Monday, June 22, 2015

Pete Rose Draws A New Line In The Sand

As the 2015 Major League Baseball season plays out, there have been plenty of storylines that have unfolded, however one may take the cake thanks to breaking news this morning. With ESPN's Outside The Lines revealing documents regarding Pete Rose's betting habits, the polarizing Charlie Hustle has sealed his fate. The path he chose is an ugly one, but it draws some interesting comparisons.

Since being banished from baseball in 1989, Rose has maintained that he only bet on baseball as a manager, and never while playing the game. The news from Outside the Lines shows notebook pages full of bets Rose placed while playing as a member of the Cincinnati Reds. Having bet on both his team and those around the league, Rose is now in a category all on his own.

I have always been a big Pete Rose supporter, and believe that his on field accomplishments have a right to be in the Hall of Fame. Today, only half of that equation remains true. 4,256 hits, 3,562 games played, and 14,053 at bats later, the hit king will never be enshrined in Cooperstown. Knowing he first had to be reinstated by MLB Comissioner Rob Manfred (a process that recently had gained momentum for Rose), the dream is all but dead.

Rose didn't use steroids, human growth hormones, or performance enhancing drugs (that we know of), but instead, he tried to publicly and continuously shame the sport he claimed to love. Caught for betting over 25 years ago, he made a habit of argumentative tirades against the sport, and continued to hide the truth. More a character flaw than anything else, the way in which he handled things will forever keep him blackballed by the sport.

Despite being looked upon less than favorably (to put it lightly) Rose finds himself all alone in the context of today's poor character players such as Alex Rodriguez and Barry Bonds.

Steroids have run rampant in baseball since the day Bud Selig decided to turn a blind eye and allow for the sport to reinvent itself. They continued to do so until Selig decided he'd had enough, and they will continue to remain a part of the sport until the gain is deemed not worth the punishment. While Bonds and Rodriguez are some of the latest poster boys, they aren't Pete Rose.

For those two, character has shaped the public's perception of them off of the field. On it, they all have performed at an elite level, and certainly belong enshrined in the Hall of Fame. Their career accomplishments may be tainted, and they may not have admitted to what they did, but baseball didn't enact and end all level of discipline.

Rose did something that Major League Baseball had long said was punishable by banishment from the sport. He then went on to spend the next 25 years of his life lying about it, trying to lessen it's severity, and make a mockery of a sport that had given him so much. Up against the knowledge that reinstatement was the first step to ever appear in the Hall, Rose instead chose the path of most resistance.

Continuing to argue in favor of his character, cut corners on where he went wrong, and deny the severity of what took place, his future is now over with baseball. Alex Rodriguez and Barry Bonds have a lack of morality and character because of how they went about a portion of their careers. Pete Rose overstepped a clearly defined boundary, and then continued to believe he was superior to that boundary. His accomplishments on the field may always be tied to his name, but because of his character, Pete Rose will never be tied to baseball.

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