce Pete Rose to the crowd.
At that point, the crowd at Great American Ballpark would erupt. And Rose would trot on the field, reunited with his teammates and embrace the Commissioner. And as Marty Brennaman would say, “There’s pandemonium on the field.”
This is a win-win proposition — good for Selig, good for Pete Rose, good for the City of Cincinnati and good for baseball.
It would cement Selig’s legacy. If franchise stability, a prolonged era of labor peace and both players and owners making obscene amounts of money are truly the Commissioner’s body of work, pardoning Rose is the icing on the cake. Americans, traditionally, are a forgiving people. Selig would no longer be the rigid, immovable Commissioner on the Rose issue; he would be the Commissioner who listened to the fans. Selig could calm down the hard liners in MLB by requiring Rose to do some baseball-related anti-gambling/anti-betting talks around the country.
In Rose’s case, it gives him the chance for enshrinement in the greatest of Halls of Fame. It doesn’t resolve that issue; that’s up to the voters. They stated pretty overwhelmingly how they feel about Sammy Sosa and Roger Clemens this year. If Rose becomes eligible, we’ll find out soon enough how they feel about his candidacy.
The Reds benefit by being off the hook. They have honored Rose, in a subtle sort of way during the ban. The Rose Garden, just outside of the Reds Hall of Fame; the number 14, while not retired, is not issued. You can bet (no pun intended) that the Reds would invite Rose to spring training to talk baseball to their young players. Nothing against Brook Jacoby, but if you were a young 20-year old player, who are you most likely to listen to— Brook Jacoby or Pete Rose? Be honest now.
This isn’t to forgive Rose’s wrongdoings. He’s been his own worst enemy the last twenty years and he’s just as stubborn as Selig. His bizarre reality show (Disclaimer: haven’t seen it, unable to watch it from here in Afghanistan, don’t care to see it or any shows of that ilk) hasn’t helped his cause after the reviews that I have read.
If Bud Selig steps down after the 2014 season, then the opportunity would be there for his successor to carry out this action, especially if Selig’s heels are dug in too deep. Timing is everything and if Selig is gone, it fits.
Getting the All-Star game in Cincinnati could be the first step in this process. The opportunity is there, thanks to Bob Castellini. It’s an opportunity that should be seized.
Steve grew up in Cincinnati as a die-hard fan of Sparky’s Big Red Machine. After 25 years living outside of Ohio, mostly in Ann Arbor, he returned to the Queen City in 2004. He has resumed a first-person love affair with the Cincinnati Reds and is a season ticket holder at Great American Ball Park. The only place to find Steve’s thoughts of more than 140 characters is Redleg Nation. Follow his tweets @spmancuso.