Tuesday, July 14, 2015

Pete Rose & The All Star Game

Before I get to Pete Rose I want to point out just because the All Star Game supposedly "matters" does not mean it does so equally for all players involved.

For those not in the know, Major League Baseball has attempted to increase fan interest in the ASG by awarding home-field advantage in the World Series to the league who wins this game. I have always believed it to be one of the dumbest concepts in modern-day sports.

Why you ask?

Because the game DOESN'T MATTER.

No, but David, that's the point. Now it does!

No. It doesn't, and here's why.

First off, if the game is going to matter it should not be left up to the fans who is playing in the game. Thankfully a crisis was averted when the entire AL starting lineup, short of Mike Trout, were not Kansas City Royals. This happened because MLB has exclusive online balloting, and fans can vote up to 35 times each. Where are we? Florida? Jeeeeeesus.

KC made a major push to get their fans involved, and it worked. They have 7 participants (3 starters) still, but aren't as dominant as they could have been. This is because their fervent fans voted...over and over and over. To their credit they got involved, and the Royals players may very well benefit from home field advantage, but it seems ridiculous fan excitement plays a role in where the World Series is played.

More to the point, not all the players on the field are on teams who care about the playoffs, and this is the my biggest concern. The Cincinnati Reds, Texas Rangers and Milwaukee Brewers have guys playing in this game, and yet all won't be in the playoffs. If those guys are coming up to pinch hit in this game, do they care who has home field advantage? And after sitting on the bench for 6 innings, and probably throwing down a few beers the night before, do you think it makes sense to have Prince Fielder deciding the game? After all, he probably spends the first 5-6 innings laughing it up, having a good 'ole time in the dug out. Every time they cut to the dug out during the ASG guys are having a blast. NO ONE IS FOCUSED! Then all of a sudden the game might come down to the final pitch and at bat between the least deserving of the All Stars? After all, those are the guys who are still available. Not the starters!

All told, do we really need the game to matter at all? It's ONE GAME, and people still don't really care.

It's high time we start making the baseball All Star game as irrelevant is it should be.


Pete Rose should not be in the Hall of Fame.

About 15 years ago I met Pete Rose at his restaurant in Boca Raton, FL. The place was called...wait for it...WAAAAIT FOR IT...

Pete Rose's!

I happened upon the place randomly, deciding to give it a shot over Wilt Chamberlain's restaurant (Yes, it was called Wilt's. Lets give credit to Charles Oakley for calling his Steakhouse "Red.") More people frequented Wilt's place, who had since died, than Pete's, who was, uhh, at the bar...

Here's the point of this story: Pete Rose was in the restaurant that night, and being the mouth that I am, I approached him. We had a conversation. He did not seem sober and looked to be a mess. He kept looking around at his empty restaurant. The guy was so shaky I started looking over my own shoulders for hit men. And yet even with the guy sitting in this place there was hardly anyone there. And those who were there didn't care that he was there! That moment told me all I needed to know about Pete Rose.

Here he was, more than 20 years after his playing career was over and he looked like a hot mess. His hair was all over the place, his eyes looked dark, his gut was large, and he didn't smile once. I didn't know if he was drinking water, or vodka straight. If I was a gambler...

Sitting in an empty bar with his own name on it, what could be more apropos?

The reality of Pete Rose is simple, and it gets back to a lesson my dad drilled into me before I was a teen: gambling is worse than everything.

Apparently my dad once took all his savings (not a lot) and bet on a "sure thing" college basketball game at Madison Square Garden back in the 1960s. Turns out the game had been thrown, but that didn't prevent my dad from having to pay. He never bet again, and outside of some Vegas fun, I haven't either.

To me I have always looked at gambling as worse than drugs, or other vices, because gambling takes place in the open and people think it's okay. Yet gambling destroys lives because it's so obviously wide open as to become accepted! Onlookers might think to themselves, "Oh, he's just betting on a few games." Except a few games can turn into your entire life's savings and destroy you without anyone noticing what was coming.

With drugs, people see it coming; people intervene. With gambling it's usually way too late, despite those wonderful commercials from Harrah's during the World Series of Poker.

And that's the point of it all when it comes to Rose. Whether gambling is better or worse than PEDs is not the point. The reality is this guy bet on his team when he played and managed, which in turn affected his decision making during those games. Maybe he was rash? Maybe he added additional pressure to himself and didn't come through during an at bat? Maybe he stole a base when it was unadvised and was called out? Maybe as a manager it caused stress which in turn made him less focused? Maybe that stress led to drinking? All of these are reasons why the argument, "He only bet on his own team!" is nonsense. Total nonsense.

Betting on your OWN team is probably WORSE! You've got skin in that game! You can affect THAT GAME.

PEDs? As far as I know they just make you better, and as a former producer with the UFC, I can tell you "everyone is doing it."

If "everyone" was betting on baseball, maybe I'd feel different. But as far as we know it was just Pete Rose.

So Pete Rose can be lauded and loved in Cincinnati, the most backward city I've ever been in, but at the end of the day he'll be sitting alone at the bar. Because as gambling does to nearly everyone who is touched by it, eventually you become an old, broken down, disheveled and dishonest person.

And that's the guy I saw sitting in a South Florida bar.

By the way, I would make a bet: Vodka.

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