July 29, 2009

Phil Rogers, of the ChiTrib wrote about Pete Rose and his dashed hopes:

“Poor Pete Rose.

He’s 68, as one-dimensional as ever and still paying for mistakes he made in 1987, when his running buddies were Tommy Gioiosa, Paul Janszen and Ron Peters, who wouldn’t have survived three episodes on “the Sopranos.” The 20-year anniversary of Rose’s lifetime ban is approaching, and there’s no end in sight, despitemoments of false hope.

One of those came Monday.

Rose, now a West Coast guy, awoke to reports in the New York Daily News that Hank Aaron and other unnamed Hall of Fame members had been lobbying Commissioner Bud Selig for a favorable ruling on Rose’s application for reinstatement, filed in 1997. But Selig and other Major League Baseball officials had quashed that story before the day was over.

Selig was so angry about the Daily News story, built largely around one quote from Aaron, that sources indicated he was strongly considering authorizing a
statement contradicting it.

Reached by the Chicago Tribune in his Milwaukee office, Selig declined to comment, saying only that nothing had changed since he was asked about the Rose case during a group interview in St. Louis on July 14.

“There’s nothing new,” he said the day of the All-Star game. “We are reviewing it. Since I’m the judge and jury in that case, I don’t think I’m going to comment beyond that.”

Selig annually uses the Hall of Fame induction weekend to discuss major issues in the game with Hall of Fame members. The Daily News reported that several Hall of Fame members have been trying to persuade Selig into lifting the ban, which was instituted Aug. 24, 1989, but the paper quoted only Aaron.

“I would like to see Pete in,” Aaron said during an informal interview Saturday. “He belongs there.”

Selig and Aaron speak regularly, and it would be easy to assume that Aaron wouldn’t speak in favor of Rose’s reinstatement without knowing it was under
consideration. But it appears the Daily News read too much into Aaron’s comments.

Selig rarely has commented about Rose’s status in anything but the most cryptic terms — aware that the review ultimately falls to him — but is unlikely to allow him back into uniform or onto the Hall of Fame ballot.

Some observers believe Selig’s stance is personal in nature, as some have blamed the agonizing investigation into Rose’s gambling for the sudden death of then-commissioner Bart Giamatti. But it goes far beyond that, dealing with Rose’s long-held contention that he never bet on baseball and possibly some facts about Rose’s later years discovered during the review of his appeal.

Selig met with Rose in 2003 and appeared to be moving toward removing him from the ineligible list when the all-time hits leader released his autobiography, “My Prison Without Bars,” in January 2004.

Rose, who defied Giamatti by immediately challenging the findings of MLB’s 1989 investigation, had steadfastly maintained that he never bet on baseball. He changed his stance in the book, and at the time he said he hoped his admission would persuade Selig to lift the ban implemented by Giamatti. Instead, communication between his lawyers and MLB reportedly came to a halt.

Selig was angered that Rose came clean only to make a buck and that transcripts from the book were made public on the same day the Hall of Fame released the 2004 vote, overshadowing the election of Paul Molitor and Dennis Eckersley.

Contrary to the Daily News story, there has been no movement by Rose’s peers to have him take a seat among the greats in Cooperstown, N.Y. The Hall of Fame members are hard-liners when it comes to respect for the game, and it’s hard to see that they would elect Rose if given the chance.”


From Gwen Knapp: “Roger Goodell struck the highest notes of his tenure as the NFL sheriff Monday, when he explained why he had conditionally approved Michael Vick’s return to the league and, more important, the responsibilities that the NFL had to accept as it reopened the door to a player convicted of a stomach-turning felony.
The commissioner came across as a papa bear in an expensive suit, which played surprisingly well, with little of the authoritarian condescension that accompanies paternalism in men’s sports. Goodell succeeded mostly because he made it clear that the real patriarch in this relationship would be the revered former Colts coach, Tony Dungy, who had already ministered to Vick while he was behind bars in Leavenworth, Kan.
Still, Goodell’s tone mattered. When he decided two seasons ago to start suspending troublesome players based primarily on his judgment, rather than simply letting jurisprudence takes it course, he waded into much more complicated territory than he could have imagined. Not long after the first descriptions of Vick’s dogfighting ring, including the executions of defeated pups, went public, it became clear that neither Goodell nor a federal judge could ever lay down enough law to convince passionate animal lovers that he deserved to start fresh in a place of privilege on Sunday afternoons.
Once Vick left government custody, the commissioner had to weigh widely divergent meanings of forgiveness and second chances, in essence to play a few downs as God. He wisely chose to take the role down several notches, playing it humbly, not pretending he had all the answers.
In cynical terms, his ruling – Vick’s right to sign with a team, practice at training camp, play the final two preseason games, and then hope for full reinstatement in the first six weeks of the regular season – seems like a trial balloon. But occasionally, an attempt to do what looks like the right thing leads to something in the vicinity of the real deal.
For instance, if Vick signs with a new team, and part of the deal includes a fat donation to a local animal shelter, the gesture could rightly be seen as a craven attempt to buy off objectors. But the economy has left shelters all over the country crammed beyond capacity with homeless pets. If Vick hadn’t done time, accepting the money would be a sellout. Now? The shelters should take the check, and then ask for more.
One of the first words that Goodell used Monday when describing Vick’s behavior was “cruel.” He had to address the biggest concern of Vick’s opponents – that he engaged in sadism and then expressed contrition only because he got caught and had no other route back to the NFL. At the same time, the commissioner had to acknowledge that Vick paid for his crime and that many, many people believe that continuing to penalize him would reflect a cold-hearted arrogance, which can breed sadistic cruelty.
“I am not here to punish anybody,” Goodell said. “… The intent here was to do the right thing with a young man’s life.”
If so, then he and Dungy and all of the advisers around Vick would be wise to avoid one of the most despicable clichés surrounding players in trouble: “He has to get away from a bad element, his so-called friends.”
Three Vick cohorts also went to prison for their role in his Bad Newz Kennels. Too often, they have been portrayed as leeches and the source of Vick’s misdeeds, even though he had the bankroll and the stature to hold absolute power in those friendships. He could have slipped cash to his hangers-on or told them he was setting up a plumbing business for them to run. We have no idea who exactly decided to train animals to maul each other, take bets on their fights and then electrocute or shoot the losers.
This is just a way to shift the burden from Vick, because no one can make any money off putting his buddies in a uniform and on TV every weekend. Trying to humanize Vick by dehumanizing un-famous, un-rich young men doesn’t work. It’s another form of playing God, and if the commissioner has learned anything from this crisis, that position has been erased from his depth chart.”


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