For Ben and Raymond, they maintain a sentiment of baseball as religion; men of faith putting their trust both in the word of God and Vin Scully. They both believe in the Miracle of the Resurrection and Game 1 of the ‘88 World Series. Both have been unfaithful baseball bigamists; Raymond with the Angels and Ben with the Red Sox. Their faiths have undergone as much change as their favorite team's roster. So they write about it. They write about Baseball and they write about God.

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

The Pete Rose Redemption

He’s a self-promoting old cuss who throws public relations tantrums every summer in baseball’s fertile crescent. He may have single-handedly transformed autograph seeking and sports memorabilia collecting from a childhood hobby, pure and innocent, into a multi-billion dollar industry fraught with racketeers and shysters. He’s a tax evader. A criminal. Imprisoned for 5 months for dodging the IRS. He makes a living off his misdeeds, lining his pockets with book deals and TV spots and public appearances. He blasphemed Baseball, committing Sports’ one unforgivable sin. He bet on games he played in. He bet on games he managed.

And then lied about it… for 15 years.

Let’s face it. He slid, spikes up, into baseball’s integrity.

That being said… there’s 4,256 reasons why Charlie Hustle should be enshrined in Cooperstown. I agree. He belongs in the Hall.

But here’s the thing… he hasn’t had his “APPROVED” moment yet. Let me explain.

You know in the movie “Shawshank Redemption”, in those scenes between the action, when Red is up for parole and is forced to persuade a state official to cut short his sentence by convincing him that he’s been “rehabilitated”? Pete Rose is The Beginning of the Movie Morgan Freeman.

Pete keeps taking the hat in hand, “I learned my lesson. I can honestly say I’m a changed man. No longer a danger to society. That’s God’s honest truth” approach. And with the Syphilis, that ain’t gonna cut it. Red can tell ya’.

Pete is pleading for reinstatement, beseeching Bud with “Forgive me” cards, bribing fans with autographs, appealing to the public through long overdue confessions. But that’s the problem. Pete thinks it’s a political game. And in the court of public opinion, he may have won. But in the Commissioner’s office, he hasn’t. If Pete REALLY wants reinstatement. If he REALLY wants to be immortalized on a plaque with his name on it. Pete HAS to change his game plan. He’s got to channel End of the Movie Morgan Freeman. He’s got to employ the “So go on Sonny and stamp your form and stop wasting my time. Because to tell you the truth, I don’t give a shit” strategy.

It worked for Red.

Can you imagine Pete walking into Bud’s office? Sitting there, rolling his eyes and responding with, “Rehabilitated? To me it’s just a made up word. A politician’s word. So that fellas like yourself can wear a suit and a tie, and have a job.”? Could The Syphilis say “no”?

Pete’s gotta go “F-You” on Bud.

Here’s the problem. It took Red 40 years to get to “F-You.” Pete’s on easy street. He’s makin’ money. Fans love him. Baseball Purgatory is nowhere near Shawshank Prison. Not even in its stratosphere. There are no “Sisters” to deal with when you’re banished from baseball. So Pete will go on. Until an “old man is all that’s left.” Hoping for his day of reinstatement. Hoping to deliver an induction speech on a lawn in Cooperstown. Hoping to return to the diamond and wave his cap to fans. He hopes.

PS: Kudos for finding that photo of Rose where his bats are more clothed than his balls.

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