Dear editors–

Thanks again to Ted Cox for another lovely and enlightening piece about baseball [November 5].

I share Cox’s opinions about Pete Rose’s relative merits as a player and his analysis of the dynamics surrounding sportscaster Jim Gray’s confrontation with Rose at the all-century team gathering prior to game two of the World Series.

Cox seems to assert that baseball commissioner Bart Giamatti banned Rose in 1989 because “he believed Rose bet on baseball,” and this remains all the justification Cox needs to support the ban.

However, my understanding of the situation is that Giamatti banned Rose from baseball because of his refusal to cooperate with the investigation into his alleged gambling. In this scenario, Rose enters the ban from baseball freely and willingly, in exchange for the allegations against him to remain unresolved.

Since then, his supporters have been able to use the “unresolved” status to argue for his innocence and, in an amazing breach of logic, his reinstatement to baseball! But for Rose himself to gripe about any perceived injustice of the ban, which he signed, and indeed to even allow himself to participate with MLB as a member of the all-century team, is only further evidence of Rose’s snaky, self-aggrandizing, and ethically slipshod character.

If I have misunderstood the facts of the case, I would greatly appreciate any clarification that Cox can offer to me, if he is so inclined.

Bob Conrad

Ted Cox replies:

The exact reasoning behind Giamatti’s ban of Rose is complicated by a number of issues at play at the time. Giamatti said in a formal statement when he announced the ban that “by choosing not to come to a hearing before me, and by choosing not to proffer any testimony or evidence contrary to the evidence and information contained in the report of the Special Counsel to the Commissioner, Mr. Rose has accepted baseball’s ultimate sanction, lifetime ineligibility.” In a court of law, of course, no one can be compelled to defend himself, and Rose was fighting the case in court with a civil suit at the time, but in signing an agreement allowing the ban Rose submitted to “the sole and exclusive jurisdiction of the Commissioner” and agreed to drop his suit and keep the matter out of the courts. He has never challenged that part of the agreement.

Rose wasn’t banned for not contesting the allegations so much as he was banned for not even attempting to refute them. Thus, the allegations stood, and the allegations were and are considerable. Simply failing to cooperate with an investigation wouldn’t get a player banned from baseball unless, of course, that investigation involved betting on baseball.

Giamatti himself immediately complicated matters by stating that he personally believed Rose bet on baseball, something that was deliberately left ambiguous in the agreement, which stated only that “Rose acknowledges that the Commissioner has a factual basis to impose the penalty.” Rose has fought that finding in the court of public opinion ever since.

Giamatti clearly believed Rose bet on baseball, but just as clearly he wouldn’t have put forth such a weak and ambiguous agreement–strong as the penalties were–if he thought absolutely the evidence presented by special counsel John Dowd would stand up in court. If I may cut Rose some slack, he must have felt hosed signing an ambiguous agreement which Giamatti immediately attempted to make unambiguous with his additional remarks, and he probably doesn’t feel fettered today by any matters of honor in fighting the sanctions without actually addressing the specific allegations that he bet on baseball except to say he didn’t.

That said, I repeat that I trust Giamatti to have made the right call on this matter, which he treated all along as deadly serious. Dowd, under attack by Rose and the pro-Rose forces, has put out the full text of his report and the agreement Rose signed on the Internet at I refer Mr. Conrad and any other interested fans to that Web site, as–until Rose decides to counter the specific allegations–it’s all we have to go on.