Hall of Fame third baseman Mike Schmidt says "baseball's inconsistency" may have resulted in Pete Rose's getting an unfair shake compared to players who might have used performance-enhancing drugs.
"Pete bet on his team to win and has been banished from baseball for life," Schmidt says in a column written for The Associated Press. "Manny Ramirez, Alex Rodriguez et al, bet that they would get bigger, stronger and have a distinct advantage over everyone and that they wouldn't get caught. Which is worse? Does the penalty fit the crime?"
Schmidt says he regained hope toward Rose's plight for a Hall of Fame bid when his case was thrust back into the spotlight as Hank Aaron said recently that Rose had paid the price and deserved reinstatement.
"All of us thought this was a new life for Pete, as Aaron is close to commissioner [Bud] Selig and could sway fellow members," Schmidt said in the article published Saturday.
In the column, Schmidt chronicles the history of Rose's downfall -- from his banishment for life from baseball by then-commissioner Bart Giamatti in 1989, to Rose's admission to gambling on the game -- before asking: "Did Pete Rose, in fact, knowingly compromise the integrity of baseball? And second, did/do the players who used steroids knowingly compromise the integrity of baseball?"
Aaron has said he hasn't spoken with Selig about it but is firmly in favor of a reinstatement for Rose.
"How long does a person have to die?" Aaron said earlier this month in an interview with the AP. "I think the thing that bothers me is that he is missing out on a lot of things. He made a mistake. I don't know what else can be done, or what else can be said. I just think at some point he needs to start enjoying being a Hall of Famer."
Selig has maintained that his stance on Rose is unchanged.
"What I said at the All-Star Game two weeks ago is my stance," Selig told fanhouse.com last month. "I agree to review [the possibility of reinstating Rose]. We are reviewing it, and nothing has changed."
Schmidt referred to this as Selig's "under advisement" stance.
"He has his reasons, which I may disagree with but respect," Schmidt wrote. "Even if Pete were to get by the commissioner, I feel it would take serious massaging of the members by Aaron, Joe Morgan and myself to get him the needed 75 percent quorum on a vote of Hall of Famers for election, and that may not be enough."