SweetSpot: Pete Rose
It's a very special edition of SweetSpot TV as Eric Karabell and myself discuss Mr. Derek Jeter. At the age of 38, Jeter is having a terrific season at the plate, hitting .321 and leading the American League in hits. We raise the question: Is Derek Jeter the greatest shortstop of all time?
One point of comparison with Cal Ripken: Even though Ripken has outhomered Jeter 431 to 254, Jeter has a big offensive edge. Jeter's career oWAR (offense Wins Above Replacement) on Baseball-Reference.com is 91.1 compared to Ripken's 72.8, a nearly 20-win advantage. B-R's defensive metrics, however, give a huge edge to Ripken, as Jeter rates below replacement level at minus-8.3 wins compared to Ripken's plus-34.5 wins. That defense gives Ripken a huge edge in career WAR. Do you believe Ripken was 40 wins better on defense over the course of their careers?
Also, check out Dan Szymborski's Insider story on Jeter's chances of reaching 4,000 hits and catching Pete Rose's career total.
1. After hitting Marco Scutaro in the head with a pitch, was Stephen Strasburg afraid to pitch inside?
2. From fast and young to slow and ... well, you know, Jamie Moyer found work, again.
3. Wade Miley, NL All-Star? Yep!
4. Why do I want Derek Jeter to get more hits than Peter Edward Rose?
5. How are the fans doing for the AL All-Star voting?
6. What should we expect from Anthony Rizzo as he’s set for his Cubs debut?
7. David Ortiz, Hall of Famer? Other than in nickname, how does he compare with Edgar Martinez?
8. Ozzie Guillen catches a big mistake and still loses the game.
9. What does the future look like for Justin Smoak?
10. Are the Orioles playoff-bound?
It really was a packed Tuesday edition of the Baseball Today podcast, so download and enjoy. Dave and I will return Wednesday!
Which leads me to this set of facts:
1. Ichiro Suzuki has 2,488 hits with the Mariners.
2. Suzuki had 1,278 hits in Japan.
That's 3,766 "major league" hits for Suzuki, 490 behind Rose, the self-appointed "Hit King."
OK, Ichiro hasn't exactly rebounded from his .272 season in 2011, hitting .261 so far. Still, 4,256 seems reachable. If he gets another 120 hits this year that would leave him 370 behind Rose, or two-plus seasons in all likelihood. He'd be 41 in that third season. For now, let's assume he finds way to get 500 more major league hits.
It depends, of course, how much you want to discount his Japan totals. But is it fair to do so? Ichiro came over to the U.S. when he was 27 and immediately led the AL in hits, won the batting title and captured the MVP Award. He'd been a star in Japan since he was 20, when he set a then-record with 210 hits. In fact, it's likely Ichiro would have had more hits had he started in the U.S. when he was 20, since Japan played a 130-game season when he was active there.
What do you think?
Before the question is raised, I consider this a far different argument than Sadaharu Oh's 868 home runs. Oh played in a league with shorter fences and, unlike Ichiro, never played in the U.S. We don't know exactly how he would have fared in the U.S. We know what Ichiro did. In my book, if Ichiro lasts long enough to pass Rose, I hope Pete shows up to the record-breaking game and passes the title along.
Player A is Raines. Player B is Tony Gwynn. That final column is times reached base. Yes, Raines reached base more often in his career than Gwynn, in just slightly more plate appearances. I'm not the first writer to come up with that comparison. Joe Posnanski, among others, is especially fond of this factoid. The point of the statistic isn't to bring down Gwynn, rather to show how potent and devastating an offensive player Raines was. The arc of his game was a little different than Gwynn's but the results are similar: Gwynn got more singles, Raines walked more and had a little more power. He was one of the great base stealers of all time and scored more runs in his career than Gwynn.
That's what Raines did: He scored runs. He's 51st on the all-time list and of the 50 players ahead of him, all eligible candidates are in the Hall of Fame except for Jimmy Ryan and George Van Haltren, two 1890s outfielders; turn-of-the-century shortstop Bill Dahlen; and Rafael Palmeiro.
