October 20, 2017

Winnipeg
20° C, Partly cloudy

Full Forecast

Advertisement

Advertise With Us

Bartman exonerated, Rose to live in ignominy

AP Photo/Mark J. Terrill, File</p><p>Former baseball player and manager Pete Rose</p>

AP Photo/Mark J. Terrill, File

Former baseball player and manager Pete Rose

They are the central figures in the two longest continuously running redemption tales in Major League Baseball.

And yet when the long, strange sagas of Steve Bartman and Pete Rose suddenly converged this week, it couldn’t have been in more different ways.

For Bartman, a very special piece of jewelry represented complete vindication for a tortured man. And for Rose, the revelations in a Philadelphia courtroom on Monday established, once and for all, that he will forever live out his days as a pariah.

Let’s begin with the happy news first. The announcement by the Chicago Cubs on Monday that they were awarding Bartman a 2016 World Series ring represented a stunningly complete vindication after more than a decade of vilification that began that fateful night he interfered with a foul ball at Wrigley Field.

Subscribers Log in below to continue reading,
not a subscriber? Create an account to start a 30 day free trial.

Log in Create your account

Add a payment method

To read the remaining 960 words of this article.

Pay only 27¢ for articles you wish to read.

Hope you enjoyed your trial.

Add a payment method

To read the remaining 960 words of this article.

Pay only 27¢ for articles you wish to read.

They are the central figures in the two longest continuously running redemption tales in Major League Baseball.

And yet when the long, strange sagas of Steve Bartman and Pete Rose suddenly converged this week, it couldn’t have been in more different ways.

For Bartman, a very special piece of jewelry represented complete vindication for a tortured man. And for Rose, the revelations in a Philadelphia courtroom on Monday established, once and for all, that he will forever live out his days as a pariah.

Let’s begin with the happy news first. The announcement by the Chicago Cubs on Monday that they were awarding Bartman a 2016 World Series ring represented a stunningly complete vindication after more than a decade of vilification that began that fateful night he interfered with a foul ball at Wrigley Field.

Dubbed by the New York Times as the "most reviled sports fan in history,’ the Cubs stunned everyone — and, especially, their own fans — by awarding a ring from last year’s championship to Bartman, a man who many hold responsible for the complete unravelling of the Cubs that took place in the 2003 playoffs after his half-hearted bid to catch a foul ball denied the Cubs a critical out in Game 6 of that year’s National League Championship Series.

The Florida Marlins went on, of course, to rally for a win in Game 6 and then a series win in Game 7, before going on — to the horror of long-suffering Cubs fans and, especially, Bartman — to win the World Series that October.

Bartman had been persona non grata in Cubs Nation ever since. When Halloween rolls around each fall, creatively challenged Windy City party-goers throw on a Cubs ballcap, a set of Walkman headphones and a baseball glove... and become the most hated fan in sports. Or at least in Illinois.

But that costume won’t work now without a World Series ring added to the ensemble.

It was a supremely generous gesture by the Cubs, made all the more remarkable by the fact it came at a distinctly uncharitable time in our history when the internet seems to thrive on distilling everyone’s life down to the worst thing they ever did.

And, in the process, the Cubs simultaneously made right a historic wrong that all but the dumbest of baseball fans had long since acknowledged: a series of Cubs blunders that followed the Bartman foul ball, especially the booting of an easy double-play ball, had a lot more to do with them blowing their long-awaited chance at a championship in 2003 than Bartman doing what any fan would do in that situation — reach up and try to catch a foul pop coming down right on top of you.

The irony, of course, was that Bartman’s redemption tale came to a heartfelt ending this week at exactly the same time another, vastly more complicated, quest for redemption in baseball was coming to a very different and much darker ending.

