Ruminations on Pennsylvania and Ohio

With the upcoming Pennsylvania primary poised to settle things for the Democratic nomination, it got me to thinking about that wonderful state. But now I have a question. How did the Phillies and the Pirates both end up in the NL? The Eagles and the Steelers are in different leagues. Every city that has two teams in the same sport places them in different leagues. Even the Cardinals and Royals are in different leagues and god bless ‘em but there ain’t much else that Missouri can get right. So, how did this happen? (That’s a rhetorical question because I have no idea.) Anyway, it kind of worries me because if Pennsylvania goes and gets it wrong like Ohio just did, we could be in for a tough electoral (and baseball) season. And their history doesn’t really inspire any hope in me.

Speaking of history, I’d like to thank Mr. Lung for bringing up a very important point in his recent post, Denounce and Reject. How is it possible that in today’s age of steroid fueled sporting achievements, a true legend is left out of the Hall of Fame because of an unfortunate addiction? Was Micky Mantle left out because he was a drunk? The ongoing Rose snub is probably one of baseball’s greatest injustices and deserves to be remedied.

Maybe later on when my mind is less scrambled I’ll write something that actually means something.

A

8 Comments

dude, that totally means something, it means that you don’t know your geography. pittsburgh and philly are two separate (not the same) cities. california has several teams in the same state in the same league (dodgers, giants, padres; a’s, angels) in case you didn’t notice.

you’re totally right about pete rose though. the man was robbed…and shoeless joe too. it’s funny how society evolves over time but baseball is always last to change. i mean, it wasn’t until the 1988 that wrigley field finally hosted night games…and the 90s before someone realized that Cincinatti was further east than St. Louis yet Cincinatti was in the Western Division while St. Louis was in the Eastern.

Wait til Selig is gone, wait another 50 years when we’re gone (if we’re lucky) then Pete will get in.

okay, five minutes have gone by and now i feel bad for calling you out on the geography thing. what i meant to say was:

It’s good to have you back, Al.

“How is it possible that…a true legend is left out of the Hall of Fame because of an unfortunate addiction?”

Because his particular addiction potentially threatened the FOUNDATION of the game in ways that Mantle’s alcoholism (or even widespread PED use, IMO) did not.

It is precisely the addictive nature of Rose’s behavior (contrasted with the realively rational decision of many PED users) that made Pete so worrisome in an industry predicated on public interest and confidence. Cheating to win is one thing, but even the appearance or hint of cheating to lose is quite another. Rose laughed about his behavior, flaunted it, never sought help of any kind.

I’m no fan of PEDS, but in my view, they exploited a largely complicit system, whereas Rose totally breached it – the way one might breach a contract – by cavalierly and repeatedly breaking baseball’s most serious, time-honored rule.

He is still universally recognized as a great player, and all his records are in tact, as they should be. He’s prominently featured in several Cooperstown exhibits.

As you know, people lose livelihoods all the time because of addictions. They lose loved ones. This ballplayer turned author lost a plaque and special day in his honor. He should consider himself lucky.

http://azdiamondhacks.mlblogs.com/

I hear what you’re saying, Matt, and I respect your opinion. I just don’t see what Rose did as “cheating”. He bet on his team to win. How is that cheating? I could see that point if he was telling his guys to throw the game, but it wasn’t like that. The steroid use, the greenies, all that, is cheating. It’s also self-destructive behavior that puts one’s body at serious risk. I see that as a bigger scar on the game overall–inadvertently telling kids that it’s okay to juice, to cheat. Pete Rose had a gambling addiction. Yes, that is definitely a serious matter. I won’t deny that. But within the game of baseball, his addiction never led to the destruction of his body or any other person’s for that matter. He was a competitor–a competitor who took it too far and yes, broke the rules, but not one who deserves to be ostracized from the game all together.

I feel the earth shaking Is there an earthquake Jeffy and Baba agree again. I hate Pete Rose!!! But He deserves to be in the Hall. He cared about the sport of baseball and was not quite the jerk that some of the high priced stars of today are. Just my opinion

Thx for your reponse, Jeff. I respect your opinion as well.

“He was a competitor–a competitor who took it too far and yes, broke the rules, but not one who deserves to be ostracized from the game all together.”

First, Pete hasn’t been ‘ostracized from the game altogether’. Quite the contrary. MLB recognized him at Fenway on the All-Century Team, and as noted, his records and place in the game’s history are copiously noted on the second floor of the Cooperstown museum. There’s enormous respect within baseball for Rose’s on field accomplishments, even among the folks denying him induction.

Instead of ostracizing Rose completely, MLB has denied him the specific honor of induction and official MLB employment for breaking it’s clearest commandment – you bet on baseball, your team, you get banned for life. As you know, it’s an old rule, enforced and reinforced by the leagues in myriad ways since 1920. Giamatti didnt invent the law for Pete and there’s no dispute (not now anyway) that Rose bet on his team regularly.

