With the ever-controversial Pete Rose’s induction into the Reds Hall of Fame last weekend, I wanted to write a hot take on the young fan’s perspective of Charlie Hustle. It would be captivating, uncompromising, and maybe a bit risque, but then…I came up with nothing. Everything vitriolic that fans and writers have wanted to say about Rose has already been said. At this point, Pete Rose hot takes have been thawed and reheated so many times that only the older generation can still bear to stomach the mush.
To me, born six years after Rose retired for good, the former great is at best a petty annoyance; at worst an eyesore on the organization. He’s a bit like the dad who will flirt with a young waitress in front of his wife. There’s a mild distaste that follows Rose, a certain grime that crawls up my skin every time I hear his name. None of which is intended to be a mark on Pete Rose’s character: A lifetime ban from your career choice does speak for itself after all.
But all of my twice-removed judgement seems a bit unfair: I don’t know Pete Rose and likely never will. That’s why I believe Jason Linden put it best the other day on Twitter, both refusing to pass judgment on Rose and reminding me, and hopefully others, that celebrities are still people and we’re only armchair judges.
But he is clearly very human. He's not a monster nor is he a saint. He's just a guy who was good at baseball.
— Jason Linden (@JasonLinden) June 27, 2016
Yet, I’m not going to write a piece just to say: “Pete Rose is a human being who has made his fair share of mistakes but so have we all and maybe we should let good, ole Charlie ride off into the sunset?” That piece is boring. Also, blatantly wrong.
Yes, Pete is human and has made his fair share of mistakes, but normal human beings are still held accountable for those mistakes. His legacy cannot be untarnished with a wave of the hand and a “boys will be boys” utterance.
And that’s where the impetus for this rambling, contradictory diatribe lies: Can Rose be legendary? Is it possible for him to embody the near mythic status that Reds’ fans have attached to him? Do young fans even want him to be legendary?
Yes, no, and just look at Ronaldo.
Surprisingly, Rose and the Portuguese soccer savant have far more in common than any red-blooded, Skyline chili eating American Reds fan would dare admit.
Both excel at being irrelevant to American audiences–Pete as a retiree, Ronaldo as a soccer player.
Both excel (or excelled) at what they do best.
Both have been undeniably surpassed by a quieter, more “respectable” peer, and both are only loved by those who are forced to put up with them.
So, do young fans want Pete Rose to be legendary? I would say no. We have our Ichiro, who–despite what Twitter eggs and internet trolls may say–has had one of the most impressive Major League Baseball careers in the live ball era. I won’t enter the debate on who is or isn’t the Hit King, but remember that Ichiro has consistently faced harder-throwing, better pitchers during his American career than Rose did in the 80s.
Young fans don’t need Rose to be legendary and, at least in my case, would prefer him not to be. This whole Rose situation has diverted attention from nearly a full generation of Reds stars just by lingering in the background.
Ronaldo may be the best European-born player in the world, but all his fame does is overshadow and belittle the more interesting, albeit less talented players around him. Pete Rose may be the best Reds player in the club’s history, but right now, he just needs to go away.