Wednesday, December 16, 2015
ROSE TO THE HALL IS THE RIGHT THING TO DO
Pete Rose has always been a hero of mine. Yes, I’ve been a Yankees fan since the day I drew my first breath, but as a Pee Wee, Little League, Babe Ruth, and High School baseball player, it was Rose who I most tried to emulate. His style of play represented the only way I wanted to play any sport – be it baseball, basketball or pick-up football. To me, it just made sense that you’d want to put your heart and soul on the line in the name of competition every single play.
Rose never strolled or slowly shuffled his way to first base when he was issued a walk or hit a soft grounder like some players we know. No, he sprinted and turned the corner, trying to prod his opponents into an ill-advised throw to the bag.
Every moment he was on the base paths, he was challenging the other team. He made sure they were never comfortable. When they did accept the challenge, he was in it full throttle, diving head first in either an attempt to get back to his base or advance to the next. I gotta believe that, as a kid, he never came home with a clean uniform. For that matter, I’m pretty sure he never left a game as a player without stains of dirt and grass all over the front of his jersey. For anyone that watched him play, you couldn’t help but admire his pure passion and resolve.
Pete was never blessed with great physical talent. There wasn’t anything special about his throws, or his power at the plate, or even his speed on the diamond. What made him a professional – a top of the line professional – was that hustle. It is what set him apart from his peers, and from others who came before him. Because I was always smaller than my teammates, and didn’t have the superior talent that others did, Pete Rose was proof that I could still set myself apart. He was the model I would have to follow if I ever wanted to get respect as a player.
I’ve always believed that Rose should be in the Hall of Fame. I still do. His accomplishments on the field certainly qualify him. Until this week, I also believed he should be reinstated to the sport he gave so much to. Until this week….
When Commissioner Manfred’s decision to not reinstate Rose was made public, I was somewhat surprised. Our fairly new leader had led me to believe that he was open to the idea of bringing Pete back during his first days as Commissioner. I wondered what could possibly have come out to slam the door shut on the former Phillie and Red. Then I read the bits and pieces of Manfred’s report that were being publicized and understood.
As Matt Snyder of CBS Sports wrote:
“The pertinent part of the five-page press release here is as follows:
"During our meeting, Mr. Rose told me that he has continued to bet on horse racing and on professional sports, including baseball. Those bets may have been permitted by law in the jurisdictions in which they were placed, but this fact does not mean that the bets would be permissible if made by a player or manager subject to Rule 21."
There's a footnote, too, which includes one of the most damning facts about Rose's case.
"Even more troubling, in our interview, Rose initially denied betting on baseball currently and only later in the interview did he 'clarify' his response to admit such betting."
So he lied. Again.”
Yep, in spite of knowing what it would take to finally get his name back in decent (not good, it will never be good) graces with baseball, Rose still bets on the sport and still struggles to tell the truth about it.
For someone who always went all-out to accomplish his goals within the sport, he couldn’t do the same to give the sport the chance to once again embrace him. I’m disappointed that someone I looked at as being so strong and determined on the field is so very weak off it.
Gambling is an affliction; a disease for many. But unless those suffering from that affliction have strong support around them, they rarely can beat it on their own. I can only surmise that Pete doesn’t have anyone helping him to help himself.
I’ll always think Pete Rose belongs in the Hall of Fame. While his outside-the-lines activities certainly inflict damage if allowed an association with the sport, Cooperstown is supposed to represent the great accomplishments – and those who accomplished them – between the lines. His level of play on the field, and genuine effort, cannot be questioned. The precedent has been set over and over again. A supposed murderer (Ty Cobb) is one of the most hallowed of plaques to adorn Cooperstown’s walls, and ironically is the man whose hit record Rose broke.
I agree with Mr. Manfred that Pete Rose should not be allowed back into baseball. To do so would damage the sport’s integrity, and the Commissioner’s job is to protect it. It is the right thing to do. There’s just one more piece to make it completely “right”; the baseball writers need to get Rose into their Hall of Fame. Baseball’s immortals are an incomplete group without him.
--Steve Skinner, BYB Senior Writer
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