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Mark Kriegel is Mean, and Sucked Me Back Into the Pete Rose Debate

July 28, 2009

 I have someone new to disdain after this gem from FoxSports’ Mark Kriegel. He’s an idiot, and he looks scary, too.Kriegel

 

 

 

 

On the Mark: Hey Selig, keep Rose out of Hall

 Once again, there is talk that baseball commissioner Bud Selig is considering reinstating Pete Rose.

 Say it ain’t so, Bud.

 I wasn’t going to weigh in on Pete Rose anymore because I think it’s a mostly a tired, old argument, but Mark Kriegel got my ire all up again.

I don’t care how many hits Rose has. And I don’t care how many alleged degenerates are in baseball’s Hall of Fame, which just happens to be the most sacred sports museum in the United States, maybe the world. Rose is a skell, and doesn’t deserve to be in Cooperstown.

Guess what, Mark? I care about how many hits Rose had. A lot of people do. And I do care about how many alleged degenerates are in the Hall because that points to precedent, which is a hell of a lot better way to determine who gets in than your stupid effing opinion. Also, “skell” is a word largely reserved to refer to homeless drug addicts. I don’t think Charlie Hustle is homeless.

The criteria for induction of prospective members are “character, integrity, sportsmanship and contributions to the teams for whom they played.” By “character,” voters are obliged to consider, not a man’s citizenship, but his conduct within the game. You don’t have to feed starving children. But you must have fidelity to the institution of baseball. And by that measure, Rose is an especially deceitful creature.

Kriegel conveniently omits the first two criteria, which are “player’s record” and “playing ability.” This according to the BBWA.

Plus, I’m pretty sure Ty Cobb like murdered a guy, so…

He’s not Shoeless Joe Jackson, whose banishment has become the subject of a historic debate. His accomplishments have not been excised from the record books. No one’s denying he’s the all-time hit leader. Still, even in post-millennial American, some ethical imperatives remain to be observed. Pete Rose bet on baseball while managing the Cincinnati Reds. He was so brazen as to place his wagers from the dugout. But worst of all, he had the gall to deny it all — in the most vehement terms, even going so far as to sue baseball — for 15 years.

Well, Shoeless Joe should be in there, too. Yeah, Rose bet on baseball. It was bad. It was stupid. It was wrong. But he’s still one of the best hitters to ever play the game of baseball. Putting him in the Hall of Fame will in no way take away any of the bad things he did. People will always remember that, but his enshrinement is a necessary step to recognize one the true greats of the game.

He’s been to prison for tax evasion. He was hanging out with low-life steroid dealers before it was the rage. He’s a liar, through and through.

Good lord. There are soooooo many ex-ballplayers and Hall of Famers who hang out with shady characters. Also, it shouldn’t matter if he’s a liar, this isn’t heaven it’s the freaking Hall of Fame! Since when did the Baseball Writers of America Association become the morality police? Never. They never did.

A recap, for the kids:

In 1989, confronted with overwhelming evidence based on the famous Dowd Report — detailing 52 instances in which he bet at least $10,000 on the 1987 Reds — he accepted his banishment. A year later, he went to jail. Upon his release, he became a full-time autograph hustler, a sports-radio loudmouth, and a pro wrestling heel.

Do you know how many ex-athletes become autograph hustlers and sports-radio loudmouths? For a lot them, their celebrity is their only marketable skill, like it or not. What the hell do you want him to do? People want to buy his autograph, so he sells it. Big deal.

Typical was this bit I cite from Wikipedia, an excerpt of an interview during the ’99 World Series:

Jim Gray: … the American public is very forgiving. Are you willing to show contrition, admit that you bet on baseball and make some sort of apology to that effect?

Pete Rose: Not at all, Jim. I’m not going to admit to something that didn’t happen.

Fine. Pete Rose lied…to Jim Gray, world’s biggest prick…but still, I’ll grant you that he lied. I’ll grant you that he bet on baseball games, but he still belongs in the Hall. He’s the all-time hit leader, and the all-time games played leader. None of that has anything to do with betting on baseball. And you’re a professional sports writer who has access to every source available and you used Wikipedia. You’re such a hack.

In 2004, in his second autobiography (the first, of course, categorically denied the baseball gambling allegations), he admitted to gambling on the Reds, but only to win. The book came out in January 2004, the same week Dennis Eckersley and Paul Molitor were voted into the Hall.

I am a little disappointed in the timing of it,” Molitor said at the time. “Does it take away from the current class? … In my mind, I think it does, a little bit.”

 

Well, it didn’t take away from that class. That’s just a dumb statement.

But nevermind Rose’s shamelessness. And nevermind, for the sake of argument, baseball’s Rule 21 which states that any employee of a major league club who “shall bet any sum whatsoever upon any baseball game in connection with which the bettor has a duty to perform shall be declared permanently ineligible.” Consider the nights that Rose didn’t bet the Reds. He might as well have been tipping off all the bookmakers in America.

“Nevermind” is not a word, it’s a Nirvana album.

Now comes the news from New York Daily News baseball writer Bill Madden, that some of the game’s most prominent Hall of Famers have lobbied for Rose’s reinstatement. Among them is Hank Aaron, who now also wants an asterisk by the names of the steroid cheats. Funny, just a couple of years ago Aaron — one of the commissioner’s close friends — did a video honoring Barry Bonds breaking his home run record.

Yikes. Now you’re taking shots at Hank Aaron. I’d watch your step, Mark.

Look, I understand how Aaron could feel nostalgic and sympathetic for a contemporary. I understand that a generation weaned on legal lotteries, video poker and Indian casinos may not fully comprehend Rose’s transgressions. But those who claim to hold the game dear — the commissioner first among them — should know better.

I hold the game dear. I think Pete Rose is a bastard. I also think he’s one of the greatest players to ever play baseball, and as such he should be in the Hall of Fame. No asterisk. No nothing. Putting him in the Hall of Fame will not erase any of his transgressions, but it will recognize the man’s good qualities, namely: Dude could rake.

Enough is enough. The Hall shouldn’t be the forum for a debate on moral relativism. Just for once, don’t let the liar win.

No one’s saying anything about moral relativism. They’re saying a guy’s morality shouldn’t outweigh his playing accomplishments when being considered for a museum mostly based on merit, no matter how much you preachy sportswriters want to cherry pick from the voting criteria.

Also, everyone constantly overlooks the fact that Pete Rose is peppered throughout the Hall of Fame with baseballs, bats, and jerseys that celebrate his accomplishments. So just add a plaque. It’s not a big deal.

 

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