I believe in honesty; not just failing to lie, but actual honesty - actually going out and TELLING you what the GOSPEL truth is, whether it makes me look good or not, makes you happy or not, and damn the torpedoes and consequences.
In that, I'm probably a lot more like Peter Edward Rose, Sr., the longtime player and manager, than I would care to admit or even know.
However, I've seen a Rose interview on YouTube where he says of crashed catcher Ray Fosse, "Sure, I asked him how he was...then I spit on him and left." (Here it is - http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=i3_-28IMOh4&feature=player_embedded)
So - full disclosure - I HATE the(expletive deleted). We clear? I don't give a DARN that it was a clubhouse fight, not Rose running Ray Fosse over in the All-Star Game, that ended Fosse's career - it doesn't matter, because the classless Rose should never have even considered running Fosse over in the first place. Pete Rose is exactly the opposite of what Major League Baseball needs to ever be associated with.
So...Take my bias into consideration - PLEASE. Be SURE to understand, at the end of the article, that it was written by a pure Hater Of Rose, all capitals. That will help the argument's credibility - you'll realize that, hey, this guy did his homework, took the worst possible scenario AGAINST his own argument, and Rose fans won't be able to muster a credible reason why I should look the other way if Pete's plaque goes up.
I'm not going to repeat, ad nauseum, the arguments that have been made pro Joe Jackson or anti Pete Rose. I'm not even going to condemn the Hall-Of-Famers that spoke out, wanting Rose's lifetime ban, shortsighted though those men are, at least on this issue. Lord forgive me, I just called Henry Aaron, amongst others I love, "short-sighted", sigh.
I'm certainly not going to debate whether Rose did or did not bet on Reds games (that's an admitted and established fact) or whether or not he lied (he admitted that he did, so that's that). Pete Rose bet on baseball games involving teams that he managed. No arguments there, right?
I'm not even going to adhere to MLB's Rule 21, which is CONSPICUOUSLY posted on ALL MLB clubhouse walls and states; "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."
I don't think anyone can disagree with or misinterpret Rule Twenty-One (appropriate that blackjack's best number should lend its' title to MLB's foremost and strongest gambling rule). If Mister Selig is short-sighted enough to reinstate Rose, he has thus directly broken a publically-written rule of the "sport of gentlemen" he purports to rule.
What I AM going to do is pose you a scenario that SHOULD cement Rose's lifetime ban for even the die-hard Rose buff, the Charlie Hustle booster that thinks Ray Fosse was in Pete's way. I am going to make Pete Rose's SON wonder, if only for just a microsecond, if Peter ever placed a bet...and then MADE the Reds LOSE that game - and it will be beyond a shadow of a doubt.
Ready? Take a deep breath with me, and let me set it up thus;
Question; How many games did Pete's Cincinnati Reds lose by one run while he was managing?
Answer; in 1984, he lost 4 by 1 run. In 1985 (the first year he ran the team full-time), the Reds lost 17 1-run games. In 1986, they lost 21 by one run. In 1987, 15.
"Wait," you shake your head. "Why do you only care about one-run losses?"
Easy. A manager can easily influence a one-run game; a poorly-matched pinch-hitter, a word of bad strategic advice or a suspect bullpen move, and that game's GONE. Can't argue that fact.
I could have taken ALL Rose's losses, but, to be absolutely fair, let's make it a "worst-case" scenario, fully biased against my case - one-run losses ONLY, even though a manager could easily influence a THREE-run lead either way. Still air-tight, huh?
Now, to be COMPLETELY AIR-TIGHT, the Reds actually lost 19 one-run results in 1988, and 15 more in 1989, but Tommy Helms lost enough while interim manager during those years, and, since I can't prove how many 1-run losses ROSE had, I'll leave '88 and '89 COMPLETELY out. That's THIRTY-FOUR MORE one-runners that I've just tossed out (for a grand total of ninety-one!) More than fair to Mister Rose.
So, the provable totals; 4+17+21+15. That equals 57 one-run losses that I can PROVE to Rose's record. Even so, that's more than a third of a season.
Can anyone argue, never mind straight-faced, that Rose NEVER BET ON A SINGLE ONE OF THOSE ONE-RUN GAMES?
I'll bet you my kids' college fund to a wooden nickel that, if we ever get public hold of Rose's records, Pete bet on at least ONE of those one-run losses.
I'll further bet you, double-or-nothing, that Rose bet the Reds to lose at least once.
Can't argue against it, can you?
It's just not possible.
Baseball requires the highest degree of honor from its' Hall Of Fame members. Their conduct must be BY THE RULES, with very little wiggle room.
