In an interview with USA Today on Thursday, just a block away from the National Baseball Hall of Fame, baseball's former most wanted man, Pete Rose, voiced some thoughts on the current PED scandal.
While Rose made sure to compare and contrast his transgressions to the cheaters of today, the all-time hit king sprinkled in some true reason into a debate that borders on the inane and ridiculous more often than not.
Among Rose's quotes in the piece, his reasoning on why steroid users are roundly disliked among baseball fans was very measured and logical:
"But the most important thing in baseball — the history of baseball — is the stats. I did nothing to alter any stats. I did nothing that would (tick) Babe Ruth off. I did nothing that would (tick) Roger Maris off. I did nothing that would (tick) Ty Cobb off. So I guess my question would be — wouldn't it be nice if you could talk to Roger Maris or Babe Ruth? Hank Aaron won't talk about it. Those are the guys whose records have been assaulted by steroids. Not my record. And if someone ever got 4,257 hits that was linked to steroids, I'd have something to tell you about it."
Outside of using the forum to defend himself compared to steroid users, Rose has a point.
In the NFL, most recently in Denver with defensive star Von Miller, performance enhancing drugs are part of the game. When a player is suspended, the violation is dealt with and the sport moves on quickly. Sure, in the hometown of the particular offender, fans will be upset. However, the sport does not harp on their offenders, instead using protocol to handle the situation.
In Major League Baseball, partly due to Rose's point about statistics and the history of the game, fans take steroid use and cheating personally.
The history of the game, from Maris chasing down 61 home runs in 1961 to Henry Aaron catching Babe Ruth with home runs 714 and 715, the historical numbers live in infamy. Thus, when players like Mark McGwire, Sammy Sosa and Barry Bonds emerge to shatter those numbers, fans take it personally.
Right or wrong, the game of baseball is in love with it's history. For older generations, it severely impacts the way steroid users are viewed.
More often than not, steroid and PED lines are drawn upon generational gaps. Younger fans, growing up in an era that featured nothing but PEDs and steroid talk, are numb to the process and more interested in the current game. Older fans, growing up in an era of stats that were supposed to mean something, find it difficult to reconcile the state of today's sporting landscape.
Heading into the latest round of Biogenesis fallout, picking Pete Rose to be the voice of reason for anything, let alone cheating in baseball, would have been a strange proposition.
Yet, in a world where Alex Rodriguez is compared to a gangster (via the New York Daily News), Pete Rose stands above the fray as a logical voice in an illogical case.
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