A Thorny Issue

Tim and The ‘Mudge can provide much deeper insight on the topic of baseball than I ever can. However, for some odd reason, I am hooked on the discussions about the banning of Pete Rose from ever entering the Hall of Fame.

For those of you like me who know little about the history or passion of the game, Rose admitted to betting on games (including those he played in) and was ousted from the game for life. There is no question in anyone’s mind that he would be a shoe-in for the Hall if not for this transgression. The trouble, for me, with this permanent ban from the game is that I believe Charlie Hustle (Rose’s nickname) would rather have lost money on a bet than lose a game. That’s the passion that he played with.

Today, he’s busy signing autographs and watching the game on television. And baseball is worse without him.

USA Today’s John Saraceno captures a quote from Rose that, in my mind, shows Rose’s contrition and absolute passion to help make the game better — for the game, not for Pete Rose:

“I’m a teacher. I’m a leader; I’m not a follower. I watch two or three games every day during the baseball season. It drives me crazy when I turn on the TV and see some of these cities, see the empty seats. Every seat at a ballpark is for (a body) every night. That’s why they make ’em.”

“I don’t know,” he says, “but you’d have to think that I’m young enough to get a four- or five-year contract. Obviously, I could make more in some cities. … I don’t want to be arrogant, but if you own a baseball team and you don’t want to win or put people in the seats, don’t call me.”

These are the things that winners and leaders are made of.

2 responses to “A Thorny Issue”

  1. The Chronic Curmudgeon Avatar
    The Chronic Curmudgeon

    Couldn’t disagree more, big man. (Well okay… little man.)

    Rose cheapened the integrity of the game. Say what you want about his “desire to win” or rather losing a bet than a game… don’t you think that bookies and gambling interests knew that too? And if Rose bet on 6 Reds games in a row and then didn’t bet on them to win in the seventh, don’t you think these bookies would be going, “Wait, he must know something we don’t — why’s he not betting on this game? Guess we better bet on his opponents then.”

    Not only that, but I dispute your contention that Rose would rather have lost money on a bet than have lost a game. This is a guy who went to JAIL for tax evasion. He’d rather go to jail than lose a little money — so what makes you believe he’d choose winning a ballgame over losing money?

    Finally, when caught, the man lied for 14 years about it — and then when he DID finally come clean, it was with a half-assed, insincere acknowledgement that barely qualified as an apology… issued in a BOOK no less (as in, chance to make more money), and leaked the very weekend that Dennis Eckersly and Paul Molitor were elected to the Hall of Fame — thus stealing the thunder they deserved.

    Rose wasn’t sorry. He couldn’t even be bothered to pretend he was sorry. I used to be among those who thought Rose’s ban should be lifted, but I’ve since realized that Pete Rose will say or do anything, so long as it’s in his interest. There’s no sincerity there, there’s no integrity there, and if he were managing again, I would have absolutely no faith that he wouldn’t be betting again — maybe even betting on his team to lose.

    Rose was a great player — though he was a compiler whose vain pursuit of the hits record kept him in the game about 4 years after his ability to play it well had passed. But he’s a deceitful, unprincipled human being who cannot be trusted to uphold the integrity of the game (which needs all the help it can get in the wake of the steroid scandal).

    The ban is the right thing to do.


  2. Like I said, you know more about the game than I ever will. That said — as a fan, not as a purist — my belief is that the game needs more people like Pete Rose who just want to play the game.


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