Pete Rose is complaining. Again? Still? Seems his attorneys have sent a seven-page letter to the Baseball Hall of Fame requesting that their client be placed on the ballot for potential inclusion alongside other greats.
While Rose’s tenacity and perseverance—traits that endeared him to fans as a player before he willfully disgraced himself and Major League Baseball by betting on games while he managed—could be viewed as admirable in other circumstances, this latest effort to circumvent rules implemented to deter others from following his path comes off as a pathetic and desperate plea for attention. At age 75, he may not have much time left to argue on behalf of his own relevance.
Rose has already collected more career hits than anyone else in MLB history. His being banned from the Hall of Fame is well known. Ironically, it could be argued that this ban serves to make him even more famous than enshrinement would.
Much as Armando Galarraga is remembered as the guy who was denied a perfect game by an imperfect umpire, Rose is remembered as the guy who was denied entrance into Cooperstown by… well, this is where things get murky. Rose defenders may claim that their hero has been treated unfairly by a system out to get him. Others will counter that he is simply serving out the terms of an agreement reached when he couldn’t or wouldn’t stop himself from committing MLB’s equivalent of unforgivable sin.
Rose’s attorneys make emotional, heartfelt appeals claiming that “beyond his relationships… nothing means more to him than the opportunity to at least be considered for Hall of Fame membership.” Their focus on Rose’s desires has a certain charm, but it also lacks substance and fails to comprehend the damage their client did to the game as he worked from within its boundaries to affect outcomes by means other than effort on the field.
The lawyers immediately follow this with some good old-fashioned misdirection: “We are not writing to minimize Pete’s history of gambling, or his history of trying to cover it up.” Yet that’s exactly what granting him eligibility for the Hall would do. It would tell others that if they break MLB’s one unbreakable commandment and are served a lifetime ban, hey, no big deal… as long as they have more hits than anyone else in history. Just keep badgering the powers that be until they cave to your whims because you’ve had enough of this punishment, dammit, and you want to be included in the very thing you agreed to be excluded from due to your transgressions.
Give Rose’s lawyers credit. They exhibit every bit as much tenacity and perseverance as their client in attempting to clear his name by magically wishing away his crimes and making specious comparisons. Their epic letter invokes references to Shoeless Joe Jackson, Willie Mays, and Mickey Mantle.
Jackson, who arguably did less damage to baseball’s integrity and suffered far more, has been dead nearly 65 years—longer than he lived—and still awaits reinstatement. Mays and Mantle? Please, they worked for a casino well after they’d retired. Sure, they were placed on MLB’s “permanently ineligible” list, but equating what they did with what Rose did is like saying that everyone is in prison for the same reason.
Anyway, we could examine this letter in further detail, but that would serve only to lend it a legitimacy it doesn’t deserve. This is a desperate attempt by a desperate man who won’t be able to fight for his legacy much longer. Maybe don’t make such poor decisions in the next life. Until then, keep quiet and let the rest of the world go on without you.
Geoff Young is a baseball writer who really wishes Pete Rose would get off his lawn. You should follow him on Twitter.