Pete Rose broke Major League Baseball's fundamental rule about gambling on the sport and he lied about breaking that rule. He deserved to receive a harsh punishment and he has received a harsh punishment: Rose accepted a lifetime ban in 1989. That ban came with a proviso enabling Rose to apply to the MLB Commissioner for reinstatement after one year but now that Rob Manfred has become the third consecutive MLB Commissioner to reject Rose's application for reinstatement it appears that Rose's lifetime ban will most likely never be lifted.
It is understandable why MLB refuses to let Rose have an active role in the sport as an executive, field manager or instructor. Rose continues to bet on sports--including baseball--and even though Rose now apparently does his gambling legally he has failed to "reconfigure his life," which was the standard imposed upon him in order to be reinstated. If Rose were not a compulsive gambler and/or a very stubborn/defiant person then he would have stopped gambling completely and stopped associating himself with casinos. Rose's complaint that this is the only way he can support himself after being banned from baseball does not hold water; Rose remains an immensely popular figure who does not need to be involved with gambling in order to support himself.
If Rose were permitted to work in baseball this would not only reduce the deterrence value of the lifetime ban but it would also potentially create huge problems; Rose clearly cannot stop gambling and if he has access to insider knowledge about baseball players and teams then the possibilities for fixing games (or simply having an unfair advantage as a wagerer) are huge. That is not to say that Rose ever fixed a game or that he would fix a game now but it is understandable that MLB does not want to take such a risk with a compulsive gambler who is also a serial liar.
Rose would have a lot to offer to the sport if he had not chosen this life path but he has to suffer the natural consequences of his mistakes. Rose's exile from the sport he loves is tragic but it is a self-imposed tragedy and it is a tragedy that he could have mitigated over the past few decades if he had made some sincere efforts to "reconfigure his life." Rose reminds me of an alcoholic who says "I can stop drinking whenever I want" but refuses to stop drinking even if the alcohol consumption could harm the alcoholic and/or others. Rose needs intensive therapy/treatment to control his gambling addiction and he has never sought out that help; that is his prerogative and if all of his gambling activities now are legal then no one has the legal authority to stop him but MLB provided Rose with a standard for reinstatement--life reconfiguration--and Rose has failed to meet that standard.
However, Rose's eligibility for Hall of Fame induction should be restored. When Rose agreed to accept the lifetime ban with the possibility of applying for reinstatement, he did not forfeit his eligibility for Baseball Hall of Fame induction. Rose became ineligible for the Baseball Hall of Fame on February 4, 1991, when the Baseball Hall of Fame passed a rule prohibiting anyone who is on MLB's permanently ineligible list from being inducted in the Baseball Hall of Fame. Rose is the only living person on the permanently ineligible list, which means that the rule was passed purely to exclude him (it may theoretically exclude other people in the future but he is the only living person affected by the rule now). Without this new rule, Rose would have appeared on the Baseball Writers Association of America Hall of Fame ballot from 1992-2006. The writers could have studied the evidence at their leisure and made their own determination about whether or not Rose belongs in the Baseball Hall of Fame. Clearly, based on the merits of his skills and accomplishments, Rose would be a first ballot Hall of Famer. A case could be made that based on character he should be excluded--but the writers should at least have been given the opportunity to pass judgment and to consider that judgment over a 15 year period (assuming that Rose did not make it in immediately).
The Veterans Committee examines the Hall of Fame candidacies of any eligible candidate for the Baseball Hall of Fame who is not selected after being on the BBWAA ballot but in 2008 the Veterans Committee passed a rule barring anyone from the permanently ineligible list from being considered for Hall of Fame induction. Again, this is a rule that primarily if not exclusively affects Rose.
I understand the argument that Rose's character flaws should keep him out of the Baseball Hall of Fame. I have made it clear that MLB's PED cheaters should not be inducted in the Hall of Fame because they have defiled MLB's record book. What Rose did is terrible and the way that he denied his conduct for years before begrudgingly making some admissions says a lot about Rose's character but the difference between Rose and the PED cheaters is that there is no evidence that Rose's gambling impacted the quality of his play or defiled the sport's record book. Rose should be placed on the Baseball Hall of Fame ballot and if he is voted in then his plaque should not only list his pertinent accomplishments but also state that in 1989 he was placed on the permanently ineligible list because he bet on baseball. Unless or until there is evidence that Rose's playing career/statistics are tainted by his gambling Rose deserves at least the opportunity to be selected as a Baseball Hall of Famer. The lifetime ban from the sport shields MLB from any damage that Rose's compulsive gambling could cause now and punishes him in a way that will hopefully deter others from making the mistakes that he did.