Spring has sprung. The signs are all around us.
Birds are chirping. Flowers are blooming. Moore, Oklahoma, has been hit by a tornado. And Pete Rose has asked for his lifetime ban for betting on baseball to be lifted.
Each year when the crocuses begin to bloom, Rose tries to knock another brick out of the wall that separates him from working for a baseball team and almost certain induction into the Hall of Fame.
Rose was banned from baseball in 1989 after he was caught betting on baseball as well as other professional sports.
Investigations were ongoing and not shining a positive light on Rose’s activities when Commissioner Bart Giamatti arranged an agreement that would allow the game’s all-time hits leader to accept a lifetime ban and put a stop to the investigations that would have likely uncovered much more. Rose was not only a gambler, he was a bad gambler and would often find himself deep in debt to bookies. Bookies are often very accommodating when it comes to finding alternative methods of repayment.
But Rose, who admitted to his misdeeds in 2004 after 15 years of denials, keeps hoping that new commissioners and new fans will remember him better as a gritty, talented player instead of a manager who put the game’s integrity on the line.
I don’t think it will ever happen. I don’t even think it should.
In 2004, when he took some responsibility for his actions, Rose claimed he didn’t realize how bad the punishment could be.
That is strange because about 90 percent of all people ever banned from baseball for life were because of gambling, associating with gamblers or fixing games.
Even the great Mickey Mantle was banned for a couple of years simply for signing autographs in Atlantic City Casinos.
John Dowd piloted the investigation that led to Rose’s permanent banishment from baseball. When others say enough water has passed under the bridge that Rose should be allowed to return, he is not inclined to agree.
“Pete committed the capital crime of baseball. But this is bigger than just Pete Rose,” Dowd said. “There is a reason we haven’t had another gambling case in 26 years. This case wasn’t about Pete -- this case was about protecting the integrity of the game.”
About that ...
The loaded gun of social media may have tagged another victim. Twitter controls how many characters are in each post, but very few people control what goes into those 140 characters.
About 72 hours after Dowd proudly proclaimed that the game had been free of gambling allegations for 26 years, a Florida Marlins pitcher found himself in the middle of claims that the streak was over.
Jarred Cosart is being forced to invoke the only defense to Twitter-related crimes. He was hacked.
About 64.7 percent of all claims of hacked Twitter accounts are fabricated. Also, 47 percent of all statistics related to hacking claims on Twitter are fabricated.
Cosart is accused of sending direct messages regarding gambling on sports to a known sports betting establishment. He says someone hacked his account and made him appear to look guilty.
He deleted his account and opened a new account a few days later – hopefully, he came up with a more clever password for the new account.
If Cosart is caught, he will join Rose on the banned from baseball list. It is unlikely that the accusations against Cosart will help Rose’s cause since it only serves to show that the threat to the game’s integrity is still as real as it was when the Black Sox threw a World Series and when Rose himself bet on the game.
Before becoming an author of books like the “Poseidon Adventure,” Paul Gallico was a sports writer. He once said, “No game in the world is as tidy and dramatically neat as baseball, with cause and effect, crime and punishment, motive and result, so clearly defined.”
That worldview within the game is what makes performance enhancers unpopular and makes punishments severe for those who put America’s pastime in peril.
The Chicago Cubs and St. Louis Cardinals will knock the dust off of the diamond Sunday, April 5, with all other teams playing their first games on Monday, April 6.
The Cubs might win that game, but they will miss the playoffs again.
You can bet on that - unless of course, you are a major league player or manager. Then it wouldn’t be such a good idea.
Kent Bush is publisher of Shawnee (Oklahoma) News-Star and can be reached at kent.bush@news-star.com.