Now that the seed is planted…

If you plant a seed, you expect it to grow.

Major League Baseball Commissioner Bud Selig planted a seed last week but I’m not sure the often naive Selig understands the controversy that is going to grow from it.

Next year, baseball’s all-star game is scheduled to take place at the Great American Ball Park, the home of the Cincinnati Reds.

Selig hinted that it is possible Pete Rose can be part of the program.

Yes, the Pete Rose that is banned for life from baseball.

Since Selig has raised that possibility, it’s going to be a topic of discussion from now until next July.

Rose is a controversial figure. It’s obvious that he never will get enough members of the Baseball Writers Association of America to elect him to membership in the Baseball Hall of Fame. His sin -betting on baseball games while serving as manager of the Reds – is viewed with as much disdain as players who used performance-enhancing drugs to put up Hall of Fame like numbers.

I found it strange that Selig’s comments came right after the death of San Diego Padres outfielder Tony Gwynn, whose name never came up at this year’s all-star game. Gwynn, like Rose, played the game of baseball the way it was meant to be played. Unlike Rose, he never was involved in a hint of scandal. It would have been nice to have had a moment of silence or some other way for fans to say good-bye to Gwynn, one of the greatest players and human beings ever to play the game.

Thanks to commissioner Selig, we’re now going to be talking about Pete Rose, quite likely more than any of the modern-day players who will play in next year’s game.

Asked if he would lift Rose’s lifetime ban, Selig gave the same answer he gives every time the question is asked: “It’s under advisement,” which is a more polite way of saying “no comment” while still avoiding the question.

If Rose ever is going to be honored on such a huge stage in Cincinnati, next year likely would be the last opportunity as he will be 74 years old when the All-Star Game is played. It likely won’t return to Cincinnati for another 30 years since baseball has the game’s site on an annual rotation schedule.

This is a difficult issue. Rose is baseball’s all-time hit king and already would have been in the Hall of Fame if he hadn’t been banned for life by Commissioner Bart Giamatti for betting on baseball games in which he was involved. He was one of America’s best-known and popular athletes with his all-out style of play, earning the nickname “Charlie Hustle.”

It’s likely the fans in Cincinnati would love to have a venue to say thanks to Rose for all his years of service to the Reds. Whether or not that should take place at a high-profile event such as the all-star game is certainly debatable.

Now that the commissioner has brought it up, it’s his call. And what a tough call it is.

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