On February 6th, I will be 65 years old. I share that birth date with three lesser known people; Babe Ruth, Ronald Reagan and Neil Kessler. Youíve probably heard of Ruth and Reagan, but not Kessler. The latter and I have been friends-----since the 6th. grade. Neil and his wife, Diane, will join me here in Las Vegas for yet another birthday; itís an annual event for us. I used to think 65 was a speed limit; now itís my age. But thatís OK; I still look 15 years younger than I am. Besides, I suspect the alternative sucks!!!
Story of the Week
Almost everything that can be written and said about this American tragedy, Pete Rose, has been written and said, including my feature article dated 6-13-02 on this website. I would like to put an exclamation mark on the subject.
Pete Rose is a disgrace to major league baseball. In 1989, he wrote the book "My Story" in which he vehemently denied ever having bet on baseball games while a figure in the game. He has spent the past 14+ years telling this lie. He is now on record as having bet on baseball while a participant in the game. His timing is perfect. 500,000 copies of his new book, "My Prison Without Bars", have just been printed for sale, and thatís just the beginning.
Iíll never forget the day he went on television, looked directly into the camera, and told the gullible American public that he "never had sex with that woman." Oh, wait, I temporarily had him confused with another upstanding citizen and role model, "Curveball Willie". You can readily understand how I could confuse the two of them; no matter what their actions, they both say what is most propitious at the time.
As a point of clarification, betting on baseball is not a crime. But it is a rule in baseball, and by virtue of same, the gameís participants must honor it. And even if Rose did not bet against his team (I wouldnít bet my life on it, pardon the play on words), he is still helping the bookies if he does not bet each and every game; when Rose laid off a game involving his team, it was a clear and distinct message that he felt the opposition was the best bet on that specific game. Also, whether he did or did not place his bets from the team clubhouse is superfluous; it doesnít matter where he did it if he did it.
Having made my share of mistakes in my life, Iím all for forgiving and moving forward. But Pete Rose, in my view, is a despicable human being. He knew gambling on games was against major league rules, but for 14+ years, he had us believe that he was innocent. He has absolutely no respect or appreciation for the hand that fed him so very well all those years, namely major league baseball. Pete Rose should be banned from any future participation in the game. He is now "coming clean" because he wants to be voted into the Hall of Fame, because he wants to manage again, and because he wants to sell lots and lots of his new book. Charlie Hustle is Charlie Hustler. To quote Phil Sheridan of the Philadelphia Enquirer, Pete Rose hasnít changed; only his story has.
OK, now Iíve banned him from baseball for life, the deal he agreed to years ago. Now for the flip-side. He is baseballís top hit-maker of all time; he hit safely an incredible 4,256 times. He compiled a lifetime batting average of .303 to go along with all those hits during his 24-year playing career. He played the game the way it should be played; no one has ever played the game with a greater passion and intensity than did Pete Rose. He was a bona-fide winner as a player. In 1999, Pete Rose was named a member of the Major League Baseball All-Century Team. And I named him to my all time fantasy baseball team; the latter is obviously the ultimate honor, far greater than the Hall of Fame, and you can read the article dated 3-6-03 on this website.
So how do you keep this guy out of the Hall of Fame? You donít! By virtue of what he accomplished as a player, Pete Rose clearly belongs in the Hall. However, if there is any proof at all that he bet AGAINST his team, either as a player or a manager, he should be hung from the tree nearest the main entrance to the Hall of Fame in Cooperstown.
Last Weekís Trivia
Who set a major league record with 24 hits in 14 post-season games one year? In that same year, he was MVP in the LCS. In 1986, Bostonís 2B, Marty Barrett, got 11 hits against the Angels in the ALCS, and 13 hits against the Mets in the World Series.
Trivia Question of the Week
Who holds the NFL rookie record for touchdowns? See next weekís Sports Junkie for the answer.