Looking back it is hard to find a person baseball has generally hated more than Pete Rose, other than perhaps Ty Cobb (except Ty Cobb is in the Hall of Fame). Even though Pete Rose met with the new Commissioner Rob Manfred last December, it was still decided that Baseball was going to snub the all-time leader in MLB hits from a plaque at Cooperstown. I've decided to put down the facts about Pete Rose so everybody can have an educated opinion about this matter and maybe one day the all time "Hit King" can be inducted into Baseball's Hall of Fame.
Pete Rose as a child
Pete Rose was born in Cincinnati Ohio on April 14th, 1941. Throughout his early life he played a lot of Baseball and Football. He was held back in High School because he was told his sophomore year that he was not good enough to play Varsity Football which ruined his self-esteem and his grades started to suffer. With this, his father decided that, instead of sending him to summer school where he wouldn't be able to play baseball and the fact that he was short for his age, that he should be held back a year so he could mature physically. When his 4-year high school eligibility ran out Pete Rose than played AA baseball in the limbo known as the minor leagues.
Pete Rose in his 1964 Topps Rookie Card
Because of Pete Rose's uncle (who happened to be a scout for the Cincinnati Reds) Pete was able to play for the Major League team. During his rookie year in Spring Training while the Reds were playing the New York Yankees, Rose was walked on Ball-Four and legitimately sprinted to first base. Whitey Ford ended up calling him "Charlie Hustle" which was a name that Rose reveled in. As we saw his career go on it was obvious that he respected the sanctity of the game so much that he hustled when nobody else even would.
Pete Rose in the 1970 All Star Game
In his rookie season, Rose went 0-11 in hits before finally getting one against the Pirates' pitcher, Bob Friend. He won Rookie of the Year in 1963, while entering the Army Reserves being based at Fort Knox. After a few up and down seasons the "Big Red Machine" was in place and the Reds collected 2 World Series titles and 4 NL pennants. Rose was on the same team with players like Johnny Bench, Tony Perez, and Joe Morgan.
In 1978 Rose had a 44-game hitting streak, which is the 3rd longest hit streak in all of baseball. Throughout his career he collected a batting average of .303 and a record 4,256 hits, in which no player has yet reached in major league hits. He became known for a very aggressive version of play that was almost Ty Cobb-esc. He sprinted when he hit Home Runs, he tackled Catchers when they were blocking the plate, and he played with more consistent heart than many players throughout the sport.
However, no man is without his faults. After an article for Sports Illustrated that was written on April 3rd, 1989 revealed a bet that Rose had made in baseball on March 21st of that same year. Rose repeatedly denied any accusations put forth that he was betting at all. A lawyer by the name of John M. Dowd investigated these statements and said that Rose gambled on Reds games while he was a manager. Still, there is no evidence that he ever bet against the Reds while still being a manager. In other words there is no evidence that he ever threw a game to win a bet.
I think Bill James puts it best in his book "The New Bill James Historical Baseball Abstract" when he puts the crime of gambling in 10 different levels ranging from knowing a bookie to knowingly throwing an entire championship. According to Bill James there is disciplinary action taken on people who are between levels 1-3 and those who are caught past that are simply banned from the game. He says that with respect to "Shoeless" Joe Jackson people say that he was either in levels 9 or 10, however it is still a debate as to which because we still don't know if the 1919 White Sox had knowingly thrown the World Series that year. Rose definitely was in level 4, but it is still debated if he ever entered levels 5 or 6. The thing about his gambling is the fact that we really don't know much if anything about how deep his crimes actually went.
Pete Rose has repeatedly filed for reinstatement to only have it ignored by the commissioner of baseball. About 9 months ago Rob Manfred met with Pete Rose and took his reinstatement and simply rejected the movement saying in an interview with MLB Network, that he couldn't justify reinstating Rose because he never apologized for what he did and never strayed away from the behaviors that got him banned in the first place. However, Rose was allowed to be inducted into the Reds Hall of Fame where they retired his number earlier this season.