Moreover, to take the Hall seriously, I, as a devoted fan of baseball, require that those members be held to an even higher standard than players that didn't make the Hall. Steroids? Forget it. McGwire's "perfectly legal" andro (same stuff, different needle) scandal is likely to derail his Cooperstown bid. Keith Hernandez still gets hell for his cocaine use back in St. Louis. Heck, some fans are still mad at Wade Boggs for cheating with Margo!
So, at this point, I would be well within my rights to get all the way up on my extremely high horse and say, "It's a fact. Rose chucked a game for money," and demand that the Hall keep him out, based on Rule 21 alone.
However, since Pete's already talked himself into Strike One (and some would argue Strike Two because he lied about it for so long), I'm honor-bound to give him two more strikes - a chance, all he ever asked for in his career, an at-bat, a lead off first base, a run at a catcher "standing on the train tracks".
Okay, Pete. Here it is. Commissioner For A Day Dewdney is offering you a high-and-tight fastball; two swings at it.
Let's play the game;
One. If Rose can prove, by producing his bookie's records, that he never bet AGAINST his team, then I'll take the first bite at the crow.
(Even though I'd have to be a FOOL to believe a bookie, I bet - there's that word again - that Pete Rose's bookie kept those gambling slips. Dave Winfield's bookie did).
Cough 'em up, Pete. I'll even get the FBI to guarantee immunity from prosecution - if the statute of limitations hasn't already expired (I'll, er, bet that it has...)
Two. If MLB's owners, by a majority vote, wish to reinstate Rose (by suspending Rule 21 in its' entirety for one day only, no special treatment for anyone, as Rose says he wanted during his career), then Shoeless Joe Jackson goes into the Hall the same day.
Pete for Joe.
Both were banned under Rule 21 (or the equivalent of their day). Supporters of BOTH players argue, with different degrees of success, that neither deserves their fate today.
Okay, Pete Rose fans, I'll bite. If Charlie Hustle is as honest as he claims to be, then let's let the paperwork back him up. A truly honest man would have nothing to fear, and would move heaven and earth to get those records into the light.
Come to think of it, were he innocent and able to prove it, wouldn't Pete have done just that - LONG ago?
Whoops. Got that sinking feeling in the pit of your stomach? You know, the one where you got backed into a corner, ambushed, and just realized, "Oh, no...there's no way out of this one." I apologize for the ambush, but that's where this whole thing leads, doesn't it? That last question seals it - why didn't you trot out the records, Pete?
If I were innocent, NEVER bet on a game I lost by one run, then boy, I would have been trumpeting that fact from the top of the Carew Tower in downtown Cincy - and loudly enough to reach Cooperstown without a bullhorn. I'd have doubled that bookie's profits to get those betting slips to a newspaper and authenticated.
Pete did just the opposite.
For once, he ran away like a scalded dog.
He doesn't get in...and anyone who helps him, supports him, now...is at least guilty of being blind to the facts, and is, at worst, encouraging future athletes to bet on their own games, knowing full well that, once you do it for one guy, the rest have to get the same treatment.
"Ban me for twenty years, just like Pete Rose," is what the next Commissioner to deal with this issue is going to hear, "but I'll see you in the Hall Of Fame once I done my time."
Now THAT'S a Pandora's box I am just NOT ready to open, and I will not stand by if it does.
Not that Bud Selig gives a crap what one angry Canadian (who needs them anyways, right, Bud? Let's move the Blue Jays to Omaha) will do if Rose goes in, but I will never buy anything MLB again.
I will buy tickets - and that's it. I will categorically refuse to buy MLB apparel, will not shop at any retailers that advertise on MLB telecasts, and will not, unless dead from hunger, even buy so much as a stadium hot dog...
...because a man has to have his principles.
Rose had his. He said, "Don't stand on the tracks when the train's coming." That means that Pete believes that you've got to be able to take it when your actions have consequences.
Rule 21 says that you're GONE FOR LIFE if you bet, in any way, shape or form, on a game you're involved in. No appeal, no conditions, just GONE FOR GOOD.
The train's been rolling over Pete Rose since he met with Bart Giamatti, the last of the real commissioners (with apologies to Fay Vincent). Giamatti, a wise, gentle and learned man, and a tremendous fan of baseball, the single best thing to ever happen to our game, did exactly the right thing - ejected Pete Rose.
Let that train keep rolling. This is one case where the line needs to be drawn, and the "men of honor" who run this sport must show their resolve, their determination, that this game shall not only BE clean, but it shall be SEEN to be clean by all - or else it will be presumed to be dirty, and the sport cannot survive that.