Friday, July 18, 2003

A Working Class Hero Is Something to Be

Put Pete Rose in the Hall of Fame. There, I said it. Yesterday, I pointed out that I was "totally against Rose being reinstated". But now I think we should get Peter Edward Rose on the ballot and in the Hall as quickly as possible.

No, I wasn't swayed by Johnnie Cochrane's argument - although I have to say that if my best friend were Cochrane or last night's prosecuting attorney Alan Dershowitz, I'd quit my job and start robbing banks - but by the sentiment put forth by former players, the jury, and the 79% of ESPN voters who tapped the mouse in Rose's favor. Pete Rose has become something of a martyr, a hardworking kid who made good, made a mistake, and needs to be forgiven. There is a belief that there needs to be Justice for Pete Rose. People like Rose.

But what if people didn't like Rose? What if we were talking about Albert Belle, or Milton Bradley? What if he were a different color, or from another country? If Pete Rose had accomplished all of the same things in the same way, but had been a kid from San Pedro de Macoris, spoke very little English and had returned to The Dominican at the end of his career, been convicted of tax fraud and been accused of but not admitted to gambling on baseball, would there be this vast amount of support for his Hall of Fame induction?

By the way, did you see the part with Bill James? James had already been torn apart by Dershowitz, and had come across as an exposed pseudo-academic opinionated elitist in trying to defend his criticism of the Dowd Report, when Cochrane asked him this:

Cochrane: Are their any players in the Hall who had previously been inelgible?
James:Yes, there are the Negro Leaguers, and the players who got in from the Veteran's Committee.

What is the implication of that?! "Well, we let the NEGROES in, how can we keep out the gambling tax cheat?"!

Pete Rose is the hometown hero of Cincinnati Ohio, plays the People's Champion card well, and is up against Bud Selig, an easy target. Baseball is, in the end, an entertainment industry, and so if Pete Rose is who America wants, then give it to them. To me, stifling Pete and his supporters by making him a museum piece is a hell of a lot better than having him parade around as a victim of Baseball's tyranny. And then maybe the next time he gets busted or declares bankruptcy, he will be recognized for what he is, a lying, cheating criminal-with-a-gambling-problem Hall of Famer who has embarrassed all of Baseball.


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