Pete Rose Sliding into a base as a Philadelphia Phillie
I ask the same question as I did in the last article about Alex Rodriguez. How are we to remember a person like Pete Rose? Is it as the man who always hustled and played his butt off respecting the game more so, perhaps, than anybody in history, or the man who gambled and knowingly broke the rules. I think he should be inducted in the Hall of Fame and I will leave you with this thought. He didn't get to where he was without PEDs and other things that synthetically enhance performance that many athletes today use, he got to where he was with grit, determination, and an ability (that not everybody appreciates) to be nasty. Let me know how you feel below.
History, like politics or really anyway of looking at just about anything, is about perspective. Case in point, we can choose to look at a guy like Andrew Jackson (7th President of the United States) as an Indian hater who forced thousands of people to walk hundreds of miles just to settle their land in the name of the U.S., or we can also look at him as a very good President who shut down the corrupt Second National Bank, won the Creek War, fought in the War of 1812, and was the last President to pay off the National Debt. Now depending on who you are, you either see what he did as progress for the sake progress and anybody who stood in the way simply stood in the way of progress, or you may happen to be somebody of Native American decent and you may try to refrain from using a $20 bill. Either way, the way you look at a person like Andrew Jackson is about perspective. The great question is: should we remember a person for the positive or negative things they have done? Since hearing a few days ago that Alex Rodriguez was going to retire from playing baseball, I have been wrestling with this question, as I'm sure many of you people are doing as well. So I've decided to bring together a history of A-Rod's career highlights and let you make the final decision.
Alex Rodriguez congratulating Ken Griffey Jr. after a 2 run shot
Alex Rodriguez was born in New York City in 1975. He was born into a Latin family and grew up a pretty big baseball fan following the New York Mets (of all things). He moved around a little as a kid and was a star shortstop in High School. A-Rod first signed with the Seattle Mariners in the 1993 MLB draft and in 1994 made his professional debut with the Appleton Foxes in the Minor Leagues. He had his Major League debut in 1995 and started playing as Seattle's regular shortstop in 1996. At 21 he was the third youngest player in history to have 35 or more Home Runs. That year he hit .358 which led the American League as well as a slew of other awards and achievements made in his rookie year alone, including being the first shortstop ever to win a batting title.
A-Rod with the Texas Rangers
In 2001 he signed with the Texas Rangers as a free agent after helping the powerhouse Mariners get close to a Championship in the 2000 ALCS. A-Rod's career with the Rangers was even more potent offensively were he was slamming 50+ Home Runs, but the Rangers finished at or near last place with him on the team making it hard for him to win an MVP award.
Alex Rodriguez with the Yankees
In 2004 the New York Yankees needed a 3rd baseman so they traded Alfonso Soriano to the Texas Rangers for A-Rod because the Rangers wanted to dump his expensive contract. Bare in mind that "Moneyball" was barely being tested out and the Rangers were a small market team who simply couldn't afford to keep him. With the Yankees, Rodriguez got a World Series title (2009) and 2 AL MVP awards. In all, his career numbers look very good hitting 696 Home Runs (4th on the all time list), joined the 3,000 hit club, and has career batting average of .295 (which is an average some would kill for during a single season). With all that came a lot of controversy.
Alex Rodriguez (as everybody already knows) tested positive for steroid use as early as 2003, as reported by a Sports Illustrated article in 2009. After that he was considered Baseball's favorite person to hate. Like so many before him he did hit very well and maybe didn't deserve all the Home Runs he got, but to hit at or over .300 any year takes skill that steroids do not give you. Like McGwire, Sosa, Canseco, Bonds, Giambi, and so many others that have tainted the game with too much power he became a bit of a black eye on the sport itself. He was respected by some Yankee fans but was usually the butt of the joke like the scene in the "Other Guys" shown above when Mark Wahlberg tells the story where he shot Derek Jeter. After telling the story someone shouts "You should've shot A-Rod". It does kind of show the fall Rodriguez had although that is one of the great lines in the whole movie.
I think it is also worth noting how the Yankees organization stuck by him, when just about any other team would have "dropped him like a cheap suit". Joe Gerardi holds Rodriguez in high regard, so much so that he let A-Rod play 3rd base in his last game at Yankee Stadium and Yanks fans gave him a standing ovation.
