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“One. Two. Three strikes you’re at out at the old ball game.” This lyric from “Take Me Out to the Ballgame” can represent so much many different things. From summertime nights to that walk off home run to push your team into the playoffs this lyric is a part of America’s Pastime, but this also illustrates how we tend to view discipline. We look to give people a second chance (or two), but what if you only got one strike and you were out? Well one should-be Hall of Famer lives that reality.
Former Cincinnati Red Pete Rose has lived the past 25 years in exile from the game he once took by storm. In August of 1989, then commissioner of baseball, A. Bartlett Giamatti, handed Rose a lifetime ban from baseball after learning Rose would bet on the game.
This year, we’re 25 years removed from the original sentence and it remains the “elephant in the room” as Major League Baseball elected a new commissioner this year to succeed Bud Selig. As someone who was born and raised in Cincinnati and has a passion for baseball, I can’t help but ask this: How will Pete Rose fare in the court of public opinion?
Right now, I believe he has good shot. The public view of this is comparable to a hung jury, equal amount of people in his favor and against him. While right now some people may see it as Rose vs. Major League Baseball. I see it differently. I believe it is MLB vs Rose vs. Barry Bonds & other users of performance-enhancing drugs. The issue with Barry Bonds and other users of performance-enhancing drugs is the biggest thing in Rose’s favor.
The 2007 BALCO scandal uncovered professional athletes such as Barry Bonds and Jason Giambi who took P.E.D.’s. Over time the list of baseball players who have been connected (or admitted) to using PED’s has grown bigger.
In an article by the New York Daily News this July, Christian Red reported that the U.S Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit would take another look at Bonds’ Balco case. Bond was indicted in 2007 and eventually charged with one count of obstruction. In the article it said: “Prosecutors argued that the seven-time MVP gave “misleading or evasive” testimony when he testified before a grand jury in 2003 in connection with the government’s investigation of BALCO.”
In a recent article in the Blytheville Courier News, Aaron FitzPatrick addressed the Rose issue head on. While a fan of Rose, FitzPatrick said “Baseball had a rule, Rose broke the rule, MLB enforced the rule. End of story.” FitzPatrick added that “…if baseball were to back away from their punishment, it would open a whole new can of worms, especially considering the players who are currently being punished in the court of public opinion for using steroids and other PEDs.” While true, FitPatrick touches on a subject many baseball fans cringe at-steroid usage in baseball.
In an article on legalaffairs.org, Joshua Mann wrote about the 2003 ESPN documentary,“The Trial of Pete Rose”. The documentary revolved around a mock trial of whether Rose should be allowed into the Hall of Fame or not. Former Boston Red Sox left-hand pitcher, Bill Lee successfully got Pete Rose in the Hall of Fame in a mock trial. In the cross-examination he agreed that Rose probably bet on baseball, but didn’t see it as a very serious offense. Lee went on to state “Rose's impressive records spoke for themselves and that he deserved a plaque in Cooperstown.”
Lee's opinion in the documentary that betting on baseball was not a serious offense sparks the need to compare each case to see who made the bigger mistake. The difference between the two mistakes made by Pete Rose and Barry Bonds is drastic. One player bet on the game while the other supposedly took P.E.D’s . It’s like sending one kid to the Principal’s office for sticking their tongue out at the teacher while another kid hits a classmate and just gets a finger wag. Bonds made the mistake that has a greater, more-direct impact on the game- not Rose. I believe with the increased full force attack against performance-enhancing drugs, the court of public opinion will lean in favor of allowing Pete Rose back into baseball. However, whether newly-elected commissioner Rob Manfred will be the one who lifts Rose’s ban is left to be seen. Ultimately, one thing is for sure- baseball fans will be waiting with open arms when (and if) Rose’s ban is lifted.
What is your take on this? Do you think Pete Rose got the appropriate punishment or do you think his punishment should be lifted? What about Barry Bonds? I’m interested in hearing what you think.