A good question. Let's examine the situation. You're Pete Rose and Bart
Giammatti calls you into his office and presents you with this stack of
"evidence". You and your lawyer (not Johnnie Cochrane, I'm guessing) look it
over and listen to Holier-than-thou Bart and come to an inescapable conclusion
-- this guy has made up his mind. His investigator came back with a stack of
circumstancial evidence, slanted in one direction, and Giammatti has found you
guilty. There's no judge, no jury, no appeal -- just him. And Giammatti is
going to stand on the rooftops after a "fair hearing" and proclaim that you're
guilty of betting on baseball games. Just like it was a trial -- guilty as
charged, your honor. But you have an alternative, if you agree to be
suspended for an indefinite period (life, eligible for parole after five
years), Bart will sign a paper saying that this is not an admission of guilt
and that your acceptance of this in no way indicates that you're guilty. So
you sign it; hell, you're not getting a better deal. So what happens?
Giammatti promptly goes on TV and tells the world you're guilty, the evidence
proved it, and (wink, wink) what do you think that Pete's signing this means?
Basically, you've been screwed.
Of course, here's the kicker -- you didn't do it. Sure you bet with
bookies, but you never bet on any game you were involved in. Maybe you didn't
even bet on baseball -- you know the rules, during baseball season you don't
need the action anyway, managing is plenty of action for you. Now you're
screwed again; you've done the time alright, but they want contrition, they
want you to admit doing something you didn't do. So you're stuck. Maybe
there'll be a commissioner someday with a sense of your place in baseball
history, like Peter Ueberroth letting Mantle and Mays back in, and he'll bring
you back. But you're a fighter, and you're not going to lie to get back in. At
this point, there's no one to let him back in, and the Hall of Fame has
decided to punish him worse than all the racists, gamblers, wife-beaters, and
drunks already in the HOF. So Pete waits. Never tried in a court of law,
people who have never seen or heard the evidence are 100% sure he's guilty.
Do I know that what I've just presented here is true? No. But it's as
plausible as any other argument in this case. And enough for me to put the
all-time leader in hits, a man part of one of the greatest teams of all-time,
who later went and pushed a perennial bridesmaid (the Phillies) over the top,
on the ballot. Let the writers decide the relative merits of his great career
against his transgressions. If Orlando Cepeda, Dave Parker, and Keith
Hernandez are on the ballot, so should Pete be.
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