Monday, July 13, 2009

By Any Other Name

20 years ago next month, sure-fire Hall of Famer Pete Rose agreed to permanent ineligibility from baseball, in effect relinquishing his almost obligatory induction into the sport's HoF and rendering his long-time team, the Cincinnati Reds, unable to honor him by retiring his uniform number, among other penalties. All this stems from accusations that he bet on Major League Baseball games in which he was an active participant both as a player and later, as a manager. Consequently, after 15 years of denials, in 2004 he finally admitted to making monetary wagers in favor but never against his respective teams. (Some out there are not so sure.)

Recently, fellow blogger Xmastime accused the powers that be at MLB of hypocrisy when judging steroid users vis-a-vis the aformentioned Rose. Even in worse case scenarios, where the alleged may have indeed bet against their own team.

I disagree; the 1919 World Series "Black Sox" scandal being the most glaring of examples to bolster my point. But also, there's no way managers or players purposely making boneheaded moves at the same time and in a repetitive manner to achieve nefarious results can be comparable to someone juicing up and wanting to win, be it for themselves and/or their teams; and in the process raise individual or collective stats. Steroid use might be more detrimental to the purity of the sport, in so far as a drug-free, equal playing field among the actual participants is concerned, but it can't possibly exceed the implications and obvious damage resulting from gambling against your own team.

As for Rose...I sincerely don't know if his ban should be lifted. I haven't given it much thought one way or another, except to agree that he should be banned but unsure for how long. One thing is certain, if the ban is eventually lifted it probably won't happen in his lifetime. And for his readmission into the sport he may then have in his favor the collective guilt over the transgressions of the juiced players of this era to thank for. How 'bout that for an interesting twist?

Full disclosure: Ever since he purposely tackled the opposing catcher at the plate in the 1970 All Star Game, for all intents and purposes ending the man's promising career, and then responding in a glib and non-chalant manner to what he had done, I've strongly disliked Rose. "Charlie Hustle", my ass. Tell it to Ray Fosse.