Thursday, July 30, 2009

Ugly Pete

How long have they been playing baseball?
About 110, 120 years.
Who has more hits than anybody else in all that time?
Pete Rose.
Put that Jackass in the Hall.

From True/Slant on July 28, 2009:

Pete Rose. Jackass. And Hall of Fame Worthy

Pete Rose is in the news again, which is never good news for MLB commissioner Bud Selig. (Or anyone who is a fan of comely coiffure, for that matter.) The recent chatter centers on whether or not the all time hits king should be enshrined in baseball’s Hall of Fame, despite his lifetime ban from the game. Baseball legend and Selig pal Hank Aaron thinks so and publicly stated as much, saying, “I would like to see Pete in. He belongs there,” which has prompted Selig to at least consider lifting the ban.

That would make Rose eligible for the Hall, but also for employment with MLB. What on earth is Selig thinking?

Here’s what we know on the Rose case to date: Rose gambled on sports and lied about that. He gambled on baseball and lied about that. He gambled on his own team when he managed the Cincinnati Reds and lied about that. He maintains that he always bet on his team and never against them, but given what we know about Rose, why would anybody believe anything that comes out of his mouth? Ever?

Going back to the days of Kenesaw Mountain Landis, the former judge turned baseball’s first commissioner, gambling has been the most taboo, verbotten transgression known to ballplayers. There is to be no gambling on baseball. And no fraternizing with gamblers. Essentially, if you don’t want to get hit by the train, don’t play on the damned tracks. Simple enough.

It’s the number one deadly sin.

Steal some signs? Gamesmanship, my silly friend. Doctors baseballs with a nail file or vaseline? Again, gamesmanship. And an advantage that could be easily rectified by diligent umpires in live game situations. Pop some greenies? Shoot some steroids? Hey, everybody was doing it!

Gambling? On Baseball? On games involving your own team? Indefensible. And deserving of the ban from ever participating in MLB in any capacity beyond buying a ticket to sit in the bleachers.

But what if Pete could be banned from baseball and still be enshrined in the Hall of Fame? The Baseball HOF is an independent animal from MLB proper, although the two share a cozy, hand in glove relationship. Per their website:

“The National Baseball Hall of Fame and Museum is independent of Major League Baseball, however it does maintain an excellent relationship with MLB.”

The HOF did not respond to my request for clarification via telephone or email, but my reading of the above is that, technically, the HOF could make Rose (or Shoeless Joe Jackson) eligible for induction and then let the chips fall where they may with the Hall voters. Theoretically, at least.

So, they could, I’m thinking, put a plaque in the Hall of Fame for Pete Rose, all time hits king and book-makers buddy. And an even bigger plaque next to it that reads: Banned for Life from Baseball for Gambling.

UPDATE: Shortly after posting this story, I did get an email note back from the Hall as follows: “Thank you very much for your note! At the Baseball Hall of Fame, we work very closely with Major League Baseball, but we are a separate entity. We are not owned by Major League Baseball.”

Again, that reads to me that they can go their own way on this matter.

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