Monday, June 22, 2015

Pete Rose

So the feds accidentally tumbled onto a 30 year old notebook that purportedly shows Pete Rose bet on games after all when he was a player? The media has gone wild. Surely, this is the last straw, final nail in the coffin, whatever, regarding Rose getting reinstated to Major League Baseball and being eligible for the Hall of Fame. Ain't gonna happen, they say.

Well, guess what? Looked at objectively, this doesn't change anything. It makes no difference whether Rose bet on his team to win as a manager or player. Betting on them to lose would have been an entirely different scenario. Even the most vehement anti-Rose folks have never suggested that ever happened.

And let's face it. Rose wasn't going to be inducted into the Hall any time soon anyway. He faced two major hurdles. First, though he says he keeps an open mind on such matters, it's highly unlikely new MLB Commish Rob Manfred was going to undo the action of one his predecessors, which had been honored by a couple more through the years.

Even if that happened, he still needed 75% of the "voters" to get into Cooperstown. For the most part, these voters consist of the BaseBall Writers Assoc of America. And they have to have been members for at least 10 years. Do the math. Some kid fresh out of journalism school doesn't just fall into being a beat writer for their local major league team. They have to work their way up for a few years. Then add 10 more before they qualify to vote. In short, most of these folks could be called "old-schoolers" set in their ways. There's no way three-quarters of them would vote for Rose even if he was eligible.

On a related note, few realize that Rob Manfred and MLB reinstating Rose is not theoretically necessary for him to become Hall eligible. The Hall itself is an entity independent of MLB and is not bound by whatver rulings may come out of the Commissioner's office. True, they've always "toed the company line" over the years -- but they don't have to. The powers that be at Cooperstown could declare Rose eligible for the Hall tomorrow if they wished. But even if they did -- highly unlikely -- that wouldn't help Rose with the BBWAA. If anything, such a move would likely alienate even more of them. It should be noted that Rose hasn't exactly curried favor with the stodgy folks at the Hall by having autograph signing sessions down the block when they conduct their hallowed induction ceremonies, but that's just Pete's little way of protesting. This is America -- he's allowed, and it shouldn't be held against him.

Yet while they continue to dig up 30-year old dirt on Pete Rose over gambling, yours truly still maintains he belongs in the Hall.

Oh, that's right. He lied. Well gee, I've never lied. Have you? Good grief, if always telling the truth was a prerequisite to being elected -- the White House and Congress would be empty buildings. Who's kidding who?

I don't much care that Peter Edward Rose had a gambling problem, or that he bet on baseball, or even his own teams to win. And yes, I get it that Rose might not be the most likeable person in the world for various other reasons. But it's absurd the all-time hits leader continues to be denied his rightful place in the history of the game.

He earned it over a couple decades with his play on the field. 4256 hits are 4256 hits. Ty Cobb's 4189 aside, that's roughly 500 more than Hank Aaron. 600 more than Stan Musial. 800 more than Derek Jeter. That's a huge differential over some of the greatest to ever play the game. But they were "nice guys" and Rose has been painted as a villain. The witch hunt continues after all these years.

What is ironic, if not downright hypocritical, is the Hall of Fame if chock full of drunks and adulterers that the "old school" folks voted in over the years. Ty Cobb was the first inductee and he was alleged to have once killed a man. But all that was OK. Then along came Rose to shatter arguably the most hallowed record in the game, but he's disqualified on ethical standards because he liked to gamble. The hypocrisy screams indeed.

As long as certain people have nothing better to do than try to throw more dirt on Pete Rose, maybe they should go back even farther and dig up the mountains of unsavory details on many of those that already have a plaque in Cooperstown.

And if that ever happens -- don't hold your breath -- perhaps the Hall should consider throwing a few of the bums out. Some of those guys made Pete Rose look like an angel.

In comparison, Rose has been made to twist in the wind for basically two reasons. The ever-rising tide of political correctness and media hysteria. They are joined at the hip. One cannot exist without the other.

In the eyes of yours truly, both represent philosophies of cowardice. They are afraid to speak bluntly about the obvious lest they -- horrors -- offend somebody somewhere.

Well, I for one am highly offended that Pete Rose continues to be denied his rightful place in baseball history.

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