Saturday, March 17, 2007

The Burlesque of Pete Rose’s Ethical Doghouse

Looks like pretty small potatoes now, the overwhelmingly righteous and never-ending woodshedding of an American great in America’s national game. Michael Jordan gets a pass and Pete Rose is still in the principal’s office.

Peterosetime Looks like pretty small potatoes now, the overwhelmingly righteous and never-ending woodshedding of an American great in America’s national game. Michael Jordan gets a pass and Pete Rose is still in the principal’s office.
Gambling on your team to win every time they take the field.
Metaphorically sticking your chest out and hollering “my guys can beat your guys, any day of the week.” That was Pete. Charlie Hustle. Never outgrowing the schoolyard? Maybe, but it’s a schoolyard sport. 
Except for the illegal drug trade, sports betting is probably America's biggest, most lucrative unregulated business. Except for the concept of Christ on the cross, judging the ethical behavior of sports heroes is probably America’s biggest, most practiced unregulated hypocrisy.
Peterosebench Grown men spit and scratch their crotch and swear. Sometimes they even bet, sleep with women who are not their wives and vote Republican.
The Hall of Fame is a more likely place to find ballplayers of great talent then it is of great moral strength.
No matter that the great (but not as great) Bob Feller wouldn’t be seen in the same room with a guy like Rose, Pete
  • is the all-time major-league leader in hits (4,256)
  • is the all-time major-league leader in games played (3,562)
  • is the all-time major-league leader in at bats (14,053)
  • is the all-time major-league leader in outs (10328)
  • won three World Series rings
  • three batting titles
  • one Most Valuable Player Award
  • two Gold Gloves
  • the Rookie of the Year Award
  • and made 17 All-Star appearances at an unequalled five different positions (2B, LF, RF, 3B, and 1B).
In his active playing years, 1963 to 1986 (itself a record), Rose had 15 consecutive .300 seasons. In the most department (and baseball is, if nothing else, a game of records), he had
  • Most career singles - 3,315
  • Most career total bases by a switch hitter - 5,752
  • Most seasons of 200 or more hits – 10
  • Most consecutive seasons of 100 or more hits – 23
  • Most consecutive seasons with 600 or more at bats - 13 (1968-1980)
  • Most seasons with 150 or more games played – 17
  • Most seasons with 100 or more games played – 23
  • Record for playing in the most winning games - 1,972
Peteroseswing Pete was the only player in major league history to play more than 500 games at five different positions - 1B (939), LF (671), 3B (634), 2B (628), RF (595). But, of course, these are all merely Major League Baseball records. Over in his National League, Rose was the player with
  • Most years played – 24
  • Most consecutive years played – 24
  • Most career runs - 2,165
  • Most career doubles – 746
  • Most career games with 5 or more hits – 10
  • Modern (post-1900) record for longest consecutive game hitting streak – 44
  • Modern record for most consecutive hitting streaks of 20 or more games – 7
  • NL MVP Award (1973)
  • NL Rookie of the Year Award (1963)
  • 17 All-Star selections
  • Three World Series rings (1975, 1976, 1980)
  • World Series MVP Award (1975)
  • Two Gold Glove Awards (1969 and 1970, both as an outfielder)
  • Roberto Clemente Award (1976)
  • The Sporting News Player of the Year (1968)
  • The Sporting News Sportsman of the Year (1985)
  • The Sporting News Player of the Decade (1970s)
Rose’s 1975 playing year was outstanding enough that he earned the Hickok Belt as top professional athlete of the year and Sports Illustrated magazine's "Sportsman of the Year" award.
Peterosetoday Pete  Rose’s entire life has been devoted to two things, baseball and Pete Rose.
He’s immodest, served time for tax evasion, is not well educated, probably not all that comfortable in the drawing-rooms of the rich and famous, maybe picks his nose when no one’s looking and doesn’t go down all that well with the likes of crotchety old Bob Feller.
But Feller didn’t like Dwight Gooden or Jackie Robinson, either. He said of Robinson, that if he were white he would not have made the Majors, that the significance of Jackie Robinson's breaking the color barrier has been overestimated. He modestly claimed that his own (Feller's) accomplishments were more important than Robinson's in the history of the game.
“ He's tied up in the shoulders and can't hit an inside pitch to save his neck. If he were a white man, I doubt if they would even consider him big league material."
Both Rose and Robinson made the roster of Major League Baseball’s All Century team, which did not include Feller. Bob (who seems tied up somewhere other than the shoulders) certainly has a right to his opinion. Opinions are not open to criticism, being a personal belief or judgment that is not founded on proof or certainty.
Yet, if the National Baseball Hall of Fame becomes a collection of sportswriters' beliefs or judgments, (not founded on proof or certainty and the stats be damned), its electors become irrelevant. The Hall is not a country club, but a collection of the best players the game has known.
Not the ones who don’t spit and scratch their crotch and swear, sleep with women who are not their wives and vote Republican. There’s a place for that: it’s called the National Hall of Players Who Don’t Spit and Scratch their Crotch (NHPWDSSC).
But it is not the National Baseball Hall of Fame. Baseball writers, those holier-than-thou critics of the dropped fly and the muffed line-drive, the guys who judge the talents and salaries and ingestions of others’ talents, hold the key to entry. Protecting the integrity of the game? Give me a break. They're afraid to elect a man who holds 15 records and played in 17 All-Star games because he bet on the games.
Who belongs there more than Pete? Who even comes close? Tony Gwynn, Cal Ripken, Jr.? Give me a break. Keeping Pete Rose out only denigrates the Hall.
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Media comment; (Special note: the below are remarks of sportswriters-take that for what you will)