Tuesday, March 17, 2015

Pete Rose

           The problem with Pete Rose not being in the Hall of fame is a multi-layered one.. For the record, Pete is mentioned and has displays in Cooperstown, but has not been inducted as a 'Hall of Famer'.
            You cannot deny his impact on the game, his accomplishments, his style of play, his gamesmanship. One also cannot deny that he broke the cardinal rule. Broke it, period.

            Okay. We've all taken issue with the various things that he was alleged to do. Namely, betting on baseball. For many years, Pete denied each and every allegation leveled at him on this front. And who was asking about these allegations? Generally, it was sports writers. Pete would get belligerent in some of his responses to the same questions.
            So, after getting nowhere with his reinstatement attempts, he decided to write a tell-all expose on himself, called "My Prison Without Bars" in which he spends at least two chapters picking apart the now infamous Dowd Report. The same report which gathered evidence of Pete's betting on baseball, and the basis for Commissioner Giamatti's lifetime ban. Two chapters.
            In the next chapter, after railing against the report that said he bet on baseball, Pete admitted that he bet on baseball.
            He claims that he only bet on his team, and only bet on his team to win. Noble is his wagering.
            But, there's where I have a couple of issues...
            Let's try this scenario. You're a bookie. Every day you get a call from Pete, or his associate, betting $10,000 on the Reds to win. Every day, except for one. On that day, a certain pitcher is pitching for the Reds. Pete lays off that day, and picks up the next day with the $10,000 bets to win. Until the next time that pitcher's spot comes up in the rotation...
            True, Pete is betting on his team to win. But those non-bets are also sending a message to those who notice such things and patterns. While not directly doing so, he is essentially consorting with the gamblers. Is a non-bet the same as a bet against your team?
            And, following that same vein, let's say that you're Pete, and star outfielder Eric Davis is a little dinged up, could play today and give you 90% or give him a day of rest and have him 100% the next game. Or...knowing that the pitcher going tomorrow is the guy that you don't bet on, use him today instead...Or change your bullpen strategy because of the bet/non-bet on today's game.

            So it's not a simple did Pete bet, it's OK if he bet on his team to win, not to lose, etc. But did it effect his playing days?

            In the book "Pete Rose: An American Dilemma" by Kostya Kennedy, it is revealed that Pete lost a 'ton of money' on the 1984 World Series.

            OK, let's go back to Pete's playing days with the Big Red Machine. The manager, George "Sparky" Anderson was 'like a father' to Pete. What does Pete do in return? Well, in the '84 World Series, Sparky was managing the Tigers. If Pete lost a ton of money on the Series, he bet heavily on the team that lost, the Padres. Essentially, he bet a ton of money on his 'father figure' to lose.

            According to Pete's revelation (finally coming after many years of denial) Pete only began betting on baseball after his playing days were over. I don't believe him. I find it convenient that he was able to control his gambling impulses as long as he did. Pete's a gambler. Gambler's look for advantages. Who better to spot and gain advantages than someone involved in the game.
            It may be as simple as noticing an opposing player with a slight limp during batting practice. Or knowing that the opposing starting pitcher had a few too many at the bar the night before. Or it could be that he knew Johnny Bench hit that particular starting pitcher pretty well. Things like that. An avid gambler would find it hard to pass on that action.
            So let's say that he was eligible for the Hall of Fame balloting. Who would have voted for his induction? The baseball writers. The same ones that he was issuing denials to for a dozen years or so. They wouldn't have voted him out after the revelations of what many knew all along, that has never been done.

            Are there undeserving players in the Hall of Fame right now?
            Yes, I think. One or two that are undeserving, but were voted in by the players via politics.
            Are there people in the Hall of Fame that did things worse that Pete did?
Maybe. There are drunks, abusers and racists in the Hall. Some were horrible people that's true. But none that violated the sanctity of the game.      
            The racists may have hurled racial taunts, insults and epithets as quickly and as easily as breathing air. that doesn't make it right. And we all know that it took until 1947 to have a segregated game. But I'm pretty sure that the owners more than the players were to blame for that egregious happening.

            Right now, in his life, the worst thing that can happen to him is reinstatement into baseball. He makes more money by being the anti-Hall of Famer. he said in an interview that I saw that not being in the hall of Fame has cost him around thirty million dollars. Yet every induction weekend he sets up an autograph session on Main Street across the street from the Hall of Fame n the lovely hamlet of Cooperstown.

            But, at this point, we really cannot believe anything that Pete tells us. He thinks he's telling us what we want to hear. And some want to believe him that they may lose the objectivity. Admittedly, I have not been a fan of his, but that goes back to the 1973 playoffs and his fight with Bud Harrelson. But that shouldn't matter. The answer to the question that everyone has been asking him is right here in this text.

            Yes he bet on baseball. Yes he did it while an active player. Pete was active through the 1986 season as a player. He 'lost a ton of money' betting on the 1984 World Series. He was a 22 year major league veteran. He should have known better.

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