he's a liar and a gambler
By: Barry Benintende
the writer: "Barry Benintende is editor
of the South County Mail, located in Rogersville,
Mo. He is a lifelong San Diego Padres fan and will
not rest until the good names of Buck Weaver and
Joe Jackson are cleared."
Rose finally came clean. Or did he? On Thursday night,
baseball's all-time hits leader finally owned up to
betting on baseball, after only a shade under a decade
and a half. Nice.
Rose's half-hearted admission has his fans sobbing,
then screaming "let him in the Hall of Fame." I think
Rose was banned for betting on baseball. The fact that
he's admitted it does not make it better. The fact that
he was banned for life did not go away.
The fact that he lied, and made John Dowd's life miserable
all these years has not changed.
Dowd was the unfortunate man that compiled evidence
on Rose's gambling and issued a report. All that Dowd
got for doing his job was years of slander from Rose
and death threats from his fans.
John Dowd, if there is nobody else willing to say it,
baseball owes you more than Rose's feeble apology. You
are an honorable man. Rose is not.
Rose broke baseball's cardinal rule, and has to pay
for that. Plain and simple, the rules need to apply
to Rose like they would apply to a guy who hit .200
for a last place team.
Many of Rose's fans say he has paid his debt to the
sport he so loves. They say everyone is a fan of the
way he played the game.
Wrong on both counts.
If you commit murder and then plead guilty, that means
you're guilty of murder. If you steal and then admit
to stealing, you are guilty of theft.
Rose admitted he was guilty of betting on baseball.
That does not mean his debt has been paid or that he
is suddenly innocent. Then again, he wasn't innocent
on the field either.
As a player, Rose destroyed Ray Fosse's career, during
the All Star game. Playing to win is great, but colliding
at home plate in an exhibition game is cheap. "I'd run
through hell in a gasoline suit for baseball," he said.
Rose took the trust of his fans, his teammates and baseball
itself and betrayed that trust. He is guilty and deserves
to be banned.
But all this attention to a guilty, unrepentant man
takes away from those wrongly banned by baseball. Specifically
Buck Weaver and Joe Jackson.
If Rose is banned justly, Weaver is banned unjustly.
If Rose gets reinstated into baseball, Weaver deserves
Weaver didn't take a dime in the 1919 "Black Sox scandal,"
when his teammates threw the World Series.
All Weaver did was bat over .300 in the series and play
flawlessly at third base. For his incredible performance,
Weaver got banned for life for doing nothing wrong.
He spent the remainder of his life trying to clear his
name. The human incarnation of evil, Judge Kennisaw
Mountain Landis, would not listen. There are still people
actively lobbying for Weaver to be exonerated. I am
one of them. (For more information, see www.clearbuck.com.)
Weaver got a raw deal. Rose's deal was fair.
Jackson got banned for taking the gambler's money but
not throwing the World Series. His lifetime ban should
be lifted too, considering his life is over.
Jackson is the person many baseball experts call the
best hitter of all-time. We'll never know. He was banned
for life too.
If Commissioner of Baseball Bud Selig reinstates Rose,
he will do nothing to dispel the public opinion that
he is a pawn, willing to do what he is told.
Reinstating Rose would be the equivalent of telling
every kid that loves baseball that it's fine to break
the rules. That it is acceptable to lie about it too.
That it is fine to spread slander about an innocent
man. That it is fine to conduct your life in an arrogant,
unrepentant manner. Selig would be telling every baseball
fan that all of that is fine, just as long as you're
really good at hitting a baseball.
One of the things I've always loved about baseball is
the history that it has like no other sport. Part of
that history will be the picture of Rose sliding, headfirst
into third base. He earned the nickname "Charlie Hustle."
He earned every bit of the love his fans bestowed on
him as he played every game with maximum effort.
He also earned his lifetime ban when he placed his first
bet on a game.
If Rose is reinstated, baseball is less of a game. If
he is allowed into the
Hall of Fame, Cooperstown is a defiled cathedral. If
Rose is allowed to manage, Selig is every bit the puppet
he claims he is not.
Barry Benintende can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org
or by stopping by the office.
©Ozarks Newsstand 2004