By Kevin Aherne (@KAherne17)
He was a baseball machine. He played in more games (3,562) and earned more hits (4,256) than any man in baseball history. He owns three World Series rings, three batting titles, two gold gloves, and an MVP Award. He played in 17 All-Star games at five different positions. They do not make players like Pete Rose any more... but yet, he does not have a plaque in Cooperstown, and baseball has turned him into an outsider, forcing him to watch the game that made him an idol, from afar. But I think it is about time that we change that...
It has been almost 24 years to the day since Major League Baseball permanently placed Pete Rose on its ineligible list. In those 8,756 days, we have seen a big change in the composition of character and mettle within our professional athletes. We have grown patient and learned look the other way in regards to the flaws that our superstars possess, but yet Rose sits alone atop a mountain of disgust and disdain from baseball, media, and sports fans alike. It seems that Pete Rose will never win his case in the court of public opinion.
This week, Charlie Hustle added fuel to his own pyre, making the following comments on Pittsburgh's airwaves during an interview with 93.7 The Fan:
“You have to understand, I don’t call these guys to do shows, they call me. And of course with all this steroid talk and the 12 guys being suspended and A-Rod appealing, they want my input because I’m suspended for life. Hey, everything is a different case. I made mistakes. I can’t whine about it. I’m the one that messed up and I’m paying the consequences. However, if I am given a second chance, I won’t need a third chance. And to be honest with you, I picked the wrong vice. I should have picked alcohol. I should have picked drugs or I should have picked up beating up my wife or girlfriend because if you do those three, you get a second chance. They haven’t given too many gamblers second chances in the world of baseball.”
A lot of people have admonished the Hit King for those comments, and I do understand why; it is generally considered bad form to make light of domestic assault. However, in this case, Pete Rose was dead on.
We are in an era where a defensive lineman can drive drunk, kill a man, and be welcomed back to his team weeks later. We live in a time when a pitcher can beat his wife in public, and not even miss a game. Even more relevant, an All-Star can openly admit to violating the rules of baseball, and not only will he be forgiven for cheating, he won't even face punishment. The days of personal and professional integrity in sports are behind us. Accountability and leadership have become less important to sports than image and marketability.
I certainly do not condone what Pete Rose did as manager of the Reds. Gambling on baseball, especially from a position of control, is one of the most egregious offenses one can commit. However, from a moral standpoint, we have grown to tolerate much worse. Pete Rose has done more for baseball (good and bad) than anybody in history not named Babe or Jackie, so continuing to blacklist him is damaging to both baseball and its Hit King.
So, it is time to drop the ban on Charlie Hustle... or maybe just raise our moral standards instead.
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