I am not a Pete Rose fan. I did not like him when he played, I did not like him when he coached. His flattening of Ray Fosse in the 1970 All-Star game was disgusting and unnecessary.
So when he was banned from baseball, I could have cared less. But what the baseball commissioner recently said about Rose in denying him reinstatement to baseball was simply nauseating. He said that Rose would be allowed to “…participate in ceremonial activities that present no threat to the integrity of the game…”
Integrity? Baseball? Are you kidding me? More than any other sport, baseball is about millionaires playing for billionaires that could care less about the minions. And to think that the man who has more hits than anyone else in the history of the game is banned from the sport because he bet on baseball is simply ludicrous. He did not kill, rape or assault anyone. Had he done so his punishment would not have been as severe.
Again, I am not a Rose fan, but for integrity to be used as a basis for anything baseball-related is insulting. Barry Bonds is going to coach next season. Who did more to harm the integrity of the game – Bonds or Rose?
Years ago I wrote a column about how professional athletes are entitled to every penny they make. Well, I still feel that way, but those pennies they make will not be coming out of my pocket – not if I can help it. When I wrote that column a big contract was two or three million dollars a year, and those were to big names. Today, there are contracts in the hundreds of millions of dollars to people I have never heard of whose stats could be described as mediocre at best.
And where does that money come from? Not the owners – the fans. Ticket prices, concessions, merchandising fees, sales that fund advertising – all go to support lifestyles that have left opulent in the rear-view mirror. Short of boycotting companies who advertise, I have no say in advertising dollars. But when it costs $75 to see a baseball game – and a hot dog costs more than a ticket cost when I was a kid – I just will not be giving of my limited time or hard-earned dollars to watch the aforementioned millionaires playing for those billionaires.
But it is not just baseball. When this movie on concussions hits the theaters on Christmas Day the NFL is going to get a huge black eye. The league should be embarrassed by the way it treats former players. I am not talking about the modern-day thugs that use their signing bonuses to start bond fires – I am talking about the warriors from 20 or 30 years ago that played for $50,000 a year who can’t even tie their own shoes. There is enough money generated by that sport to pay back the pioneers of the modern era, but not enough backbone to see that it gets done.
And on a more local NFL note, it is so sad to see what has happened to the San Francisco 49ers. Eddie DeBartolo built that franchise into one of the premier franchises in all of sport. But like others before and after him, he got greedy, and to protect the integrity of the game he had to relinquish the team. But he kept it in the family, and that family has ran it right into the ground. What started with keeping Terrell Owens and firing Steve Mariucci and ended with Alex Smith getting the hook for Colin Kaepernick has shown just how far the mighty can fall. I wonder what is going to happen when butts quit filling the seats at Levi Stadium?
What did Smith do wrong? All he did was win. But he was not flashy like Kaepernick. And with the current regime not being smart enough to look past flashy this once proud franchise is now even more of joke than the team across the Bay – and that is a pretty big joke. And as for that team across the Bay, it is about to go away again. And all those rabid fans in the Black Hole will have no place to go on Sundays, while the billionaires will be laughing all the way to the bank.
I can’t leave basketball out of my rant. While professional basketball players have to be the most well-conditioned of any athlete, the game played today bears little resemblance to the game I grew up on as a Boston Celtics fan. The Celtics won the title 11 out of 13 years, and they did so with a trait devoid of most basketball teams today – teamwork.
I quit watching pro basketball Magic Johnson’s rookie season. In the closing seconds of a playoff elimination game, the coach called a play in the huddle where Johnson was to receive an inbounds pass and dish it off – the coach told him under no uncertain terms was he to shoot the ball. What did he do? Shoot the ball. The Lakers lost and the coach was fired. And since then, the me, my and I crowd have made the game difficult to watch.
So I will continue to get my sports fix from youth and high school sports, with some college and minor-league action thrown in for good measure. And although I won’t be lining the pockets of those whose pockets are already overflowing, I don’t think my channeling of funds away from those who need them least will have much of an impact. But at least my fall Sunday afternoons are open now.
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