Heritage Auction Galleries – Today baseball couldn’t hold a candle to football or basketball in terms of its popularity among the wagering public, so there is a certain degree of irony in the fact that the greatest gambling scandals in American sports have been related to our National Pastime. While legends like Michael Jordan, Charles Barkley, Wayne Gretzky and Paul Hornung have encountered varying degrees of trouble in regard to this topic, none has seen his career or reputation affected so significantly as some of the diamond’s greatest stars. Hell hath no fury like baseball scorned.
Major League Baseball has every reason and right to protect its reputation, but its lack of capacity for forgiveness is problematic. The case of Shoeless Joe Jackson is the most glaring example of the game’s stubborn rigidity. Nine decades after an illiterate farmhand was drawn into a plot to throw the World Series the game still holds a grudge, and this despite the fact that Jackson’s services may have earned him an MVP nod had the Sox won the Series (and if such an award existed at the time). The exclusion from the Hall of Fame of the game’s Hit King is perhaps even more difficult to swallow, though likewise is Rose’s suggestion that he should be welcomed into Cooperstown with open arms now that he has finally admitted to twenty years of lies. It’s as if Rose thought that all the baseball world wanted was for him to say “uncle.” But then his nickname isn’t Charlie Humility.
There are quite a few pundits who have theorized that Bart Giamatti, the National League president who relegated Rose to baseball’s Elba, might have overturned his verdict in time, though a fatal heart attack just eight days after the sentence was imposed eliminated the possibility. Today the hope for absolution rests entirely in the hands of Commissioner Bud Selig, a mere foothill compared to Kenesaw Mountain Landis. As disingenous as Rose may have been over the years, he’s a Single-A benchwarmer compared to a man whose recent displays of shock and outrage over the steroid issue are about as convincing as Keanu Reeves’ British accent in Bram Stoker’s Dracula. But perhaps that’s the best proof that baseball really is the American Game—the man at the top always walks away clean.