Wednesday, December 16, 2015

The lynching of Pete Rose

Pete Rose may or may not be a lot of things, but a couple seem indisputable. His 4256 Major League Baseball hits are the most of all time. This record will stand forever. Even the best hitters in modern times make WAY too much money to bother hanging around long enough to approach Pete's mark. Even if they could. Longevity in baseball ain't what it used to be.

The other is Rose was never exactly the brightest star in the universe. There have been times when he just can't seem to get out of his own way, and is made to suffer accordingly.

We all know Rose received a "lifetime" ban from baseball for betting on games, particularly games he was a part of. It has never been even remotely insinuated that Rose bet against his own team. That would definitely have been a conflict of interest and a big time no-no. But that has been well documented over the years and is not the point.

Way back in 1989, Rose submitted to this ban from baseball on the condition his case would be reviewed at a later date -- hopefully in a favorable light -- once the media driven witch hunt had died down. A plea bargain, if you will. He didn't have to do this. It's not like he was a serial rapist or mass murderer. He liked to gamble on a lot of sporting contests, but basically never hurt anybody. He, and whatever sorry attorneys he had representing him at that time, had miscalculated.

It would take a full 8 years before he got a "parole" hearing. Motion denied. Along came a new Commissioner, one Bud Selig. The ever gutless Bud man wouldn't even hear his case. Another 18 -- count em -- 18 years passed. In the meantime, bank robbers, kidnappers, and even the lowliest of lows child molesters obtained relief from their "life" sentences. Even Charles Manson got a couple hearings. But not Pete Rose. He had bet on baseball, dammit. The Holy Grail had been irreparably violated. Right.

And besides that, he had lied. Well gee. If we banned all the liars the good old USA would pretty much stop. No politicians would be qualified to hold office. Ninety percent of the media would be out of jobs. Prosecutors, cops, and defense attorneys? Are you kidding? Certain members of the clergy have despicably withheld their awful truths for years. Most of your friends would go away because they've all lied to you at one time or another. And you'd probably have to ban yourself, because -- c'mon -- you've done it too. So can we dispense with lying being some sort of unspeakable heinous crime? It happens every minute of every day. Who's kidding who?

Just yesterday Pete Rose finally got another hearing in front of a new baseball Commissioner, one Rob Manfred. The good Mr. Manfred rode the coattails of the above mentioned hapless Bud Selig for many years. At least Selig once owned a baseball team -- the Milwaukee Brewers -- so it's presumed he wasn't totally clueless when it came to the game itself, despite his many foibles when he was in charge.

Manfred was just a high-falootin lawyer in a suit lying in wait for his next big opportunity. And it finally came. No doubt with Budman's recommendation, the MLB owners approved him as their next Commissioner in January of 2015. Pretty much just another company man to take whatever heat might arise while the billionaires remain in the background. This was business as usual, and certainly no surprise. Far be it from such owners to ever consider making a truly unbiased objective person their point man.

So after those 18 years, Manfred finally deigned to hear Rose's appeal. Of course, it was a slam-dunk before it ever happened and a total waste of time. The fix had long been in, and remained. Motion denied once again.

Manfred would ramble on as to how Pete Rose wasn't truthful enough, and was still gambling. He hadn't learned his lesson, changed his ways, and therefore would remain "barred".

Yet one is left to wonder ---- Just what is the big deal about Pete Rose gambling after all these years? Like drinking alcohol, it's certainly not illegal. In fact, gambling is heavily sponsored and promoted more than ever these days.

Even discounting gambling meccas like Las Vegas, it's rampant most everywhere else. Every state has their lottery, countless varieties of scratch-off tickets, Keno, and an endless supply of other come-ons to the wagering public. One need not look far to find a local bookie that will take all manner of sports or number bets. Bars and offices routinely have "square" sheets, particularly on football games. Buy a square or two and hope your numbers hit.

Baseball isn't like that, you say? Balderdash. During the season, most newspapers, including the one that sponsors this blog, feature the odds, including over/under every day in their sports section. It seems the height of hypocrisy for some journalists to rail against Rose for betting on games when the very publication they work for has long been handicapping everything sports related under the sun. Name the game, and the odds are right there in black and white for their readers to see. Why would they print such a thing if they wanted to discourage gambling? It makes no sense whatsoever.

But for now, Pete Rose remains the poster child in Major League Baseball's kangaroo court. Another gutless Commissioner has weighed in and nothing has changed. To the surprise of nobody, Manfred took the easy way out. Keep the status quo.

Peter Edward Rose is now 73 years old. He has been in baseball exile for 26 years. When, if ever, he will get another "hearing" is unknown. But it's a pretty good bet, no pun intended, that he won't be around in another 26.

It could very well be Charlie Hustle will go to his grave never having taken his rightful place in the Hall of Fame. Besides his all-time hitting record, he was a 17 time All Star at five different positions. An MVP. World Series champion. The enormity of the numbers he put up on the field during his long and storied career scream for induction.

If I could advise Rose, I would tell him this.....

Stop sucking up to a system that was never going to give you a fair chance in the first place. No more apologies, because they make no difference whatsoever. Just go do whatever makes you happy and feel good about it. Screw the "man", because he screwed you in the first place and continues to do so.

Know that you might not live to see it, but your plaque will be in Cooperstown someday. It will happen eventually -- because it has to. When the stodgy old farts set in their misguided Puritan ways finally pass on and objective thinking people take their place -- they will right this long travesty of justice. Your kids and grandkids will be rightfully proud of what you accomplished finally being officially recognized.

Bottom line. Pete Rose has been lynched as a "bad example". Truth is, he never did anything that wrong in the first place to deserve the outrageous punishment that has befallen him ever since. A travesty indeed.

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