Thursday, March 13, 2014

Oh the hypocrisy that is baseball

Rare Photos of Pete Rose

by: Dan Howard
Staff Writer

I just finished reading an excerpt from the book “Pete Rose an American Dilemma” by Kostya Kennedy which appeared in last week’s edition of Sports Illustrated. The well written piece described Rose as remorseful and apologetic about his actions while Reds manager from 1984 to 1988. The article went on to say how Rose apologized to every member of the Big Red Machine during a dinner commemorating the 25th anniversary of his breaking Ty Cobb’s hit record on September 11, 2010

Here are some of the notes I scribbled while reading the article. In Pete’s apartment he rents at Cooperstown N.Y. during the Hall of Fame induction ceremonies is a tee shirt that reads “Hey Bud tear down the Wall/Get Pete off Main Street and into The Hall”. Another artifact is an autographed baseball to “The Great Pete Rose. Love him, or hate him, you can’t ignore him.” Signed by “Mr. October” himself Reggie Jackson. I wonder how much dough the “Hit King” had to cough up to get “Sir Reginald” to sign it. I’m referring to my article last week that “Lord Reggie” requested seventy five bucks for an autograph to a local elementary school principal who’s trying to motivate his students to stay in school and keep away from drugs.

Speaking of drugs, in the mid 1980’s Rose was approached, as the article states, by a Reds trainer about using steroids. Rose claimed that they “were too late for me”, and elaborated to Mr. Kennedy about using steroids versus gambling, “To all the young kids out there, I’d say don’t do either one….but if you do the one I didn’t do, you have a good chance of hurting your body in the long run.”

In the quarter century since that fateful August afternoon when the late A. Bartlett Giamotti so eloquently stated in his banishment of Rose, that Rose had “stained the game”. The question I ask is that the same residue that was on Barry Bonds? Roger Clemens? Mark McGwire? Apparently not.

One of the eight Chicago White Sox players expelled by Commissioner Kennesaw Landis was “Shoeless” Joe Jackson. Jackson’s seemingly crime was guilt by association. Here are his stats from the 1919 World Series and you decide if he was attempting to throw the series. In the eight games against our Reds, Jackson led his team in all offensive categories, batting .375 with twelve hits in thirty two at bats, drove in six runs and hit the only home run in the series. Of the twelve errors the “Black Sox” committed, none were assessed to Joe Jackson. It’s never been proven that “Shoeless” Joe Jackson did anything to throw the World Series.

In 1947 then baseball commissioner “Happy” Chandler suspended Brooklyn Dodgers manager Leo Durocher for the season. Chandler was allegedly pressured by Yankee owner Larry McPhail, stating that Durocher had invited gamblers into the Dodgers clubhouse. Durocher countered the accusations by placing blame on McPhail for doing the same in the Yankee clubhouse. Not wanting to be someone to stain the legend of Happy Chandler, but McPhail was instrumental in getting Chandler the commissioner job and in a blatant case of “you scratch my back, I’ll scratch yours”, Chandler sided with McPhail and banned Durocher for his “association with known gamblers”.

Move ahead a few years to 1983; baseball royalty Mickey Mantle and Willie Mays were suspended by commissioner Bowie Kuhn for their association with casinos in Atlantic City, New Jersey. Mantle and Mays primary job were to be greeters and sign autographs. In his decision, Kuhn opined that a casino was “no place for a baseball hero and Hall of Famer.” Both Mays and Mantle were reinstated by Commissioner Peter Ueberroth in 1985.

Now the hypocrisy; jump ahead to today, it seems that baseball and casinos are practically synonymous. The new Yankee Stadium has the Mohegan Sun Sports Bar. The Detroit Tigers invite their guests to visit the Motor City Casino Hotel Champions Club at Comerica Park. Even our beloved Reds have an ad inside Great American Ball Park for the Horseshoe Casino in downtown Cincinnati, plus casinos consistently advertise during the Reds media broadcasts. Allow me to stress that no gambling is conducted in those locations at baseball stadiums. Did I mention that when the Mets opened Citi Field, Harrah’s casino was listed as a “signature partner”? Let me see if I understand this; it’s bad if the players associate themselves with gamblers or casinos, we assume they’re betting on the game, but as long as those establishments are pumping tons of money into the team owners fat bank accounts, that’s O.K.? Is baseball hypocritical of itself?

I wish to elaborate that I am not advocating gambling or casinos; I consider both a detriment to society. What Pete Rose did was wrong, steroid use is wrong, but where do we draw the “line of demarcation”? Does current commissioner Bud Selig reinstate Rose to the ire of the many purists who’ll cry that Rose violated the most sacred rule in baseball? Will the baseball writers wink at the sins of admitted steroid user Mark McGwire and eventually vote him into baseball’s most sacred shrine? Since both have sincerely apologized for the wrongs they’ve done isn’t it about time for a second chance? I defer to the wisest Man who ever walked the earth when He once said “Ye that are without sin, cast the first stone.”

Have a blessed week.

Dan Howard

Photo Credit: Sports Illustrated

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