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Sunday, September 12, 2010

My Rant Against MLB: When Will It Ever Be Enough?

Occasionally, I veer off topic in this blog and talk about something besides TV—usually sports related. I hope you can all forgive me as I do it again, because there is something I definitely need to get off my chest…

Saturday night, I was fortunate enough to be a part of something pretty special at Great American Ball Park in Cincinnati. I’m not talking about seeing the hundreds of camera flashes go off as Aroldis Chapman took the mound or Joey Votto’s walk-off homer in the 10th—although both of those were pretty special. I’m talking about the celebration of the 25th anniversary of Pete Rose breaking the all-time hits record.

As soon as I heard that Major League Baseball had given the Reds permission to honor Pete on the field, I bought tickets—upper level but right behind home plate so I’d have a great view of the ceremony. So when the ceremony started and the guests of honor began to take seats along the first base line where I couldn’t really see them, I was a little bummed. Why weren’t they sitting in the infield, just as they were during the Hall of Fame Ceremony I attended in July?

Then a video showing us number 4192 played on the videoboard. That was followed by a video of Pete speaking. As the video continued, I started to get more and more confused. Why were we watching him on a video screen when he was at the stadium?

Then, finally, Pete emerged from behind the outfield, riding in a golf cart. The golf cart took him around the outfield, stopping in front of the Reds dugout where the honored guests, including Tony Perez and Cesar Geronimo were waiting. After greeting his former teammates, Pete went over to first base and stomped on it as the crowd roared. He then went back to the guests to pose for some pictures. His family came out to greet him and pose for some pictures. Then, he was presented with a trophy to commemorate the occasion. He posed for some more pictures, got back in his golf cart and then rode away.

I don’t know why it happened, but from the minute Pete came into view, I got pretty emotional. I don’t know if it was the crowd cheering, or thinking about what he must have been going through at that moment, or if I was thinking about what a huge fan of his I was when I was a kid. Whatever it was, I had more than a few tears filling my eyes. And I wasn’t the only one…

But when it was over, I have to admit, I felt a little gipped. I mean, that was it? A video and a ride around the field in a golf cart? Some waves from the first base line that provided my camera no decent shots? I was expecting a full blown ceremony with Marty Brennaman hosting and introducing Pete to thunderous applause as he thanked the city of Cincinnati and its fans. That’s what Pete deserved. And maybe, more importantly, that’s what me and the 36,000+ other fans at GABP deserved,

But Major League Baseball had other plans. You see, we didn’t see Pete address the crowd because he wasn’t allowed to. MLB had to approve his comments beforehand—thus, the video.

Which begs the question: When will MLB finally decide it has obtained its pound of flesh from one Peter Edward Rose? It’s one thing to keep him out of the game. It’s another to keep him out of the Hall of Fame. But to deny him the ability to address his fans on the anniversary of his greatest achievement? I’m sorry, but I believe that’s gone too far.

Pete was not going to say anything bad about MLB or Commissioner Bud Selig. He was not going to use the opportunity to campaign for election into the Hall of Fame. He knows better than that. He would’ve just thanked the fans, which he called the greatest in the world on the video. And I can’t even describe how much that would have meant to them…to me.

I don’t think it would surprise any of you to know that I believe wholeheartedly Pete Rose belongs in the Hall of Fame. But that issue, nor his banishment from baseball, had anything to do with last night’s ceremony. That was as much about the fans as it was Pete. And clearly, MLB forgot that.

But the Reds did not, and they should be commended for making the best out of what they were given. No doubt they would’ve liked to have given Pete a splashy ceremony too. It’s what we all deserved…