Friday, January 18, 2013

To Tell The Truth

High and inside -- Bam . . . That's Pete.
Coming soon the stories of some of Baseball's greatest heroes that reside in the Hall of Fame, but in reality, as great as they were on the field.  Their off the field antics are shameful, and in the modern day media and Internet they would be skewered beyond belief.

It is reprehensible Pete Rose is not in the Hall of Fame.  He's an Angel compared to many.  After all, and I will say it again.  Not a one of these self centered Sportswriters, who all have skeletons, yet prove quick to judge, could stand in the box while Bob Gibson threw a slider.

They damn sure can judge, both morally and physically.  Reminds me of the Supreme Court hearings centered around Clarence Thomas and Anita Hill.  And There sits Teddy "Chappaquidick" Kennedy on the panel to judge Clarence.  Get the point . . . .

I wonder who has the most skeletons in the closets, sportswriters or Hall of Famers?

Stay tuned . . . .

Wednesday, January 16, 2013

A tear for Tyrus Raymond Cobb

     A bull-necked man came to visit Ty Cobb one Georgia night.  The man stood stocky, moved with ease, with a surreal purpose as unknown as the future.  Cobb was a loner, he paid the man little attention.  But for some reason, Cobb let him in and offered him a drink.  His German Luger always within his reach.  Even as the man’s brow furrowed and his expressions changed in harmony with Cobb’s thoughts and words, the man portrayed no benevolence, nor hatred, he just looked and listened to a lifetime of pain engulfed in great success.  Words were few that night and why Cobb let the man share his vacuum in space and time that evening proved both unspoken, and understood in a way that only soldiers bonded in battle might share.
     A lone Coyote howl echoed shrill and scathing.  Neither man paid little mind. 

     Ty Cobb was finished with baseball.  But demons still haunted him when the sun dropped below the horizon.  Wind whistled through the Georgia pine trees outside his window, and the moon shone full.  He’d cheated death both on and off the baseball diamond, but there was something different as the wind howled and the gusts bent the pine limbs and turned his thoughts to whispers in a whirlwind.  Melancholy thoughts fueled by the alcohol; he missed the days when Coca-Cola gave him unbridled energy, almost Bull-like.  His early years in baseball never roamed far from his memory.  He clenched his fists.
     He knew to laugh, but at times he wondered why he did such things. He asked himself why.  What possessed him, drove him, so infuriated him that he beat a negro groundskeeper silly, and when the groundskeeper’s wife intervened he commenced to choking her with all the strength he could muster.  Had it not been for his Detroit Tiger teammates, she could have died.  Roger Hornsby might have been pleased as a card carrying member of the KKK, but Cobb felt bittersweet, almost frightened at his fury.  Hell after his son had failed a semester at Princeton, Cobb shuddered from the memory, he flew through the darkness, only to beat his son with a leather whip with the tenacity of an English Sea Captain. 
     Cobb stirred, needing fresh air, and as he opened the door he felt the cool wind blister his face.  Nothing new, just reminded him of days in windy ballparks as he looked to the sky and watched Old Glory whip in the wind.  He could still smell the freshly mowed grass, the pungent aroma of the fertilizer, and musty smell from the water as the two mixed.  Each park had its own smell, some good, some bad.  The smell of popcorn, of beer, the cigar smoke that hung in the air on cool windless days. The smoke from the factories, the smell of the sea, especially the food.  County fairs and carnivals were always close by.  Each brought memories and stirred emotions.  Cobb thought to himself, have I done enough, he’d founded countless scholarship programs, given large amounts of money to bankroll hospitals for the needy.  But was it enough?  He remembers the negro elevator man, his smug attitude, he felt a hot flash, his mind whirring as he brought the liquor to his lips, the numbness, the pain, the emotion . . . hell on earth, outside the diamond, yet smack in the middle of his mind. 

