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Home » Baseball, The Vine

The Vine: January 27, 2016

Submitted by on January 27, 2016 – 9:56 AM13 Comments
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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.

Shit King

Your Majesty,

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.

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13 Comments »

  • Leigh in CO says:

    Sarah for president!

    Thanks for a good baseball post to brighten up the bleakest days of winter.

  • bluesabriel says:

    Word. I think he should be in the Hall, period. I also think he should Shut Up, Already, but that's just because I find him insufferable.

    Dear Lord, is it Spring Training yet?!

  • Sarah D. Bunting says:

    So close. SO CLOSE.

  • S says:

    The steroid thing is a whole separate issue to me, because the same writers who were falling all over themselves about how exciting it was watching McGwire and Sosa try to beat Maris's record, and who gave Bonds more than twice as many MVPs as any other player, were all "Golly! Isn't it just swell how eating kale gives these players giant heads as well as hitting power? What a glorious time to be a baseball fan!" And NOW they want to act like moral guardians. As though being a scold about Piazza's alleged bacne is some kind of substitute for having draconian enough penalties in place so players don't use steroids in the first place. Which they still don't have, by the way.

    Baseball is on the hook for not dealing with the steroid problem when it BECAME a problem. Like they did with gambling and the color line, they ignored it until it became a PR nightmare. Then they had to ludicrously overcorrect (with the gambling, anyway) for something that never should have gotten out of hand in the first place.

    And maybe I'm cynical, but a lot of sportswriters seem to resent any player that came after the expansion era for not being their childhood heroes. This seems to affect baseball more than any other sports. You know, the magical time when no one played for money and no one was a jerk to the fans and Mays and Mantle were eternal boys, playing with an honor that doesn't exist anymore and being perfect role models.

  • Jack says:

    Yes, there are bad people already in the hall. Yes, there are cheaters already in the hall. But there is one rule, a single, solitary rule, posted in every major league clubhouse, that says "if you do this one thing, you will be banned from the game for life." He did that thing. He is banned from the game for life. In my opinion, a game can't put a guy in its hall of fame if that guy is banned from said game for life.

    I probably come off as some kind of moral absolutist, but what can I say, rules is rules. In my opinion.

  • attica says:

    Me, I'd hate to have to watch Rose sitting on the porch every summer with the other HoFers. If they go and give him a plaque, can they then banish him from Cooperstown? I'd sign up for that.

  • Kathleen says:

    Tanya Harding anyone? Anyone? She was a fantastic skater, she was the second woman in the world to last a triple jump in competition, but they redacted her from the record books like she never happened. Tanya was a different background than most skaters, she was married and God knows her taste in men was questionable at best. But she was a damn good skater.

  • S says:

    @Jack, and he should be banned from the game for life. But the Hall isn't the game. It's (theoretically) independent.

    And he's not the only HoF member who gambled on games they were a part of after Landis's decree. Cobb and Speaker fixed a game, which was discovered in 1926. Landis and Ban Johnson covered it up because it's one thing to ban the Black Sox, but two of the most famous, and best, players ever? He would have been treated with the same disgust Kuhn got when he tried to ban Mays and Mantle for being greeters at a casino. So there are gamblers in the Hall. First ballot.

    I also think Rose damaged the game more by inserting himself into the lineup long after he'd declined just so he could win some flashy counting records, than he did by gambling. But that's neither here nor there.

  • Bryan says:

    Coupla things here. First, it should be noted that while the BBWAA is certainly staking out very questionable moral high ground while punishing truly great players that definitely (Bonds, Clemens) or maybe (Bagwell) did steroids, they really have no say on the Pete Rose issue. The HOF board, not the BBWAA, decided that anyone on baseball's ineligible list was ineligible for the HOF. I don't think the BBWAA would get anywhere near the required 75% for Rose, but it's out of their hands.

    Also, the Cobb/Speaker incident that S refers to is far, far from a proven fact. The evidence that they fixed a game is pretty much the testimony of one disgruntled former player (Dutch Leonard) and came 7 years after the alleged fix. They probably DID bet on the game in question, but it's important to note that simply betting on baseball was not forbidden at the time.

    As for the Rose question itself, I think the HOF should change its rule and let him be judged. The voters are charged with evaluating players for posterity and that's what we should let them do, even if they've been pretty horrible at it.

  • Jo says:

    Wow, where have I been? I missed this revelation. I still think Rose should be in the Hall, for the reasons Sars listed.

  • OneoftheJanes says:

    Hey, I still think they need to induct Joe Jackson.

  • DensityDuck says:

    " I don't think the BBWAA would get anywhere near the required 75% for Rose, but it's out of their hands."

    It seems to me, though, that the BBWAA is very definitely acting as though the decision *is* in their hands…and that they're deciding "no" because Pete Rose is such a moral abberation.

  • radishcake says:

    @S "Golly! Isn't it just swell how eating kale gives these players giant heads as well as hitting power? What a glorious time to be a baseball fan!"

    My enduring love for your post, I totally agree. This sentence made me laugh out loud and remember Ken Griffey Jr's giant head from drinking Mr. Burns's nerve tonic in the Simpson's softball episode.