The purpose of this article is to provide a follow up to an article I wrote a few weeks ago about Pete Rose, the former Major League Baseball player, who has been banned from Major League Baseball for life; thus rendering him ineligible from being considered for induction to the Major League Baseball Hall of Fame [ MLBHOF ].
When I first wrote about Pete Rose, I did what I could to educate myself about the circumstances that lead to the lifetime ban from the league, and felt that I was making a fair assessment, when I considered whether I thought he should be allowed back into the league. I learned from reading articles I would google, books I bought, or people I polled but there was one thing kept gnawing at me. I had never been there. I don't know what it was that compelled me to go, but I felt I had to see it for myself. I had to know what it was all about. I will be very honest, there was a part of me that wondered whether it was really that big a deal. I mean does it really matter if he ever gets in?
So I decided to head to Cooperstown, New York, to see just what the Major League Baseball Hall of Fame is all about. I'm sitting here, still in awe of all that I saw. I'm staring at my computer screen, wondering just how to go about capturing all the I felt, all that I experienced these past few days. I say this, knowing that one of my followers, thinks my first article was lengthy. So I'm trying to get this one done quickly, so I can just never have to hear that again. I mean I've read some lengthy articles in my time, and I never thought my articles would be called lengthy, but that's exactly what was said about my last one. [ So far I'm lofty and I can write a lengthy article ... ]
I can't do it. I can't write about all I shared in a nanosecond and get it all out there. I don't know how. I want to tell you about the wrong turn I made, that lead me to be at the tip of New York, only on the wrong side. I want to tell you how I woke up at 3 am and drove in the wee hours of the morning just to get to Cooperstown by dawn. I want to tell you about how when I got to Cooperstown, there is a town before the town which is confusing as anything and how frustrating it was when I was in and out of the first Cooperstown without any clue of where the museum was. I want to tell you about my hotel and the amazing comforters on the bed. Most importantly, I want to tell you that, I love baseball. Now more than ever, I love baseball. With all it's imperfections, and all it's flaws which as far as I'm concerned those flaws and imperfections are what makes baseball a lot like the country I love. It's not perfect. Neither are we. Yet, we seem to strive to set an example, and we seem to have the best of intentions.
I arrived at The Landmark Inn which is located at 64 Chestnut Street, in Cooperstown, New York on Thursday morning. The first thing I noticed once I got to my room were the books about baseball on the nightstand. One was filled with trivia questions about the game, the other with historical facts about Cooperstown. After dropping my bags and washing my face, I walked up to town in search of the MLBHOF. I was excited to see all the American flags that were flying brilliantly around town. It was chilly and I was walking quickly, wishing it was a bit warmer. Other than that though, there wasn't anything wrong. Baseball was in the air, and I was loving it.
When I got to the front desk, I let the receptionist know that I was there to do research and I had an appointment. I was lead to the library and introduced to the person I had shared emails with about the purpose of my visit. I was told the rules and protocol that I was expected to follow. These rules included using pencil only, keeping my bags over in the corner away from where I would be sitting, and of wearing white gloves. I did exactly as I was asked, because I was asked to do so. I wasn't sure why I was asked to wear white gloves, but I assumed there was a good reason. I wasn't sure why I was expected to use pencil only, but I assumed there might be a good reason for that, too. I figured that when the rules were created, as respects to the library protocol, there were reasons for them.
So the librarian brought me all the files I had asked for. If I told you how amazing it was to be sitting there with files that contained articles about Pete Rose, and his early career. I read about his time in the minor leagues. I read about his desire to be lead off batter because he felt he hit better when the bases were clear, as opposed to when they had base runners. I read about his desire to make it in the big leagues and about how happy he was that he would finally be able to have a bed, because apparently in the minor leagues that was not a guarantee. I felt as though through the articles I was reading, I was getting to know him. I saw how he passionate he was when he spoke about his desire to make $100,000 a year. I saw how his salary increased to $750,000. I read about the potential riots at Shea Stadium and I read about how the authorities in New York City were issuing warnings to fans, when the Reds were on their way, back in the day.
I read about how his first wife felt about his womanizing. I read about how he used to have more than one girlfriend and referred to that as 'juggling' and I read about how he thought nothing of it. I read about how so many of the writers couldn't stand him. I saw words that writers used to describe him which were in alignment with 'egotistical' and 'cocky' and there were many articles about how he brought his fate on himself. I read about how players like Johnny Bench didn't seem to feel sorry for him. Seemed like he was a pretty cocky guy, who didn't have any problem making enemies.
My like or dislike for Pete Rose is irrelevant though. In fact, I don't really have any dislike for him at this point in my life. I don't know him. I know of him, and I know what I've read. Still though, I know enough to feel equipped to be able to make an informed decision about whether he should be eligible to be inducted into the Major League Baseball Hall of Fame.
Here it is. There are rules. He broke them. He knew better. Does it suck that he's not in there, yes. It sucks for his fans, and for the Hall itself. Yet, based on the rules he is not eligible. The way I see it, the question is what is a fair rule for violating the MLB 'no gambling' rule? I think that it is fair as is. The rule is as follows:
Major League Rules - Rule 21
21 (d) Betting on Ball Games ~ Any player, umpire or club or league official or employee, who shall bet any sum whatsoever upon any baseball game in connection with which the bettor has no duty to perform, shall be declared ineligible for one year.
Any player, umpire or club or league official or employee 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. [via Source @USATodaySports article August 25, 1989 which is in the files in the library in Cooperstown, New York ]
You see the rules? They are quite clear. There is a reason for these rules and while I think that some may argue that the eligibility should be based solely on a player's stats, the current rules are not. The current rules are include a permanent ban if you bet on baseball games you are in any way involved in. Mr. Rose should have known better.
Say what you want about players who do performance enhancing drugs another time. That is a separate issue, to me. Say what you want about the rules for eligibility being solely on stats, especially since other players have been thought to have been racist. One thing though, a racist player who was racist when racism was more the norm doesn't hold much water to me. That's like saying a guy was horrible for treating his wife like she was property when she was legal property. We should not judge our ancestors on today's rules, just like we should not be tried in an archaic system. Do I think that the rule for gambling on baseball is too harsh? No, I don't. I do not think there should be any gray area. I'm sorry if he had a problem, and I'm sorry he is not in, but he broke a very serious rule and sadly unless those who are in a position to change the rules, and believe it makes sense to do so, then it should be as it is. If you say to me, "Based on stats alone, should Pete Rose be in the MLBHOF, the answer would be affirmative. Yet, those are not the rules. You don't like the rules, you can write to the MLB Commish and ask that they be changed. Yet, why would you do that? Why should we ever permit betting on a sport that you are involved in? It's something that should not be allowed, and if you do it, you should be permanently banned from the league. There are other games to bet on, and you should NEVER bet on your own. If he bet, but didn't bet on the games he was influential on, he'd only have been banned for a year. Yet, I think what happened here is the more the League learned the more the nature of the problem was understood.
Let me ask you, if he was in jail for tax evasion, would you still think he should be there? Maybe he got lucky. Respectfully, I'm not in the majority, as it seems tat 98% of folks polled, seem to think that Pete Rose should be inducted into the MLB HOF. I'm not one of them.