Like a Bad Penny

Me with Kevin Millar - September 2003 (It was either this or a picture of Pete Rose...)

Me with Kevin Millar – September 2003 (It was either this or a picture of Pete Rose…)

In September of 2003 a friend and I went to a baseball card show solely for the purpose of meeting Kevin Millar and David Ortiz who were there doing signings.  At the time they were both new favorites of the fans and not the icons they are now but we knew they were special and wanted to share our affection with them.

It was a fun, if not relatively expensive, day and the memories from it include getting my photo taken with Kevin Millar (at the time my favorite player on the team) and getting to see Millar and Big Papi interacting off the field the way we would become used to seeing them on the field, like two kids just enjoying the heck out of where they were in life.

The friend I attended with was someone I met online (Hi Pam!) and this was our first time meeting in person. We’ve since become close friends but you never know how these things will work out. Would we get on each other’s nerves? Would we find each other weird? The moment I knew we were destined to be great friends was when, after we met the players and just were walking around the event, she stopped to talk with someone who was promoting the idea that Major League Baseball should reinstate Pete Rose. Pam, who is quite the soft, spoken, gentle soul, lit into this man and gave him a lesson in why she didn’t think he belonged there. I knew right then we’d be lifelong friends.

Any baseball fan can tell you what a polarizing subject Pete Rose is when fans start the discussion. I’ve witnessed an argument that turned into a broken friendship over this very subject. I wish that was an exaggeration but it isn’t. The argument became so heated that other unrelated things came out and before anyone knew what was happening we watched the friendship dissolve right in front of us.

I don’t know that I’ve ever met any baseball fan whose stance on Pete Rose was “I don’t care.”  (And please feel free to tell me you don’t care!) People seem to either absolutely not want him anywhere near baseball (Cyn raises her hand) or they bring up all of the other horrible people who are currently in the Baseball Hall of Fame (or in a position to be in the Hall of Fame eventually) and compare them to Rose.  “Is gambling as bad as being a racist?” (Say hey, Ty Cobb)  People bring up the players with domestic violence in their history, or the drug addicts or the players who collect DUIs the way we used to collect Garbage Pail Kids. Compared to their failings, Pete Rose defenders think gambling isn’t close to the worst a player in MLB could do.

Listen, I get it. Generally speaking people can be pretty terrible.  Including, if not especially, athletes. So if we’re looking for 30 teams in MLB to fill their rosters with choirboys we will be extremely disappointed. No one, least of all me, is expecting these men to be perfect. I’d just like the bar to be set a little higher than, say, “At least he isn’t a murderer.”

While I am certainly in the camp of fans who are happy that 2015 begins the era of a Bud Selig-less MLB, one of my worries about a new commissioner was how he or she (she, ha-ha…I crack me up) would treat the Pete Rose situation.

Earlier this month, new MLB commissioner Rob Manfred announced that Pete Rose has sent him a formal request asking that his lifetime ban be lifted. Manfred has essentially said that he’s going to go over the Dowd Report and Bart Giamatti’s decision and mull all of that over along with giving Pete Rose’s argument consideration. This all sounds perfectly fair in my mind. Go over the evidence presented and make a decision based on a request his office received. So even though I find it completely logical to do it, why does it chap my ass so much?

If I think about it long enough I can figure it out.  People are, for the most part, a forgiving group. Tell us your sorry and we’ll forgive you. Even if we never forget, more often than not you’ll get your second chance. So I think part of my concern is that Rob Manfred might be looking at Pete Rose, who’ll be 74 this month, and instead of focusing on what he did and that he agreed to the ban and then spent years denying he did anything wrong, he’ll think about an older man who only wants his accomplishments acknowledged and he’ll give in. And that truly annoys me to no end.

If you take a trip to the Baseball Hall of Fame (which every fan should definitely try to do) you’ll find that Pete Rose and his accomplishments are well represented there. Now I understand Rose and his supporters want is that plaque. They want his face cast in bronze with his Reds cap on and a brief bio below in that elite group of his contemporaries and those who paved the way before him. In my opinion, he should have thought of that before he knowingly broke what was at the time pretty much baseball’s most serious rule (and then, after agreeing to the ban, lying about it for years).