I sense you have more of an issue with baseball’s prohibition on gambling (ie the rule itself) than you do with it’s rather straightforward application in Pete’s case. I recognize our perception of gambling has undergone enormous change over the past couple generations, but in terms of justice and punishment, I dont think it matters all that much what I think about gambling, or what you think about it as much as what baseball explicitly had set down about gambling when Rose was managing the Reds.

We should also recognize and respect the practical rationale, quite apart from histrionic moralism, behind MLB’s unforgiving anti gambling stance. The old fogies understood from painful experience how uniquely dangerous “easy money” was to the fan’s confidence and the sport’s health. Contrast their draconian attempt to stamp out gambling (overall, quite successful, no?) with our namby-pamby, collectively bargained, drug policies and where that’s led the modern game. You’re right that no evidence has been made public proving Pete bet against his team, but the addiction of gambling was recognized, even then, as such a slippery slope that baseball didnt much care about that distinction, nor in my view, should it have.

Baseball didnt ban Rose on moral grounds or because his contributions werent immensely respected. He was banned because a visionary with integrity (Giamatti) reluctantly felt that the game he loved couldnt practically afford not to. That, painful as it was, it was better – for the game – to expose the corruption of an icon than to turn a blind eye and let it fester openly into default behavior around the league. That it was better – for the game – for the commish to police his own sport than for the media and the FBI to do it in his stead. ( I hope Bud Selig is listening.)

Pete Rose has successfully convinced alot of folks this is about certain baseball “people” against Pete Rose, but what it’s always really been about is the game. Pete Rose vs “the game”.

The case you present is compelling, Matt. I cannot dispute the foundation of your argument nor the circumstances in which this all came to be (Giamatti and his mission, Rose’s arrogance, my misspeak of ‘ostrazied from the game all together’).

For me, I don’t see his actions as challenging the integrity of the game because he didn’t do anything to change the outcomes of the actual games. And I understand that Giamatti had no choice but to punish Rose in some way–I just feel that the punishment was too much, especially now, when I feel that the integrity of the game certainly has been compromised with the likes of Bonds, Giambi, et al. These folks have definitely changed the outcomes of the game. What would the 2002 season be like if Barry wasn’t doing what he was doing? The NL West was tight that year, with the Dbacks, Giants and Dodgers all over 90 wins. What if Barry hit only 40 homers? Would it have made a difference? Who knows…when one really starts to think about how big a difference that mysterious ‘cream’ could have made, the what-ifs begin to multiply.

Tangentially, I must admit, when the Rose allegations came out, I was devastated–not because of the gambling (I didn’t quite understand that at the time) but because I didn’t like seeing a hero of mine trashed. Next to Ozzie Smith, Rose was my idol. Though I was a youngster at the time I knew enough that he had broken the rules and it hurt to see him out of the game. It is with that clear and present memory that I say what I say now. I’m not just defending Rose to defend Rose. When I see how the game has grown and evolved since those days, I notice how little people are fazed (or care really) that the game has been compromised with the insurgence of a steroid era. Instead of being upset that their hero Mark McGwire used PEDs, my little cousins want to be like him: big and strong. They want to hit homeruns like he did. These are the types of heroes kids have had to choose from in the last 15 or so years.

And that scares me.

So, in my opinion, the present day antics and methods of one-up-manship in baseball are far more serious than what Rose did. It remains to be seen, but most analysts agree that it will be nearly impossible to keep the likes of McGwire, Bonds, Clemens (still innocent until proven guilty but that will come soon I’m sure) out of the HOF.

Having said all of this, my point is if those guys get in, I can’t reason keeping Rose out.

I have to admit, Rose was never one of my favorites, so maybe that colors my opinion in ways I dont quite understand.

You mentioned game outcomes. While I consider Rose a wholly unreliable source on this matter, I agree there’s no clear evidence he affected outcomes, and I understand why people cut him slack for that. He’s also being punished not so much for what he did, but for hypothetical, downstream implications of his actions, which doesnt sit well with folks.

To them, I’d only say that actions needn’t result in tangible harm to be dangerous and unacceptable. Life’s full of examples like that.

In contrast to Rose’s misbehavior, which baseball saw as totally unacceptable but maybe not tangibly egregious, the steroid crowd has been denounced by baseball (ie egregious!) but PED use has been widely accepted for decades (by mlb, owners and MLBPA).

That’s the beautiful thing about the way Giamatti handled Rose. By applying previously established consequences to baseball’s least discrete transgressor, Giamatti isolated the problem reasonably effectively, and stemmed a larger potential threat to the sport.

Rose deserves acceptance and recognition for his play, but I dont feel he deserves to be honored by a game whose HOF is lined with famous and assorted a**holes, but which asks only one lousy thing of any of ‘em. You can drink, you can whor*, you can despise blacks or women or whites or gays, but for the past century it’s been cordially requested that members not bet on baseball.

Maybe it’s time to revisit that standard, but until we do, I say the sport is better off with Pete recognized but dishonored, on the outside looking in.

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