MLB Commissioner To Decide Whether To Reinstate Pete Rose : The Two-Way One of Major League Baseball's greatest players has been banned since 1989 for gambling on the game. But sports leagues' traditionally hard attitudes toward sports gambling seem to be softening.
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MLB Commissioner To Decide Whether To Reinstate Pete Rose

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MLB Commissioner To Decide Whether To Reinstate Pete Rose

MLB Commissioner To Decide Whether To Reinstate Pete Rose

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STEVE INSKEEP, HOST:

Baseball Commissioner Rob Manfred promises a decision this month. He will decide the future of Pete Rose. The former Cincinnati Reds star's been banned from the game since 1989.

DAVID GREENE, HOST:

Pete Rose hopes to be remembered as the player who put everything on the line. When sliding into a base, Rose did not go in feet-first like other players. He plunged headfirst.

INSKEEP: Today, he's better remembered for betting on the game. His every effort to be reinstated has failed. But there's a new commissioner and a new era of betting. Here's NPR's Tom Goldman.

TOM GOLDMAN, BYLINE: Rob Manfred has said he's going to take a full and fresh look at Pete Rose's case. So what's fresh? Let's start with Rose and the truth. For years, those two didn't have a particularly close relationship. Here he is in a 1991 interview with NBC's Jane Pauley.

(SOUNDBITE OF ARCHIVED RECORDING)

PETE ROSE: No way I bet on baseball. And I'll never admit I did.

GOLDMAN: But he did. In his 2004 book, "My Prison Without Bars," Rose admitted betting on baseball when he managed the Cincinnati Reds in the late 1980s. Even that, though, was only partially true. This past June, ESPN revealed documents showing Rose also bet as a player, when he was a player manager for the Reds. Rose and Rob Manfred met in September to talk about reinstatement. Rose said this about the meeting on Cincinnati TV station WCPO.

(SOUNDBITE OF ARCHIVED RECORDING)

ROSE: You don't know which way to read anything. I mean, all I know is I was truthful to him.

GOLDMAN: Now with all that's known, chances are good. Manfred got more of the whole truth than any past commissioner. What's also different this time around - a general climate in sports in which there's more acceptance of gambling. Ryan Rodenberg is a sports law professor at Florida State.

RYAN RODENBERG: In November of last year, Adam Silver, the NBA commissioner - somewhat of a game changer - did write an op-ed in The New York Times and came out in support of expanded legalized sports gambling.

GOLDMAN: It makes good business sense, says Rodenberg, as all the major leagues try to go global.

RODENBERG: Around the rest of the world, where they're trying to expand overseas, sports gambling is quite common.

GOLDMAN: Baseball also jumped into the popular and controversial world of daily fantasy sports. MLB has partnered with one of the top daily fantasy companies, DraftKings. But does a softening of the traditional hard edges around sports gambling telegraph a new opening for Pete Rose?

(SOUNDBITE OF APPLAUSE)

GOLDMAN: Rob Manfred did allow Rose to take part in the All-Star Game in Cincinnati in July, making this moment possible - an ovation as Rose walked onto the field. But the commissioner, who started his job in January, also has shown a toughness when it comes to betting on baseball. Manfred denied a request to reinstate the late Shoeless Joe Jackson, who was banned for his alleged role in fixing the 1919 World Series. And in a CNBC interview, Manfred reaffirmed the immutability of rule 21 - baseball's law prohibiting betting on the game - the law Pete Rose violated.

(SOUNDBITE OF ARCHIVED RECORDING)

ROB MANFRED: I think that the gambling rule is so fundamental to the integrity of the game that it should always stay where it is.

(SOUNDBITE OF ARCHIVED RECORDING)

UNIDENTIFIED MAN #1: He levels the bat a couple of times, Show kicks, and he fires, Rose swings...

UNIDENTIFIED MAN #2: There it is, there it is. Get out. Get out. All right.

(CHEERING)

UNIDENTIFIED MAN #1: Hit number 4192.

GOLDMAN: Rose's on-field accomplishments, including his all-time hits record, easily make him hall-of-fame worthy. Manfred doesn't control the hall of fame, which voted in 1991 to keep banned players out. But could Manfred's fresh look at the Pete Rose case somehow lead to a split decision - still out of baseball but in the hall? Rose supporters say it's a just reward for a 74-year-old man who's done his time. Detractors are equally adamant that any leniency for a rule-21 violator threatens the game going forward. It's no small decision for a new commissioner in a new era. Tom Goldman, NPR News.

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