I know people aren’t perfect and I really don’t even believe in striving for perfection. As long as you aren’t a jackass, we’re good. But in Pete’s case he knew from the get-go that what he was doing would run him the risk of losing what he loved…baseball. And yet he still did it and then lied about it for years. I have no problem living in a world where Pete Rose isn’t enshrined in the Baseball Hall of Fame. ESPECIALLY because his achievements are there. What he did as a baseball player won’t be forgotten but neither will what he did to get himself booted out of baseball.  Fair’s fair.

Posted in 2015 | Tagged , , , , , , ,
8 comments on “Like a Bad Penny
  1. Becks says:

    1000% disagree. But I still love you.

  2. Sharpie says:

    Well sure, who can’t help but still love you, but I’m only going to 100% agree with you. I think a fair compromise would an HOF induction – posthumously.

  3. Glenn D'Alessio says:

    Gambling is a sickness as an addiction, and people like Daryl Strawberry, and now Hamilton get second chances. If Pete Rose tried to throw games he was in I would say keep the lifetime ban. If he didn’t, let him get into the hall of fame. Was he as bad as the blacksox? I don’t like being a liar, but as you admitted, how many choir boys are there?

  4. Glenn D'Alessio says:

    Correction. I don’t like liars, and try not to be one.

  5. Pam says:

    Did he know the rule?
    Did he know the consequences of breaking the rule?
    Did he break the rule?
    Should he go screw his sleazy self?

  6. Glenn D'Alessio says:

    Sleazy, yes, but addicted, not rational. Junkies know the rules, know they’ll probably go to jail, and die too soon, but they do it anyway. I wonder if he really thought he wouldn’t get caught?

  7. Pam says:

    Addicts manage to think rationally and quit. They really do. People have managed to quit smoking, drinking, using heroin, gambling, all those life-controlling addictions.

    I have never been in an MLB clubhouse but I have always heard that there is a big sign in every one that states that players caught gambling will be banned from the game for life. The rule is intended to be both deterrence — don’t do this!! — and punishment — if you do you will be banned!!

    If the punishment is rescinded after a period of time because, “oh gee, the poor guy was an addict and couldn’t help himself,” or because “that guy was worse and he’s not banned,” or because, “wow, he was really good and he’s suffered long enough,” then how is the rule ever going to be a true deterrent? How does it have any true meaning?

  8. Glenn D'Alessio says:

    Yes, sometimes a few addicts can act more rationally to kick a habbit, but usually it takes something that is so over the top for them, with Rose maybe getting caught. OK, so as Cyn wrote, he is represented in the Hall in plenty of other ways. I wonder what will happen if stroid and growth hormone users start to get in, or have some already. The problem is for the ones who get caught.

    I guess this is a different argument, but I imagine the burden of proof will be so onerous that the floodgates will open for letting people in from the steroid era, many of whom probably used and had better records as a result, and there will be the argument they were great players none-the-less. We cannot measure how many extra home rums, rbi’s and whatever else were a result.

    So I will revisit this argument relative to Peter Rose if this ever happens,since I don’t think he actually threw games he was in. Whereas steroid use may have actually effected the outcome of some games. If so, there will be, and maybe already are people getting in who through their cheating are ruining the ideal purity of these records. From that perspective Pete Rose seems to almost be singled out, however sleazy, by being denied for, yes, being a rule breaker of one of the few iron clad rules. However what is the purpose of the hall, to celbrate and honor baseball feats of greatness, or to police the players, be a deterance from their wrong actions, regardless to their baseball greatness. If it is the latter, then we need the rule of banning anyone who beat his wife, kid, or through making millions in baseball started incider trading in the stock market, or whatever else.

    Actually I don’t know what MLB hall of fame rules are. Maybe they ban people conficted on wife beating, child neglect, felonies and what have you?