A security guard next to the negro in the elevator smarted off to Cobb, big mistake -- fury fueled, he drove a knife into the guard then twisted the shank.  The fine was only seventy-five dollars, but no one, nobody spoke smart to Cobb, he’d spike’em or stab’em. No holds barred on or off the diamond.
     Cobb knew he was rich as hell, cheaper than dirt too.  He never knew what possessed him to peel the stamps off self-addressed envelopes from autograph seekers and stockpile the stamps in his desk drawer.  Cobb poured the booze in his glass, the rich smoky aroma almost lost in the wind as he swung like a pendulum in his rocker.  A taste, just a taste, he had learned over the years to control his fury, to just sip his bourbon, to lay rest to the thoughts that haunted him.    
     Was his mother really cheating on his father?  And that dark night when his father was supposedly out of town, his dad returned well into the night and put a ladder to his mother’s bedroom window.  His mother shot his father point blank with a shotgun. Cobb’s father dropped like a puppet with it’s strings sliced. 
      The oak smoked bourbon made things better, almost all right.  He sluiced another shot down his throat as it settled in his gut.
     He didn’t need an excuse to beat someone silly, but it was nice, less to explain, no need doddering unnecessarily.  His mind circled around like he’d run the bases a thousand times, most of the time he made it home, many times his mind couldn’t find the corner in a circle.  Leaving him mad, empty, and itching.  For a fight, a hit, a stolen base.  Something fueled his fury.  When several thugs hopped on his car’s running board, with his wife in the passenger seat, he gave them an ass whipping so bad, there’s a rumor one was left for dead; Cobb couldn’t remember his name, John Doe or something.  What the hell.  He left another man for dead in a back alley.  Just another John Doe.
     Seemed the meaner he got the more focused he became, he loved calling Babe Ruth a nigger, it pissed Ruth off till he slobbered mad.  Cobb looked as the moon arced across the sky, chasing stars as it circled the horizon.  Cobb remembered the man that heckled him from the stands, the smart ass bastard, Cobb could feel his body tense, his fingers and palms itching to burn the man’s neck, to beat his face, and watch the blood run red.  How many times had he sat in this very same rocker, file in hand with patience, as he sharpened and shaped every spike attached to his shoes.  Methodically, the front spikes razor pointed and the rear blunted for traction.  Metal filings underfoot were still trapped in the paint.  He beat that man in the stands badly that night as onlookers gasped in gore.  The man was disabled, missing fingers, and part of his hand, no matter.  Cobb said he didn’t care if the man had feet, he meant it.    
     Cobb didn’t need ice for his whiskey, liked it warm, especially on the cool Georgia nights. He’d done it all.  If he had it to do over again, maybe he would have bought more Coca-Cola stock, or perhaps General Motors stock.  Maybe he would have gambled a little less. 
     Hell, probably not.
      Another belt of whiskey lit his pipes as the glass gleamed in the moonlight.  Old “Dutch” Leonard almost rolled over on him and Tris Speaker for betting on Baseball games.  The bastard.  

     Kennesaw Mountain Landis was a racist bastard, son of a bitch, Cobb called called him every word in the book.  Didn’t give a flying-rat’s ass.  Pencil-necked bastard wouldn’t ban him from baseball.  Not unless Landis wanted baseball’s deepest, darkest fears exposed to the sunlight.  Landis wouldn't call Cobb’s bluff.  He knew better. 
     Some things better left alone.

     Cobb tipped the glass in final salute, the whiskey funneled.  Glass empty, Cobb bid the man goodnight.
     Harry Francis Rose stood sternly, missing his son, wanting to go home.  He felt elated and sad, all in the same breath.  He knew his son wouldn’t be perfect.  If his son only mimicked one fault of this man, yet achieved the same greatness as Ty Cobb, would it be asking too much?  He would be forever proud.  Rose would always be there for his son.  Something Ty Cobb surely missed.  Every beat of his heart, every day of his life --  Cobb missed his dad.  Harry Francis Rose knew it.  Kept it boxed in his mind.  He turned into the Georgia wind and walked . . . .

     Peter Edward Rose would win then eat.

     Pete's father would see to it.


Tuesday, January 15, 2013

The Keys to the Kingdom

     The Baseball Writers Association of America holds as much to the keys to the Kingdom, Baseball’s Hall of Fame, as does Congress pulling the strings on appointments for American citizens. It’s an imperfect process, but it’s our process. Many similarities co-exist, and until recently, as in the last fifteen years, the BBWAA ballots for potential Hall of Fame members was about the same number as congressman, and senators. Now the BBWAA is nearing 600 ballot casters who are members.
     The unfortunate thing that prevails is that for all the brilliant writers that follow the sport of baseball with passion, many other writers due to their reassignments, job changes, and promotions that remove them from baseball sport’s writing as their main venue are still left with the ability to cast ballots. It’s not unfair to say that as many political figures outlive their useful purpose in politics, the same applies for HOF ballots cast by individuals that aren’t involved in the day to day play of Baseball.

