Monday, September 13, 2010

"Put me down for $20 on the Reds"

Pete Rose was my favorite player when I was a kid.

Sandberg was my favorite Cub, but Rose was my favorite player.

At the time Rose was ban from baseball, I was 14 years old. I didn’t fully understand everything that was going on. All I did know was that my favorite player…the guy I tried to emulate when I played little league…was gone. And I was angry and sad.

I was at Wrigley Field in 1985 on a Saturday in September when the Cubs played the Reds. My dad got tickets and took me to the game hoping that we might see Rose tie or break Ty Cobb’s hits record. As I recall, Rose didn’t get a hit that game. But I got to see my idol play. He was a player who was not blessed with the greatest talent, but who ran out every ground ball and who played hard every inning.

And he apparently liked to gamble a lot.

And he gambled on baseball a lot.

Gambling on's one of the biggest no-no’s in the game.

For years I thought it was unfair. What was the big deal? Right? So Pete Rose bet on baseball, even games that involved the Reds. He would never bet against the Reds…right?

As time went on and Rose continued to deny that he had bet on baseball, I was perplexed by the lack of love he received from sports writers, baseball officials, and especially the commissioner.

In the same time, Rose’s behavior became more and more unusual. I started to waver a bit…maybe there was something more to what went on there.

Then a couple years ago, Rose finally announced that he did indeed bet on baseball and bet on the Reds on top of that.

But did he do that to clear a guilty conscience? Did he admit that because he was remorseful? No. He did it to sell a book. At that moment, I really started to understand what a slime-ball Pete Rose was. He’s no different than any of these jerks who took steroids, denied it for years, and when caught, then confessed. He’s no different than Jose Canseco admitting to cheating to sell a book.


This past weekend marked the 25th anniversary of Pete Rose passing Ty Cobb on the all time hits list. Bud Selig granted Rose permission to attend a ceremony at Great American Ballpark this weekend honoring Rose’s achievement. And I’m fine with that. If the commissioner were to start to waver on Rose’s lifetime ban? I have a problem with that.

As I have grown older, I have become wiser about some things. I fully understand the true problem with Rose’s betting on baseball and the dangers that it posed to the game. This along with his behavior since his ban has completely changed my attitude toward him.

Keep Rose out of the Hall. Keep him away from baseball. Let him try to make a quick buck by signing autographs in some booth outside of the Hall of Fame every July like some pathetic dope. Cincinnati can celebrate the achievement of passing Ty Cobb…but I hope they don’t celebrate the pathetic and flawed man who made that achievement. He’s no better than any of the cheaters that we have shunned over the last 5 years. (Of course, Ty Cobb wasn't much of an angel either, so maybe we shouldn't celebrate the achievement either).

And I hope we all can witness someone passing that mark that Rose set when he retired from playing 24 years ago.