Monday, March 2, 2020
For Pete's Sake, Let It Go
Pete Rose was cancelled 30 years before cancel culture was even a thing. He is cancelled still, for reasons that are almost laughable by comparison to what’s allowed to stand in 2020.
Major League Baseball’s all-time hits leader was banned from the sport for life in 1989 by then-commissioner Bart Giamatti for gambling. It’s instructive to remember that this was not the 1919 Black Sox revisited. Rose bet on his own team to win, which is the most Pete Rose thing ever. One can safely assume that the guy who effectively ended Ray Fosse’s career in a home plate collision to win a meaningless All Star game isn’t predisposed to losing on purpose.
The disproportionate severity of Rose’s banishment from the game that defined his life was brought into sharp focus by the recently-exposed Houston Astros sign stealing scandal. Not only did baseball allow Houston’s 2017 World Series Championship to stand, Astros players were given immunity and allowed to continue with lucrative careers that pay several of them more money in a few months than Rose earned in his entire playing career. But money is not the issue here.
When the Astros scandal broke, Rose swiftly and smartly appealed - again - for a pardon and eligibility for the Baseball Hall of Fame. His latest petition for reinstatement rightly claims that Rose’s lifetime ban is “vastly disproportionate” compared to the punishment - or lack thereof - meted out to cheaters on the Astros and players who were caught using performance enhancing drugs. Well, no shit.
Pete Rose isn’t a guy who was railroaded by the system and locked up for life for a murder he didn’t commit But he is the guy who got 30 years for stealing a loaf of bread. Now more than ever, his case is a no-brainer, and baseball should do right by him, lift the lifetime ban and let him take his proper place in the Hall of Fame while he’s still alive to enjoy the moment. He has been disgraced and humiliated beyond any reasonable measure. Cooperstown already honours alcoholics, wife-beaters, whoremongers and cheaters. Surely they can make room for a guy whose worst moral shortcoming was that he wouldn’t bet against himself.