Thursday, January 08, 2004

A Rose by Any Name - Still a Thorny Problem...

...And Still a Little Prick

Fortunately the initial reaction to Pete Rose's apology has been to take it for what it's worth: a self-serving, uncontrite, worthless and completely insincere bit of fakery. It's too bad the other apologies being volleyed back and forth are not subject to the same scrutiny: only in a game like baseball, where the stakes are so low, does there seem to be any indication people are willing to examine the true basis of the great American pasttime (which is, of course, apologizing.)

For a long time I felt that Rose had a point, in that he had a gambling addiction combined with a number of personality defects that were not taken seriously by major league baseball as a true psychological illness. On that point, I thought some mercy ought to be shown to him, at the very least an indication of some path for him to redeem himself so that in whatever self-help program or recovery program he chose to take, he would have a goal at the end of it.

But the incredibly smug title 'My Prison Without Bars' really says it all for Pete. He's done nothing, by his own account, to recover from his addiction. No treatment, no addressing it head on, and he still goes to the track. He has made no real acknowledgement of the essential problem of betting on baseball --- even if on your own team --- in that the very absence of a bet on his own team has a corrupting effect on the odds marketplace, and therefore erodes confidence in the integrity of the affair.

My standing solution for Pete has been a sort of life-in-exile: he should be allowed into the Hall of Fame for his accomplishments as a player, because as has been oft-wrote, there are players in the Hall now who've done and said and been far, far more reprehensible things, ranging from drug abuse (Fergie Jenkins, et alia) and cheating (Gaylord Perry et alia) to probable murder (Ty Cobb).

But you know what? The guy isn't starving. He's making a living as the "outsider", and at 62, if he can't bring himself to apologize a little more sincerely, then let him stay on the outside. Baseball doesn't need him, and relatively inconsequential honors like being a Hall of Famer aren't life and death issues. Let baseball put him in the hall after he's dead to honor its own history, but let him live in whatever cushy kind of purgatory he chooses to live in my his own instransigence. Organized baseball is not at all without fault in how this messy affair has played out -- is there a more self-righteous group this side of 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue than Major League Baseball owners? -- but that's not the real issue.

The real issue is when CEOs lie and steal and take $100 million buyouts from companies they've pillaged and shareholders they've bilked, when the nation's resources are being sold off to low-bidders, when $200 BILLION in your money and mine is being used to pay for a weird ideological reconstruction in Iraq that is in a great part going to line the pockets of the cronies of the pols in power -- man, a few bets on baseball games don't seem like that big a deal to me.

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