     A writer is eligible to vote after ten years of tenure, he is allowed only to cast ten votes. Like you have old politicians mixed with new politicians, it’s very rare that at any given time they can agree on one single issue, with a fifty percent or greater number. Just as old and new politicians clash over ideas and values, the sportswriters both new and old have similar culture clashes. Too top it off, the writers must select ten, and only ten baseball players to vote for. With such diverse backgrounds and such a large number of voters, it’s sad to say that 576 writers will even be voting on the same ballplayers.

     The odds of seventy-five percent of the writers picking the same Baseball player are diminishing. They’ve only ten ballots to cast apiece. And as the cast of HOF voters increases, that seventy-five percent margin is harder to achieve thanks to no small part in diversity of opinions. Tyler Kepner wrote a great synopsis of this and it was featured in the New York Times. Here’s a link: Kepner's NYT's article 

Ask a real Ballplayer if Rose should be in the Hall of Fame, not a dreamer like you, or I

     Coming soon, the article that asks the Sportswriters and Cooperstown's elite to reconsider Pete Rose's induction into the Hall Of Fame. And to the Sportswriters, all 576 of you, what compassion lies tucked in your heart that you judge mere mortals that have ascended the very standards of baseball elite.  What editor or publisher extended a hand to you, a job, an opportunity, possibly a scoop.  That gave you a second chance from a poor choice you've made.  How many times have you toiled at a typewriter to meet a deadline, and failed. 

     Pete Rose spilled his guts on a baseball field, he played with injuries that would bring most men to tears.  He dug in when the mound was high and didn't flinch when Bob Gibson hurled a slider. Koufax and Drysdale threw missiles too and it wasn't always at the catcher.  He hustled on that diamond like no man in history ever has.  The only player to take All Star games so seriously besides Gibson, before it meant the home field advantage.  It wasn't about your color or race, with Pete, it was about winning.  He played in 1,972 winning games.  He brought players to new levels, he made mediocre players damn good ones, and good ones great. 

     Smoking and drinking, not Pete.  Kids have been his passion.  He never snubbed fans nor writers.  When a player was down or in a slump. all Rose asked was for them to do their best.  And does Rose really need to kiss people's asses to be recognized for the greatness he achieved on a diamond.  Senators, Congressmen, politicians across the land smoke crack, visit prostitutes, launder money, lie to American citizens, take bribes, fail to pay income taxes, sometimes accidentally, sometimes with malice, many accept bribes, and gifts from lobbyists.  Need more be written.  But Pete Rose proved special to baseball, the old timers loved him, the new-age ball players were awe struck by his tenacity and fire.  He bridged and blended baseball legends from different generations like no player before.  He treated a veteran writer with the same special brand of Rose humanity just as he treated a reporter's first gig.  He wasn't disrespectful to women, he was involved in charities, the needy, the kids that might not be able to afford a glove or set of cleats. Rose was there, and he'd give you the shirt off his back.  Morgan, Aaron, Schmidt, and hundreds of ballplayers want him eligible for the Hall of Fame.

     Something else to ponder, Pete Rose never took steroids, never corked his back, he played every position asked of him, difficult as it may be on a major league level.  Never the pre-madonna as some players that whine and bitch if they don't get their way, or play their position of choice. 

     Hell . . . not Pete.

     It's easy to write about, but standing there crowding the plate, the pressure -- both big games and small ones, Always delivering his best day in and day out.  Arms, knees, shoulders, wrists, a strained back, a groin injury, possibly a sprained ankle.  You got the guts for that, only one person in all of baseball history did it to the tune of Pete Rose's 4200+ hits. and he did it through all adversity.

Now my dearest sportswriters' how many of you have taken a comp meal, got a free room, a dinner, maybe a tip or something well deserved.  Maybe cheated on your wives or girlfriends.  Maybe you lied to a coworker, friend or family.  You're only human, fallible as fauna and flesh.  But we all make mistakes.

Pete Rose is seventy-one years old, nothing like giving a dead soldier a posthumous Medal of Honor.

Love him or hate him, there will never be another, not a player today resembles the brightness of his burn, the tenacity, or possess the desire to win.

