Super Lawyers
William C. Altreuter
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Tuesday, January 06, 2004

When I got into the car last night, A. announced, "I am so mad about Pete Rose. Who does he think he is? 'I lied for fourteen years, and now I should be in the Hall of Fame?' They're going to put Martha Stewart in jail for lying, and he's a hero?" She went on like this for a bit more, and I thought, "This is another one where baseball shoots itself in the foot." A. is a baseball fan, but not by any means an obsessive. She is a Red Sox fan, and a Mets fan-- which can create a certain amount of cognitive dissonance, as you can imagine. She was in the stands for Game Six, she's seen Rose play-- she is the sort of person who you would think the sport would like to stay on the good side of, if only because she doesn't object if I want to go to a game, and would usually want to come too. Baseball has a knack for alienating its best fans, though, and I think the Rose situation is one more way that it has found to do it. I mean, think about it-- hoops fans don't complain nearly as much about how much NBA players get paid as baseball fans do. Hockey fans are rarely heard to complain about the NHL's drug policy. Baseball fans, though, live in a state of near constant betrayal by the game they love, and here comes one more example. If Rose hadn't bet on baseball, (and then lied about it) he would have been an automatic Hall of Faimer-- and a jerk. The Hall was never going to change the fact that he was a jerk, just like his plaque wouldn't have shown him with a decent haircut. His accomplishments on the field-- not least the hits record-- would have been enough to overcome his personality deficits. But let's face it, Rose was never the sort of player that was universally loved-- he ended Ray Fosse's career (because he was a jerk), and this Bud Harrelson fan is never going to admit to more than respect for Rose's doggedness-- because he is a jerk. You could go around the league-- fans in every city will have a story about Rose that illustrates that he was a jerk. You could see past that because he played the game hard, but once he stepped over the line, (and lied about it for fourteen years), well, you should pardon the expression, but all bets were off. Pete Rose does not belong in the Hall of Fame. He believed in the game so passionately that he allowed it to consume him, then he broke faith with it. You don't get to be an immortal when you break faith-- you get left, like Moses, standing outside looking in.

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