Thirty-two years ago today, Bart Giamatti banished Pete Rose. In the name of honor and integrity and all that’s good about baseball and could be again, the commissioner showed Rose the door, then slammed it shut behind him.
Nothing has changed regarding Rose’s status as a baseball non-person. Even as everything has changed.
I know, I know. I hear you. Half the ball fans are permanently weary of Rose talk. The other half were barely born by Aug. 24, 1989. But Rose’s ban remains the story of my (gulp) 33-year career here. Nowhere in any sport has the holder of a sacred record -- who just happens to have been from here, played here, managed here and in some precincts remain beloved here -- ever been excommunicated from his sport the way Rose has. His circumstances are as unique as the hits record he holds and seems likely to hold forever.
But it’s more than that. The way the lords of the game have handled Rose demonstrates lots of traits, none of them noble. Hypocrisy, vindictiveness, pettiness. Smallness. Baseball’s ongoing ban of Rose long ago crossed over from valiant into small.
I wonder what Giamatti would think today of the game whose integrity he tried to protect 32 years ago.
Soon enough, betting machines will be as plentiful as popcorn at Major League ballparks. Teams already rake in money from casino advertising and partnerships.
Teams cheat and get away with it. The Houston Astros still have the World Series trophy – that “piece of metal,’’ according to Rob Manfred. Players cheat. How ridiculous has the tolerance of cheating been? A few months ago, Rays pitcher Tyler Glasnow blew out his arm, an occurrence he blamed on not being able to load up his fingers with sticky gunk. His lessened grip, he said, caused the stress on his arm.
And we haven’t even discussed PEDs. The all-time homers leader will forever be a suspected juicer. Isn’t that wonderful? Great for the integrity of the game.
Rose didn’t “reconfigure’’ his life, at least not according to Manfred, and Selig before him. Pete’s biggest enemy has always been himself. But in the context of what has happened to the game since 1989, his ban seems overly harsh and boundlessly out of step. And small.
He’s 80 now. Pete Pan has a little trouble negotiating stairs and his Popeye forearms have shrunk. He’s diminished. Same as the game that so piously refuses to reinstate him.
Baseball can’t pardon Pete now. After three decades of strident, self-righteous hypocrisy, that part of the game is over. Rose will enter the Hall of Fame posthumously, if at all.
Meantime, the Astros still have their piece of metal, pitchers still get indignant when asked to prove they’re not gunking up baseballs and the betting machines keep getting installed within ballpark walls.
Selig and Manfred had chances to show mercy and grace and, after all these decades, a little common sense. They whiffed. We're all so very proud of them.
Now, then. . .
SHOULD DAVID BELL BE EXTENDED? His contract is up after this year, with a club option for next year. He has done a pretty good job, given the bullpen he was handed in April. Managers set tones. That’s way more important than setting lineups. Bell’s calm, understated, consistently positive tone is a reason his team weathered a shaky first couple months to become the likely #2 wild card playoff team.
I’d ask, what’s the rush?
Other pieces are just as important. Derek Johnson, for one. Kyle Boddy. The Reds have to be proactive with those two. They can’t escape the way Caleb Cotham did.
With all due respect, I don’t sense a great demand for Bell’s services elsewhere. That could change with a few postseason Ws, but right now, there’s no hurry.
THE BREWERS HAVE NOT SLID the way I thought they might, at least not yet. But the starting pitching slide has happened. It just hasn’t caught up to them yet. Freddy Peralta is on the 10-day IL with shoulder inflammation. Incredibly, Brandon Woodruff is 0-4 since June 29. On the flip, Corbin Burnes is 6-0 since May 25 and is still averaging well over a K per inning. The 3-day probables:
Thursday: Gray-Brett Anderson
To entertain any realistic hope of catching the Crew, the Reds need a sweep.
MORE NONSENSE FROM THE PC PEOPLE. . . We live in a country free from worry and bad news. Why else would we be so concerned about the Notre Dame mascot?
Notre Dame's Fighting Irish leprechaun is the fourth-most offensive college football mascot in the nation, according to a new survey. The top three most offensive mascots, the survey says, wear face paint, headdresses and are culturally insensitive to Native Americans.
The Fighting Irish mascot came under fire in 2018 when ESPN’s Max Kellerman called on Notre Dame to do away with the leprechaun as Cleveland's major league baseball team did with its mascot, Chief Wahoo.
“Many Irish-Americans are not offended, but many are,” Kellerman said in a Wall Street Journal article. “Should that also change? The answer is yes. Unequivocally yes. Pernicious, negative stereotypes of marginalized people that offend, even some among them, should be changed.”
I’m Irish and I can say unequivocally I don’t give a damn about the ND mascot. Change it to a guy leaning against a lamppost chugging a bottle of Bushmill’s. I realize that certain segments of our society perpetually need something to be outraged about, but this one goes from merely annoying to outright idiotic.
RANT APPRECIATED ONLY BY ME, BUT IT IS MY BLOG. . . Yesterday, I went for my third COVID-19 test in the past month. I did so to comply with NFL rules demanding that media covering its teams produce a negative test every two weeks.
The whole thing took two hours I’ll never get back.
Meanwhile, the NFL makes no such demands of its fans poised to pack stadia in another couple weeks. The NFL doesn’t know who’s vaccinated and who’s not, doesn’t know who’s positive and who’s not, isn’t making its teams practice social distancing at the games.
I’m vaccinated. I don’t have the virus. I wear a mask when I’m asked to.
“You’re negative,’’ the nurse told me yesterday at 3:30 p.m., two hours after I signed in for a rapid test in an empty waiting area.
“I know,’’ I said.
If the NFL is going to force media to do this all season, it also should pay for the tests. Fat freaking chance.
Another reason to dislike the NFL. If you need another reason.
That’s it. The ancient corporate-supplied laptop ate the first 600 words I wrote on Rose, so I’m a little hissed off at the moment. Time to chase the little white ball.
TUNE O’ THE DAY. . . Love these guys. Played this one before, but it fits today.