Tuesday, March 20, 2007
Pete Rose Fails to Improve His Image Once Again
By now I think the majority of baseball fans are close to forgiving Pete Rose for betting on baseball. After all, he made a mistake—granted, a big fat repeated blunder of a mistake—but it is the actions Rose has taken since his lifetime banishment from baseball that concern me most, actions that continue to spoil his image and dirty the shine of his records.
It is difficult to claim Rose ever genuinely tried to recover what was left of his character and integrity after he was banned from baseball in 1989. Instead of fessing up or getting help, Rose decided to lie for 15 years. I marvel at the dedication and disillusionment it must have taken to hide such a damaging secret for so long.
He ceased to improve his reputation thereafter. In 1990, Rose was sentenced to five months in prison in Illinois for filing false income tax returns and withholding payments he received for memorabilia, autographs and horse racing winnings.
Even less impressive was Rose’s involvement in the World Wrestling Entertainment’s WrestleMania. From 1998 – 2002 Rose participated in fights and promotional commercials. Rose was inducted into the WWE Hall of Fame in 2004. At least it’s a Hall for something.
That same year, Rose officially admitted he bet on baseball. But the timing of his admission is questionable since it came when he was on a book tour promoting his autobiography, My Prison Without Bars. His announcement also came just days after the 2004 Hall of Fame inductees were announced.
Rose has most recently failed to improve his image due to his poor choice of merchandise now sold on his Web site (www.peterose.com). For only $350 you can own a personalized I’m Sorry Ball that reads, “[Your name], I’m sorry I bet on baseball,” complete with Rose’s autograph. You can also buy the I’m Sorry T-Shirt for $20, and sign up for the limited edition Pete Rose MasterCard – perfect for those bookies that take plastic.
Gimmicks like these cheapen the severity of his actions and make people like me question the seriousness of his plea to be reinstated. Unless the money is going to a gambling addiction recovery support group founded by Rose himself, I have to assume he is taking advantage of the profits.
(On a side note, I personally can’t wait for the Barry Bonds I’m Sorry Ball. For only $5,000 you’ll be able to own a personalized ball that reads, “I’m sorry I took steroids,” signed Barry Bonds.)
Ultimately, Rose’s post-baseball "career" is unfortunate; it’s too bad he couldn’t transfer his passion and work ethic from the field to his personal life. Now whenever sports writers or commentators or folks around the water cooler happen to mention Rose, his name is said in disappointment and clouded in judgment.
But part of me still hopes that Rose’s records and accomplishments outlive his mistakes, like they have for many of our beloved, legendary players.
INTERESTING SIDE NOTE
I am not advocating for Rose to be taken off the permanent ineligible list, but it is interesting to note that it isn’t really permanent at all. Of the 37 men that have been placed on the list, many of them were reinstated into the game after a short period of time. Some notables on the list include:
Mickey Mantle and Willie Mays – On February 2, 1983, Hall of Famers Mickey Mantle and Willie Mays accepted greeter positions at a casino in Atlantic City. The next day, Commissioner Bowie Kuhn banned both of them, placing them on the permanent ineligible list. In March, 1985, Commissioner Peter Uberroth reinstated both men.
George Steinbrenner – In an effort to get out of a contract with former New York Yankees outfielder Dave Winfield, team owner George Steinbrenner paid an admitted gambler $40,000 to “dig up dirt” on Winfield. Steinbrenner was given a lifetime suspension on July 30, 1990 by Commissioner Fay Vincent. Vincent reinstated Steinbrenner two years later. (Now what if that decision had stuck?)
READ ‘EM AND WEEP
All-time Major League records:
Career hits – 4,256
Most games played – 3,562
Most at bats – 14,053
Most singles – 3,215
Most total bases by a switch hitter – 5,752
Most seasons of 200 or more hits – 10
Most consecutive seasons of 100 or more hits – 23
Most seasons with 600 or more at bats – 17
Most seasons with 150 or more games played – 17
Most seasons with 100 or more games played – 23
Only player in major league history to play more than 500 games at five different positions: 1B (939) 2B (628) 3B (634) LF (671) RF (595)
Played in the most winning games – 1,972
All-time National League records:
Most years played – 24
Most consecutive years played – 24
Most career runs – 2,165
Most career doubles – 746
Most games with five or more hits – 10
Modern NL record for longest consecutive game hitting streak – 44 (tied for second all-time)
3 World Series rings – 1975, 1976, 1980
World Series MVP – 1975
1 NL MVP – 1973
2 Gold Gloves – 1969, 1970 (both for outfield)
Rookie of the Year Award – 1963
3 batting titles
17 All-star appearances