Tuesday, January 06, 2004

Pete Rose in the Hall Of Fame?

I don't know about you, but I am sick of hearing about Pete Rose.

Pete Rose has been banned from baseball for life because he was caught gambling on baseball games while a player and/or manager of the Cincinatti Reds. I am not a fan of banning people; but, if you are going to ban someone from sports then gambling on that sport might be the only good reason.

Every year around Hall Of Fame voting and announcement time, the Pete Rose question comes back. Should Pete Rose be allowed in the Hall of Fame?

Generally speaking, election to the Hall of Fame is based on your numbers. Inductees are elected by sports writers. I wonder what kind of numbers the average sports writer Hall of Fame voter has put up? I am not a sports writer, but let's look at my numbers:

2 Years in Little League Farm System
20 At-Bats
1 Hit

These are not Hall of Fame numbers.

I am not really qualified to judge a player's performance, based on my personal experience in the sport; but neither are sports writers. I'll bet my numbers are not that much different from the sports writers that receive ballots, though, so I am qualified to discuss the merits of Rose's election.

Let's look at Pete Rose's numbers:

3562 Games Played (1st All Time)
14053 At-Bats (1st All Time)
2165 Runs (4th All Time)
4256 Hits (1st All Time)
5752 Total Bases (6th All Time)
746 Doubles (2nd All Time)
1566 Walks (11th All Time)
1041 Extra Base Hits (17th All Time)
160 Home Runs
1314 Runs Batted In
198 Stolen Bases
.303 Lifetime Batting Average

These are Hall of Fame numbers. Someone with these numbers should make it to the Hall. The person with these numbers, however, is no more qualified for Hall election than me! He is totally unqualified. Why? Because he has been banned from baseball for life.

In a recent interview in Sports Illustrated, Rose tells the story of his continued efforts to be reinstated so that he can be elected to the Hall of Fame. I reprint the following dialog without permission:

"Mr. Selig looked at me and said, 'I want to know one thing. Did you bet on baseball?'" Rose writes. "I looked him in the eye. 'Sir, my daddy taught me two things in life -- how to play baseball and how to take responsibility for my actions. I learned the first one pretty well. The other, I've had some trouble with. Yes, sir, I did bet on baseball.'"

"How often?" Selig asked.

"Four or five times a week," Rose replied. "But I never bet against my own team, and I never made any bets from the clubhouse."

Well . . . there you have it . . . Pete Rose regularly bet on baseball games. I consider that to be in the category of corporate malfeasance. He was entrusted with a corporate holding, expected to generate profits with that holding, and he jeopardized the financial security of the shareholders with his (if not illegal) immoral behavior. This is like the Enron guys, and the WorldCom guys, and Neal Bush and the Silverado S&L. Sure, maybe not illegal, but it's morally repugnant.

Unlike those other guys, Pete Rose couldn't even nickel and dime! According to the article Rose lost "several hundreds of thousands of dollars. . . ." I always knew Rose was no mental giant, but now we learn the guy is a loser!

In the interview, Rose has the audacity to insist that he should be reinstated because 'they promised': "I've consistently heard the statement: 'If Pete Rose came clean, all would be forgiven,"' he writes. "Well, I've done what you've asked. The rest is up to the commissioner and the big umpire in the sky."

He also belittles others with compulsive behavior by saying that if he "had been an alcoholic or a drug addict, baseball would have suspended me for six weeks and paid for my rehabilitation."

So, he goes on, "I should have had the opportunity to get help, but baseball had no fancy rehab for gamblers like they do for drug addicts," Rose wrote. "If I had admitted my guilt, it would have been the same as putting my head on the chopping block - lifetime ban. Death penalty. I spent my entire life on the baseball fields of America, and I was not going to give up my profession without first seeing some hard evidence. . . . Right or wrong, the punishment didn't fit the crime - so I denied the crime."

Let's be clear about something: Pete Rose did not get the death penalty and he would not have gotten the death penalty if he admitted his wrongs! He is alive, nobody killed him. To be kicked out of your professional industry is not the same as being put to death!

He claims that because there was no rehab program in place, he couldn't ask for help! What crap! If there is no help in place, and you are the most famous baseball player in the world, you can make things happen by being honest. If you lie, you are a liar and you get treated like a liar. If Pete Rose stood up and became the poster child for gambling rehabilitation, there would be clinics all over the country for guys like him. Instead he became a lying liar lying to cover the lies he tells so he hopefully won't been seen as the lying liar he is known to be.

When someone is arrested for drug use, or tests positive for drug use, there is proof that they need help. They get help as soon as they ask for it. Rose hid his compulsion and lied about it, so there was no way for anybody to help him. When famous people stand up and talk about social problems, people listen. Rose never took the high road. He has always lied and snuck around and played at the back door and tried to weasel his way back into the game. He is an ignoble man, and the lifetime ban is perfect punishment for him.

I think we all forgive Rose his dereliction. That does not lift the ban.

I think we all agree that Rose needs help. He should get it. He's rich, he can afford private counseling, and 12-step programs are free! He should get help. When he gets help, that does not lift the ban.

It is important to remember that Pete Rose has not been banned from baseball forever, just for the remainder of his life. When he dies, the lifetime ban is lifted. When he dies, the Veterans' Committee can decide whether or not to elect him.

Now it is Hall of Fame time again. Should Pete Rose be allowed in the Hall of Fame?

No! Rose should go away. He's stupid and inarticulate and selfish and a bad influence on all of America. He is a liar and a cheat and a sneak and doesn't belong on television telling his lying lies about the lies he told when he was only lying to protect himself.

OK, so his wrongs are not as bad as Neal Bush, or all the employees of Arthur Anderson and Enron, but he did gamble on baseball while employed in the sport, and for that he has been banned for life, and that is a just punishment. He may or may not have changed. That is neither here nor there. He should go away and come back when he's dead. We'll discuss his reinstatement then.