Friday, September 17, 2010

Moral Indignation

Conversations not heard.

"Take first base, Mr. Jeter."

"Thanks, but it didn't hit me."

"That's mighty honest of you, Mr. Jeter."

"Just doing the right thing."

If the player in question had been some nobody on the Kansas City Royals, would there be so much discussion of this incident? Hardly. But the bigger the players in this drama the more sanctimonious the outrage. I'd like a nickel for every one one of these commentators who'd like to lump Jeter in with PED abusers. Talk about holier than thou. And talk about Yankee-baiting.

* * * * * * * *

Pete Rose was honored by the Cincinnati Reds the other day and, naturally, the subject of his candidacy for the Hall of Fame was the real topic. Former teammates such as Mike Schmidt continue to agitate for his eligibility, which would be tantamount to his election. As long as Bud Selig remains Commissioner, which by some accounts won't be that much longer, Rose will not be eligible. Who knows what a new Commissioner might do?

I've been on record (who knows which one or who, other than myself, is keeping it) for a long time as opposing his eligibility. Not because he is a jerk. Heaven knows there are plenty of those among the enshrined. No, I am opposed because he broke one of the cardinal rules of baseball, was caught, and admitted it, at least to Bart Giamatti. Period. Lately, some have put forth the argument he bet on baseball as a manager, not as a player. This argument simply does not hold water. He bet on baseball games in which he was directly involved as a member of a team, albeit as management. His actions called into question the fundamental integrity of those games and, at the time he was caught, he agreed. His gambling probably preceded his retirement, i.e., when he was an active player, but does not change the fact that he violated the trust necessary for any public sporting event as an active participant in major league baseball games.

I take solace in the notion that Rose's violations were revealed at the dawn of an era of revelations about all sorts of other cheaters. The Bonds and Clemens of the world created an atmosphere that won't help Rose achieve his election to the Hall, at least not as long as those who bore direct witness to their behavior have votes. Eventually, some veterans committee made up of Schmidt and other apologists may succeed in getting their old pal in. Let's hope not because as much as records matter in baseball, the game has gone on without Rose and will continue to. Fans can identify who hold the all-time hits record whether or not he is in the Hall. He's still listed in any encyclopedias of baseball. That will have to suffice.

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