I was thinking about Pete recently when I was feeling melancholy one day wondering why I had lost my love for baseball. Here I was a guy who positively loved the Orioles of the ’70s and ’80s and today, I could care less about the sport. Where’s the love gone? As a kid, I had a pretty good arm. Dad and Mom let us play Little League throughout our elementary school years. Like most kids, I didn’t usually get up to full speed until the end of the season. We’d all get those cheapo trophies that all kids love after playing a tournament each season. If you grew up in Maryland, any kid worth his salt that could throw dreamed of being Jim Palmer. I remember once over at church during a fall harvest festival, I threw a beeeeautiful curveball to a buddy of mine. The thing broke a mile. I knew I threw it right because my elbow hurt afterward. So what happened? I mean we’d root for Mark Belanger, Don Baylor, Bobby, Grich, Al Bumbry, Jim freaking Palmer, Eddie Murphy, Rick Demsey, Boog Powell, and last but certainly not least MR. Brooks Robinson. The list goes on and on. These guys are baseball icons. They’re men who made the sport great simply by going out there and doing it day in and day out, by playing with integrity and grit. Somewhere along the way we lost that in big salaries and somewhere in there, I lost the love of baseball.
Whatever you feel about Pete Rose, I think we can all agree that Pete’s a baseball icon. He wasn’t the first dumb guy to walk into the game and he’s certainly not the last. We’ve heard tons about the steroid doping investigations that still plague the locker rooms of all of today’s major league baseball teams. We’ve got guys allegedly taking guns into locker rooms, other guys allegedly fighting dogs, and yet other guys allegedly brutalizing women, and yet further still, other guys cheating on their wives. Controversy after controversy across the broad spectrum of sports. As sure as my butt’s glued to this chair, I’m certain a lot of those guys will make the Hall of Fame in their respective sports. I can’t help but think: where’s the forgiveness for Pete? Hasn’t he paid his dues for the mistakes he’s made? It’s been twenty years since he was coach of the Reds. Pete’s 69 years old now. He’s done jail-time for the tax stuff, been sacked by periodical after periodical and lambasted by every talk show on the planet. The Reds will never retire his jersey due to the permanently ineligible from baseball status that’s tattooed squarely on his forehead. I wonder if the league’s plan is to let the guy die then posthumously give him a Hall of Fame nod? I think it’d be a damn shame if that’s the route they take. It’d be nice if someone in the Commissioner’s office had the stones to stand up and work to heal the wound between Pete and baseball before he leaves this good ol’ Earth. I don’t think that’s too much to ask.
Where’s the love? I just don’t know where it went, but it’s gone. I lost the love for something that was once great and I don’t know why.