The Philadelphia Phillies are trying to shift the blame elsewhere after inviting Pete Rose back to the ballpark. Rose, who the team previously distanced itself from after he was accused of having a relationship with a minor, is expected to appear at Citizens Bank Park on Aug. 7 as part of a celebration of the team's 1980 World Series win.
The team said it consulted with Rose's former teammates and said the commissioner's office approved the invite.
Another statement from the Phillies on the inclusion of Pete Rose in their upcoming celebration of the 1980 WS team: pic.twitter.com/jZ9S1RrsCr
— Alex Coffey (@byalexcoffey) July 24, 2022
The invitation is notable, as it marks the first time in years Rose was invited to the park. The team was supposed to honor Rose's induction into the Phillies' wall of fame in 2017, but rescinded that offer after court documents alleged Rose had a relationship with a minor in the '70s.
Rose was accused of having an extra-marital relationship with a girl under the age of 16. The age of consent in Ohio, where some of the relationship was alleged to have taken place, is 16. Rose reportedly admitted he had a relationship with the girl, but believed she was older than 16.
Those documents emerged after Rose sued John Dowd, who oversaw MLB's investigation into Rose in the '80s, for defamation. The accusations were presented as part of Dowd's defense. They did not result in a criminal charge for Rose because the statute of limitations in Ohio passed when the allegations emerged.
In addition to those accusations, Rose is also banned from baseball due to a gambling scandal. If Rose appears at Citizens Bank Park on Aug. 7, it will mark the first time since his ban that he's been back on the Phillies' field since accepting a lifetime ban.
Will Pete Rose still appear at Phillies' celebration?
The Phillies' statements suggest the team considers the matter closed, and that Rose will make an appearance at the park Aug. 7. In its statement, the team did not address the accusations against Rose, or mention his lifetime ban from baseball. Instead, it tried to shift the blame to Rose's teammates and Rob Manfred for allowing Rose's invitation.
The team also failed to explain why it was appropriate to invite Rose to the park now, or what changed between now and 2017, when the accusations first emerged. It's also unclear which members of the Phillies' organization signed off on the invite. Did one person lead the charge or did multiple people sign off on bringing Rose back?
The Phillies already tried to shift the focus off Rose, calling it a team celebration. While that's technically true, Rose's involvement has already taken the focus away off the team. His return will be the biggest story from the Aug. 7 celebration.
Assuming he is greeted with cheers, his is presence at the park will be normalized, opening the door for the Phillies to honor Rose at individual events. The Aug. 7 event provides a gateway for Rose to re-enter the baseball world.