By: Barry Benintende
About 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.”
Pete 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 not.
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. Apparently not.
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 it first.
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 2004Category Clear Buck Weaver News Tags