Those who know me, know I'm very passionate about baseball. I love the game. Not sure why that it, but maybe it's got something to do with growing up in a state where the weather changed when the seasons changed, and come spring time the kids in the neighborhood I grew up in, were always ready for baseball. Whether we were playing it, or watching it, it mattered not. Spring time rolled around, and everyone was ready to play ball.
When my son was little, we lived in New York City. He was barely walking when I had him out there on the blacktop, pitching to him and showing him how to hold a bat. Come the time he was five years old, I had him signed up for Little League and was excited for his every game. Then the day came, when he came to me and said, "Mom, I don't want you to be mad, but I only play baseball because you love it. I love basketball, and I want to focus solely on that sport. I hope you don't get mad, but I'm not going to play baseball anymore." My heart sank for just a moment. How could my son not love baseball? Of course, I realized, what I had always known. He was going to grow up one day, and be capable of making his own choices. This was one of those choices that he felt comfortable making, and all I could do was support his choice. Of course, I would miss seeing him and I wished he had the same passion for the game I loved, because I would have liked to watch my favorite games with him, but he didn't. So he would spend his days at the gym playing basketball, and I would usually be watching the baseball games solo.
This article is not about my son, but the reason I began it with that introduction, has to do with choices and having to live with them. Sometimes in life we make choices and when we do, our decisions can be second guessed years later, but still we cannot go back in time to reverse them. So needless to say, if my son comes to me one day, and says, "Mom, why did you let me quit baseball, I was so good at that game." I would feel comfortable telling him that he was old enough to make a choice, and that after asking him if he had thought it through, that he had shared it was a choice he wanted to make. In general, when we make rational choices, and I felt this was one, I would be okay with telling him that I was accepting of his right to decide for himself how to best live his life.
In the case of Pete Rose, and his choice to gamble on baseball, he has suffered consequences as a result of that choice. Many feel that the consequence is too harsh, that consequence being ineligible to be part of Major League Baseball and subsequently be banned from eligibility into the Major League Hall of Fame. I have read that Pete Rose has said that he did not know the punishment for betting on baseball would be so harsh. Yet, in the article of August 14, 2013 written for ESPN by Steve Wulf, Don't feel sorry for Pete Rose the rule is clearly spelled out, as is the consequence. So his not knowing, means very little to me in any argument on his behalf. If he didn't know, he should have known.
I have also read where Pete Rose says he picked the wrong vice. Maybe he did. That's unfortunate. He was a stellar player. From what I can gather based on the stats out there he got well over 4000 hits, and he played in over 3500 games. He was at bat about 14K times. He was a superstar. Yet, evidence presented to the former Commissioner, Bart Giamatti, of the MLB in what is known as The Dowd Report showed that he gambled on games. He gambled on basketball, football and baseball. He lost over $67K in one month, and owed bookies for more that $200K. While Pete Rose denied having a gambling problem, like so many with a gambling problem do, he might have had one. It seems as though he did, based on the evidence against him.
At first I thought about the fact that if he only bet on his team to win, then what's the harm. Yet as some reporters point out, there is harm, because the games he didn't bet on might be seen by bookies as games to go against. Also, some of my followers on Twitter, were quick to point out that if he had money on a game, he might put in a star reliever and use all the resources to win that game, leaving little left for the next one.
Some folks, and many of my followers, support Pete Rose being forgiven. They site examples of other players who are in the Major League Hall of Fame, as having done worse things. For example, someone told me Ty Cobb almost killed a man. If integrity matters, then clearly there are some in the Hall of Fame who might not have been guided by the best moral compass. I am not here to judge anyone. I think we all make choices in life, where we might not be doing the most exemplary thing. Looking back at our lives, who among us can say we have a squeaky clean slate. Certainly not me. That being said, though I live with the consequences.
I don't understand all that goes into the voting by the Baseball Writer's Association of America. I find it complicated, a bit too complicated if you ask me. I also don't understand why if someone is banned for life, there are chances to be allowed back in. Banned for life, is well banned for life. Some say that Pete Rose should have submitted an application or petition to be allowed back in the league a year after he was allowed to voluntarily leave. He chose not to, for whatever reason. He has since petitioned the MLB to be eligible to be part of Major League Baseball to both Commissioners Vincent and Selig. Neither have answered the petitions. I don't understand why. If there is a petition made, why not answer it. If I were the Commissioner of the MLB, I would have no problem in saying that while it is truly unfortunate, "You made a choice you must live with." The reason I would be so stringent on this, is because it's important to protect the integrity of the game. Same as with doing anything else that violates the rules of the game. If you do not abide by the rules, then you must pay the price. Allowing someone to gamble on baseball, when they are a key decision maker in the outcome of games, goes against us all. It's an example that must be kept, because it's that important.
I'm sorry that Pete Rose is not honored for his achievements, because he contributed so much to the game. In a way, it's amazing that he's not in, considering that his being let in might produce revenue for Cooperstown. The problem some people might be having is if you allow others in who have violated rules, why not Pete? That's a good argument. Maybe the Major League Hall of Fame should be based on stats only, and that the commemoration to Pete Rose should include his rap sheet. That too with anyone else who performs so well, but cheated. Maybe that's the answer. Let everyone in who performed well, but include mention of how they are no longer eligible to be part of Major League Baseball because they dishonored themselves and the game.
I'm not sure I have the answers. I don't think it's good to cheat to get ahead. People do it all the time. I know that, but it still doesn't make it right. When push comes to shove, saying that you should have beat your wife instead, is really not remorse. It's not. I thought about what would I want to see Pete Rose doing at this point in his life, as I did some research for this article. I think maybe talking to kids about how wrong it was, telling people he's sorry like he has. That's the beginning. I have no problem with gambling. I just don't think he should have gambled on baseball. There are so many other things he could have gambled on, and I'm not sure he would be in the situation he's in if he bet on cricket, or something he didn't have a hand in. I would keep the decision as is. I'm sorry, but you make choices in life. This one was the wrong choice, and sadly if he's ineligible to be part of the game he contributed so much to, and that's a requirement to be eligible for consideration in the MLBHOF then he made his choice; one he must live with.
As I'm about to finish typing this article, I see a tweet from one of my most respected followers and it says, "He should be in. There is no arguing his stats as a player. The greatest hitter should be allowed in." I would agree with him, if the rules for eligibility were based on stats, but they aren't. This is where the problem lies. If you want him in, then you must change the rules of the eligibility for consideration and present your argument there. This would be the way to do it, and I could see a good case for amending the rules, and have them be based on stats and not subjectivity, of the writers. Yet, remember that in Pete Rose's case, he's not eligible to be in the MLB, so this condition would also need to be changed. Should it? You tell me.