Pete gambled, Pete's ashamed of it.  How about you?  Rose has paid his dues. 

Sportswriters . . . Rose deserves a bronze in Cooperstown. 

As God is my witness -- it's the right thing to do. 

Let Rose taste it, he's been hungry enough.

And he damn sure deserves better . . . .

Saddle up this stallion once more for all to see . . . It was the best times for Americans when Pete

Rose peaked at America's grand pastime . . .

"Charlie Hustle"


Betting and Baseball


The 1926 Betting Scandal that involved Tris Speaker, Dutch Leonard, and Ty Cobb is on the books, and as far as Commissioner Kenesaw Mountain Landis saw it, he didn't want to tarnish baseball after the 1919 Chicago White Sox.  The verdict was really a non verdict.  The slate was clean for Ty Cobb to continue his baseball career.

Cobb's arrogant personality was steadfast and well known.  He had fire in his eyes and spoke with his spikes. If Cobb was going down he would go down with a fight. He knew of inside manipulation of the turnstiles, and ticket counting discrepancies.  Baseball didn't want it's dirty laundry hung out to dry in the courtrooms.  Without giving baseball a black eye, Landis relented.

"These players had not been, nor are they now, found guilty of fixing a ball game," Landis stated. "By no decent system of justice could such a finding be made. Therefore, they were not placed on the ineligible list."

Ty Cobb's Letter --

Dear Dutch:

Well, old boy, guess you are out in California by this time and enjoying life.

Wood and myself are considerably disappointed in our business proposition, as we had $2,000 to put into it and the other side quoted us $1,400, and when we finally secured that much money it was about 2 o'clock and they refused to deal with us, as they had bookies in Chicago to take the matter up with and they had not time, so we fell down and of course we felt badly over it.

Everything was open to Wood and he can tell you about it when we get together. It was quite a responsibility and I don't care for it again, I assure you.

I thought the White Sox should have won [the Series], but am satisfied they were too confident. Well, old scout, drop me a line when you can.

Tris Speaker, Dutch Leonard, and Ty Cobb are forever enshrined in the Hall of Fame.

No one, no one played the game harder than Peter Edward Rose.



It measures just 9 inches in circumference, weighs only about 5 ounces, and it made of cork wound with woolen yarn, covered with two layers of cowhide, and stiched by hand precisely 216 times.

It travels 60 feet 6 inches from the pitcher's mound to home--and it can cover that distance at nearly 100 miles an hour. Along the way it can be made to twist, spin, curve, wobble, rise, or fall away.

The bat is made of turned ash, less than 42 inches long, not more than 2 3/4 inches in diameter. The batter has only a few thousandths of a second to decide to hit the ball. And yet the men who fail seven times out of ten are considered the game's greatest heroes.

It is played everywhere. In parks and playground and prison yards. In back alleys and farmers fields. By small children and by old men. By raw amateurs and millionare professionals. It is a leisurely game that demands blinding speed. The only game where the defense has the ball. It follows the seasons, beginning each year with the fond expectancy of springtime and ending with the hard facts of autumn.

Americans have played baseball for more than 200 years, while they conquered a continent, warred with one another and with enemies abroad, struggled over labor and civil rights and the meaning of freedom.

At the games's heart lie mythic contradictions: a pastoral game, born in crowded cities; an exhilarating democratic sport that tolerates cheating and has excluded as many as it has included; a profoundly conservative game that sometimes manages to be years ahead of its time.

It is an American odyssey that links sons and daughters to father and grandfathers. And it reflects a host of age-old American tensions: between workers and owners, scandal and reform, the individual and the collective.

It is a haunted game, where each player is measured by the ghosts of those who have gone before. Most of all, it is about time and timelessness, speed and grace, failure and loss, imperishable hope, and coming home.

Written by Ken Burns and Geoffrey C. Ward

Yes, Baseball is a haunted game, from souls past that ran on green fields now covered by concrete.  By ink quills gone dry, typewriter ribbons buried in landfills, and computer drives in junkyards. 

But memories are etched in minds long after the printed word's demise.

An Open letter to every sportswriter worth their salt. To the elite at Cooperstown's Basesball Hall of Fame that control the turnstiles, and finally to the fans.

Pete Rose is the epitome of Baseball. 

Ask Ty Cobb.