So do we remember somebody who spent most of his career lying to his fans, or do we remember him for the good things he has done for the sport itself? Again it is all about perspective. I feel like he is a respectable guy but he did act in a way against the sport itself. Whether or not an asterisk should be put by his name or whatever I'd say he did achieve a lot in baseball and brought new fans to the sport. So how do we remember a player like A-Rod? Would it be for the good player he was or the liar?
It is difficult to say who exactly won the trade deadline, it is simply too early, we really won't know until October. I feel like I should also point out that the team that may have "won" the trade deadline may not be winning the World Series this year. All in all I guess I will say the three teams I think did the best during the trade deadline and the three teams I think did the worst.
Here's who I thought did the best...
The Texas Rangers- If I could award a winner right off the bat (pardon the pun), I would give it to the Rangers. With the acquisitions of Johnathon Lucroy (who skipped out on Cleveland) and Carlos Beltran, the line up looks scary and could potentially do some serious damage come fall. You put in the acquisition of closer Jeremy Jeffress to stiffen up the back end of the bullpen and you have not only a great playoff team, but a great trade deadline. I was hard pressed to find somebody who did better.
The Washington Nationals/Chicago Cubs- Okay, I cheated a little on this one. I think getting a closer is the most important part of a trade deadline. If you have a bad closer you end up like the Rangers in 2011 (who didn't have a bad closer, but he did choke). With the Cubs acquiring Aroldis Chapman (arguably the best closer in baseball) and the Nats getting Mark Melancon (who consistently embarrassed even the best of hitters), both shows us how to build a championship team in this day in age. What you need to do is get good hitters and than spend the farm on pitchers because good hitters are a lot harder to come by and pitchers are almost a dime a dozen.
The New York Yankees- Probably one of the few times in history the Yankees would be on a list like this for selling players. The Yankees' Brain Cashman showed his grit and skill when selling. They received Cubs top shortstop prospect Gleyber Torres as well as giving up the present to invest in the future with Andrew Miller and Chapman. Watch out the Yankees have caught on to "Moneyball" and Cashman seems to get it better than Steinbrenner Sr. ever did. Watch out for the Yanks in about a year or two, they will be able to compete in an already competitive division.
Honorable Mentions:The San Francisco Giants (didn't lose anything to gain a good team) and The Los Angeles Dodgers (solely for the acquisition of Josh Reddick and the demotion of Yasiel Puig...not that I don't like him)
Here's who didn't do so well...
The Atlanta Braves- I really had a problem with the Matt Kemp deal. Like, I get it, but I also don't...If I were the Braves' GM I would have gone for more prospects to build the farm system. When your team is floundering like that I feel like the last thing you should do is try to do is better a position on the Major League Rooster. I mean you tried to buy a relatively "has-been" player with prospects. You should just be buying prospects and building around existing players like Freddie Freedman or Julio Tehran. But I guess that's why I'm not a Major League GM.
The Houston Astros- I stated in a previous article that I thought the Astros would win the AL West this year. Granted this was right after the All-Star Break. I still think they may get into the playoffs, but with no real big acquisitions and Dallas Keuchel not in his "Cy Young" form I don't think they will get far if they even win a Wild Card game... and that's if they even make the playoffs. They needed another starting pitcher and they didn't really get anything. However, kudos to them for dumping Scott Feldman. They have a fantastic offense, maybe with that they can get into the playoffs and go deep, but I don't know...
The Chicago White Sox- I remember at the beginning of the season where the Cubs and Sox were both doing well and people were saying it could be a Cubs-Sox World Series. While that's a cool idea my main response was to laugh. Don't get me wrong, I would say it if I thought the White Sox were good but their owner is using dated methods like acquiring a ton of free agents only to have them fail miserably during the season. They should have unloaded Chis Sale (who I think is a cancer to their clubhouse regardless of his win-loss record) and tried to rebuild their farm system. The entire franchise is in dire need of an overhaul.
(Dis)-Honorable Mentions- The Philadelphia Phillies (because there wasn't even a market for their veterans) and The Cincinnati Reds (because they just got the raw end of selling their veterans)
As usual if you disagree with me or have anymore ideas or reasons another team should or shouldn't be on this list, please leave a comment.