The Vine: January 27, 2016
Assuming you aren't utterly sick of him, I was wondering if your opinion of Pete Rose has changed since it came out he bet on games not just as a manager, but as a player?
And does anyone think this is the end of the gambling revelations? And if all baseball fans passed the hat, do you think we could give him enough money so he never appears in public again?
Myself, I'm torn. Obviously, he should never have a baseball job again. But I'm increasingly coming around to the belief that Hall membership should be based on game performance and the BBWAA has a real self-righteousness streak that doesn't look good on them. I also bet (heh) that he gets in after he dies, like they did with Durocher. Some people just love that guy.
My opinion hasn't changed, because I just assumed that he bet on games as a player, so his finally admitting it didn't — to mix the sports metaphors here — really move the ball for me, feeling as I also do that the "admission" is kind of on the level of a false confession after an extended police interrogation. Maybe what comes out of Pete Rose's mouth is true, ever? Or maybe he'll say whatever he believes he has to say, admit to whatever he thinks the public or the commissioner or his lawyer wants him to admit to, if it'll get him off the permanently-ineligible list.
I think it probably IS the end of the gambling revelations, if only because "revelations," when most of us have been inferring since the H.W. Bush presidency that Rose gambled on everything from the late AL games to hermit-crab races to the over/under on snowfall, is a misnomer. I also think it doesn't matter, and has not mattered. People like you and like me who see the HOF as a hall of fame and a museum, which it is, and not a Good-Guy Gallery, which it ain't and has never been for one minute of its existence, have historically felt like putting Rose in the Hall is the correct acknowledgment of his accomplishments as part of the game, and does not have to be seen as endorsing his failures as a man.
Other people, the self-righteous people you mention — some of whom make a living taking un-nuanced positions and bellowing a certain number of column inches per month on capital-I Issues in baseball, and while the results of this make me impatient, I understand that these folks have jobs to do and editorial briefs to meet — will never reverse their positions on Rose as a cancer. A few of them really believe this, that the morals clause should apply to HOF voting. Some of them, though they're not going to walk us through this (and may not even see it themselves), hold Rose as a symbol of everything that's different from and therefore worse/less than the childhood baseball they have in amber in their heads. (I have compassion for that, too. My reaction to the news that the NL wouldn't consider the DH at least for a while longer was frank relief. The trick is admitting these biases.) Some others have had such a rock-ribbed, angry stance on Rose for so long that, even if they no longer feel as strongly, this is the brand, and Rose's increasing and increasingly desperate admissions to everything under the sun, residence in Vegas, reality show, etc. etc. make it nigh-on impossible for them to walk that back at this juncture.
I totally agree that the self-righteousness is ridiculous, in a way many of them don't seem to perceive when they sniff that they've left X or Y player off their ballots "for a year" to…punish him for the perception of steroidal impropriety, I suppose. And then they vote for the guy later. Not only is this self-importance hilariously disproportionate, it's also extremely childish, but then, here we are talking about it, and the guys who fall off the ballot don't get "The Lottery"-ed or anything.
I really have no idea when Rose will get in. I believe he will; I believe you're right that the BBWAA will wait until he's dead, a choice I disagree with, for two reasons, the first being the pettiness of it. Rose loves baseball. All he wants is for the game, the Hall to acknowledge him the way it used to do. He's stood on the outside for nearly 30 years now and he has hated every single fucking minute of that; he's an old man, just put the shit down already.
The other reason is that…there's a line in one of the epilogues to Fatal Vision where one of the prosecutors sighs about Jeffrey MacDonald's continued and tireless appealing that "the case is never going to be in a posture where" MacDonald accepts that he's never getting out, and I always think of that phrasing when this topic comes up, because what does everyone kind of agree on here? It's that we want the whole thing to go away, kind of, right? For Pete to STFU? Does…no one else see that the easiest way to put this to bed forever — after the initial firestorm of talk-radio pearl-clutching, something that will in fact end — is to put him in the Hall? No more appeals, no more goodwill tours, no more press conferences or revisionist memoirs; it's done. He's in. Nobody has to like it, but once it's DONE, nobody really has to keep thinking about it, either.
But one of the great things about the game and everything around it is that it has a way of letting you think you know a thing for sure and then changing it up. (As it were.) "Too bad we can't, cannot! keep Cespedes," I said glumly but with utter confidence 395 times in the last few months. Wrong! So I guess I'll see you back here in the comments in a few weeks when Pete Rose saves an armful of puppies (and a single kitten, tucked in his breast pocket) from a burning building.
Tags: Jeffrey MacDonald Leo Durocher Pete Rose rando shut up Lupica shut up steroids