In this Oct 14, 2003, file photo, Steve Bartman, top center, catches a ball as Chicago Cubs left fielder Moises Alou's arm is seen reaching into the stands, at right, against the Florida Marlins in the eighth inning during Game 6 of the National League championship series Tuesday, Oct. 14, 2003, at Wrigley Field in Chicago. The Cubs announced Monday, July 31, 2017, they were giving a 2016 World Series championship ring to Bartman, the fan remembered for deflecting a foul ball that appeared destined to land in left fielder Moises Alou's glove with Chicago five outs from the World Series in 2003. (AP Photo/Morry Gash, File)</p>

In this Oct 14, 2003, file photo, Steve Bartman, top center, catches a ball as Chicago Cubs left fielder Moises Alou's arm is seen reaching into the stands, at right, against the Florida Marlins in the eighth inning during Game 6 of the National League championship series Tuesday, Oct. 14, 2003, at Wrigley Field in Chicago. The Cubs announced Monday, July 31, 2017, they were giving a 2016 World Series championship ring to Bartman, the fan remembered for deflecting a foul ball that appeared destined to land in left fielder Moises Alou's glove with Chicago five outs from the World Series in 2003. (AP Photo/Morry Gash, File)

The revelation in a court filing Monday that Pete Rose admitted having sex with a teenager back in the early 1970s has finally and, almost certainly irrevocably, slammed shut the door on whatever slim chance remained to rehabilitate his name and have Major League Baseball lift its ban on him.

Here’s everything you need to know about where Rose’s life is right now: When he was confronted, during an ongoing civil suit, with a woman’s sworn statement that Rose had sex with her in 1973 when she was just 14, Rose’s defence was that he was pretty sure it was in 1975 when the sex occurred, meaning the girl was actually 16 at the time.

And, Rose’s defence continued, that kind of thing is thing is legal in Ohio.

So, like... wow.

Even if you believe Rose’s version of events, that means he is admitting that in 1975, when he was a 34-year-old man, in the 12th year of his big-league career and married with two children, he was having sex with a 16-year-old girl.

I don’t care what the state of Ohio says about whether it meets the definition of statutory rape; engaging in that kind of conduct with a 16 year old is, simply, reprehensible.

And the fact Rose has now not only admitted in court documents to doing it but is actually brandishing it as a defence he thinks somehow exonerates him, tells me way more about the irredeemable contemptibility of Pete Rose than all those betting-on-baseball allegations that got him banned from the game back in 1989.

It is supremely fitting for the allegation likely to finally end Rose's — and his fans' — quest to get the ban lifted so he can be admitted to baseball’s hall of fame came in a lawsuit that Rose filed against John Dowd.

Dowd, you may remember, was the special counsel for Major League Baseball back in the 1980s who led the investigation that concluded Rose bet on baseball.

Rose filed a defamation suit against Dowd last year after he said in a 2015 radio interview that Rose had underage girls delivered to him during his playing days.

Unfortunately for Rose, truth is an absolute defence in defamation cases, and Dowd was able to secure a sworn statement from a woman supporting his contention that Rose engaged in sex with young teenagers.

And with that, the rehabilitation of Rose’s "good name" is over. Whatever traction Rose had gained over the past couple of years in his decades-long campaign to be reinstated by baseball — he was hired by Fox Sports as a baseball analyst in 2015 and inducted into the Cincinnati Reds Hall of Fame along with his number last year — has vanished.

Yes, Las Vegas has two new pro sports teams. Yes, governments are sanctioning sports betting all over North America. And yes, there is a case to be made that Rose is being punished as much for what the Black Sox did in 1919 as what Rose did in the 1980s.

But there is no world in which someone using the defence of, ‘Honest, I thought she was 16’ is going to be forgiven.

Indeed, the only question remaining now is how long it’s going to take the Philadelphia Phillies to cancel an Aug. 12 ceremony they had planned to induct Rose into their wall of fame.

Good luck selling that plan to your female fans, parents and any other Phillies fan with anything even remotely resembling a moral compass.

No, this will forever be remembered as the week that Pete Rose was finally served justice and Steve Bartman was finally remedied an injustice.

They both had it coming to them.

 

paul.wiecek@freepress.mb.ca

Twitter: @PaulWiecek

Read more by Paul Wiecek.

Advertisement

Advertise With Us

History

Updated on Wednesday, August 2, 2017 at 7:50 AM CDT: Edited

You can comment on most stories on The Winnipeg Free Press website. You can also agree or disagree with other comments. All you need to do is be a Winnipeg Free Press print or e-edition subscriber to join the conversation and give your feedback.

Have Your Say

New to commenting? Check out our Frequently Asked Questions.

Have Your Say

Comments are open to The Winnipeg Free Press print or e-edition subscribers only. why?

Have Your Say

Comments are open to The Winnipeg Free Press Subscribers only. why?

The Winnipeg Free Press does not necessarily endorse any of the views posted. By submitting your comment, you agree to our Terms and Conditions. These terms were revised effective January 2015.