Wednesday, December 16, 2015
Even I - whose hatred for Pete Rose burns hotter than a million suns - think MLB should relent and let the guy into the Hall
Posted by el duque at 6:55 AM
I used to hate the guy. The "Charlie Hustle" bit never fooled me. Rose was a thug, bordering on rat-hood, and when he got himself banned from baseball, I cheered. Those who argue that Rose only bet on his teams to win miss the point. He didn't wager on every game. When your manager is a chronic gambler - and he doesn't bet on today's game - he tells every bookie in creation that his team will likely lose. MLB was right to throw the book - no, the kitchen sink - at him.
But if you're putting members of the Hall of Fame through a morality test, good luck with that. Ty Cobb was an evil bastard. (They say he killed a man in Syracuse.) Babe Ruth was a whore and glutton. Ted Williams was priapismic. Maury Wills was a junkie. Wade Boggs was a sex addict. Mickey Mantle was a train-wreck. Willie Mays greeted at casinos, Orlando Cepeda smuggled drugs, Ferguson Jenkins toked, Tris Speaker fixed games - and let's not even think about the racists. For every saintly Roberto Clemente, there is a John McGraw, who tried to bribe his way to a championship. And there is also Charles Comiskey, owner of the Chicago Black Sox, who supposedly knew of his players plan to boot the 1919 World Series, making him just a culpable as Shoeless Joe. But MLB Commissioner Kenesaw Mountain Landis - himself a scandalized member of the Hall - let Comiskey off, rather than punish one of the guys who was paying his salary.
So this October, there was Pete Rose, by far the ugliest mook to ever set foot in a Fox Sports studio, jabbing Harold Reynolds with his elbow and then grabbing the guy's wrist, just to let him know he was fooling. (An old Nat Lampoon cover captured exactly what he would look like.) Here was a 74 year old baseball version of Uncle Fester - (no, in a movie, his character would be named "Scrappy") - getting one last chance at a sodium light, and you know what? I didn't feel the slightest pang of hatred. It was nice to see him again.
One of these days, while you're trolling the latest shots of Miley Cyrus walking her dog, you'll see a pop-up news blip. Pete Rose will have had a heart attack and died. Everyone will say how sad it is, how he was a great player but "flawed." Soon after, some Gammonite will write a column championing Pete's redemption, and like Miss America contestants crying at the end of the pageant, the owners of MLB will emotionally restore Pete's cold corpse into their eternal fold. Fuck them. Baseball is run by a cheap, vindictive tribe of old money heirs and heiresses, who skim everything from the top before even thinking about fans or employees. Nothing has changed since the days of Charles Comiskey. For all his foibles, Pete Rose was hardly the problem. And among his career achievements, Rose did accomplish what I consider to be the impossible
He ended up making me feel sorry for him. Imagine that.