- Jim Caple, Senior Writer, ESPN.com
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Don't do it, Bud.
Don't send a message that it's all right to break the one rule posted in every clubhouse. Don't send a message that it's all right to bet on baseball. Don't send a message that as long as you remain popular, you'll be forgiven even if you never say you're sorry.
According to Baseball Prospectus, Rose will be removed from the permanently ineligible list after this season, made eligible for the Hall of Fame and allowed to manage the Reds in 2005. All without an admission of any wrongdoing. Big-league officials deny the story but no one denies both sides have been discussing some sort of resolution.
And this issue needs to be resolved. But it must be done the right way.
First, make Rose apologize. Make him at least admit the disgrace he brought to the game.
Once he does that, make Rose eligible for the Hall of Fame. He has been punished long enough on this matter. When Bart Giamatti banned Rose from the game, he never intended to ban him from Cooperstown as well. He knew that whatever Rose did as a manager could not remove his record as a player. So let him into Cooperstown.
And let him work in baseball, too. Let him work for a team in community relations. Let him work as a broadcaster. Let him sell season tickets. Hell, let him sell beer in the stands.
But never, ever let him manage. Never let him hold a job that could in any way affect the game on the field. The man cannot be trusted. He bet on baseball. He bet on his team. He's shown no contrition. He continues to gamble.
I know Rose has popular support but this isn't a popularity issue. This is a simple matter of what is right and wrong. And it's wrong for a man who bet on his team to be in charge of the fate of another team.
Sure, Rose has an image of always playing to win. Of wanting to win so badly that he crashed into Ray Fosse during the 1970 All-Star Game. Well, what if in addition to that competitive fire, he also bet on the game he's managing? Couldn't you easily picture him staying with a starting pitcher too long? Couldn't you imagine him risking the long-term health of a player to make sure he won a bet? Couldn't he damage a player's career just because he has a $10,000 bet on the game?
That's why you can't let him manage. A manager has to make decisions based on what's best for the team for the entire season, not what's best for him and his bookie that night.
And why is there such a cry to get a 62-year-old gambler in the dugout anyway? There are dozens of men who have devoted their entire lives to the game and deserve the chance more.
Men like Yankees third base coach Willie Randolph and Twins third base coach Al Newman. There are dozens of men who have served their time as major-league coaches and/or managed in the minors, riding the buses and eating the crappy food and staying in the cheap motels, who are desperate to manage in the majors. Men who read the rule on gambling and understood it applied to them. Men who never bet on their team. They're the ones who deserve a crack at managing, not Rose.
Rose had his chance at managing. He squandered it away. There is no reason to give him another.
Baseball has remained largely silent on Rose, preferring not to talk about one of its more embarrassing episodes. That's understandable but Rose has used that silence to turn himself into a martyr, making fans think he's somehow the victim here. He's not.
It's time to send a powerful message on Rose, commissioner. Make sure it's the right one.
Jim Caple is a senior writer for ESPN.com.
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