Tuesday, July 28, 2009
Every Rose Has Its Thorn
MLB Commissioner and resident moron Bud Selig sent shock waves through the media yesterday when it was announced that he was considering lifting Pete Rose's lifetime ban from baseball for betting on the Reds when he was player/coach in the late 80's. I for one have always been a big fan of Pete Rose (especially the Pete Rose haircut) and think that he deserves a place in Cooperstown. He must first come completely clean though. If he does that, his past does not merit him being banned from baseball for life.
To this day, I still think of Pete Rose as the hardest working athlete of all-time. Rose took nothing for granted. This is how he acquired the nickname Charlie Hustle. His head first slides and all out effort were indicative of how much he loved to play baseball, and how seriously he took it. Despite his tarnished legacy, I still consider Pete Rose the perfect role model for how the game should be played.
Gambling on the game of baseball is clearly a terrible offense. Especially if Rose bet against his own team. But I personally think that Pete Rose was addicted to gambling. It took over his life, similar to those down and out souls who you see spending all of their money on scratch tickets or pumping quarter after quarter into a slot machine. An addiction is the only way that I can imagine that Pete Rose would desecrate the game that he clearly cared for so much.
That being said, there are many people who have struggled with addictions in the Hall of Fame. Mickey Mantle was a fall down drunk, and also smoked cigarettes until the day he died. Orlando Cepeda was a drug smuggler and was addicted to marijuana. Ty Cobb was an enormous racist and was probably addicted to drugs that don't even exist anymore. Finally, and this is purely speculation, but who's to say that there is not an athlete in the Hall of Fame already that used steroids in the early days but didn't get caught? Is Rose's crime any worse than these? Maybe. But I would argue that these people disrespected the game of baseball just as much. So where is the line drawn?
I think that the one thing keeping Pete Rose out of the Hall of Fame is his refusal to admit exactly what he did. We heard first that he didn't bet on baseball at all. Then that he did bet on baseball, but not the Reds. Then that he did bet FOR the Reds, but never against them. Pete needs to come completely clean, tell us everything, and then convey his remorse for his actions. If he can do that, I see no reason why the all-time leader in hits, games played, at bats, and inventor of the Pete Rose haircut should be banned from the Hall of Fame.