A common refrain about Raines from his advocates is that he was one of the best players in baseball over a span in the 1980s. This isn't some after-the-fact hocus-pocus going on. It was widely believed at the time. In a 1984 Sports Illustrated piece on Raines, Pete Rose said: "Right now he's the best player in the National League. Mike Schmidt is a tremendous player and so are Dale Murphy and Andre Dawson, but Rock can beat you in more ways than any other player in the league. He can beat you with his glove, his speed and his hitting from either side of the plate." In his annual Baseball Abstracts, Bill James often argued the case of Raines' all-around brilliance. Raines finished fifth, sixth and seventh in MVP votes, despite playing for mediocre Expos teams.
Raines' five-year peak was 1983 to 1987. According to Baseball-Reference's WAR ranking, the top five players during those years were Wade Boggs (39.7), Rickey Henderson (34.1), Cal Ripken (33.3), Schmidt (31.4) and Raines (30.7). Pretty nice company. (The next five were Alan Trammell, Gwynn, Eddie Murray, Murphy and Keith Hernandez.)
To be fair, this alone doesn't make him a Hall of Famer. I checked every five-year period since 1969 (1969 to 1973, 1970 to 1974, etc.) and not all of the names that appear in the top five are Hall of Famers or future Hall of Famers. Heck, Sal Bando rated as the best player in baseball from 1969 to 1973.
Some characterize Raines as having too short of a peak level of dominance. From 1988 to 1995, he averaged .283/.375/.409, with 81 runs and 33 steals per season. Maybe not an MVP candidate anymore, but still a good player, top leadoff hitter and valuable contributor. He's hardly alone in this aspect. He had six seasons with an OPS+ of 130 or higher, the same as Jim Rice, Dawson and Ernie Banks, and more than Kirby Puckett, Roberto Alomar, Johnny Bench, Carlton Fisk, Yogi Berra, Tony Perez or Robin Yount.
Maybe Raines doesn't have a slum-dunk case. But he has a case. Maybe voters have forgotten his great years in Montreal (and they have forgotten; he received only 37 percent of the vote last year). Maybe they remember his final seasons with the Yankees, when he became a part-time player on two World Series champions. Maybe they can't believe he compares favorably with Tony Gwynn.
Anyway, Longoria was back in the cleanup spot Tuesday night (Zobrist hit leadoff) and delivered the game-winning two-run home run off Arthur Rhodes in the bottom of the eighth to give Tampa a 5-4 victory. The towering shot barely cleared the fence, just enough to give the Rays only their sixth win in the past 16 games.
"We haven't really been playing the best baseball, but we have to find a way to win," Longoria said after the game. The Rays won despite walking five batters and committing two errors, including one from Longoria. But a win is a win. "As Joe says," Longoria added, "there is no such thing as an ugly win."
It's that attitude that allows Maddon to make decisions like hitting Longoria leadoff. There are still many managers who just put their fastest guy in the No. 1 spot ... no matter his actual ability to getting on base. Take Dusty Baker, for example. He's managed 17 years in the major leagues and only twice have his leadoff hitters produced an on-base percentage above .350 -- in 1998 (Darryl Hamilton and Marvin Benard) and 1999 (Benard). In 11 of those 17 seasons, his leadoff guys have produced on OBP below .330. Dusty just picks a fast guy and make him the leadoff hitter. (Even now with the Reds, the fact that Drew Stubbs has power is just a bonus. Stubbs is also the fastest guy on the team.)
What I'd like to see are more cases in which a manager tries the unconventional when he lacks the conventional leadoff hitter. A few examples:
Brian Downing, 1982 Angels: Downing was a former catcher turned bulked-up left fielder. Gene Mauch hit Downing leadoff because he got on base, and even though he had just two stolen bases, Downing scored 109 runs and the Angels won a division title.
Wade Boggs, 1986 Red Sox: Boggs didn't hit leadoff the entire season, but led the team in games batting leadoff and was in that spot in the order in the playoffs. In 1988 and '89, he hit leadoff most of the time and -- despite his notorious lack of speed -- led the AL in runs scored both seasons.
1950s Yankees: Casey Stengel never really had a regular leadoff, often using guys without much speed in the spot. But he used guys who got on base, mixing and matching based on the opposing starter. In the 1951 World Series, he used four different leadoff hitters (including a rookie Mickey Mantle twice); in 1952, three different guys; in 1953, two; in 1955, five.
Akinora Iwamura, 2008 Rays: Maddon had three guys with more speed than Iwamura -- Carl Crawford, B.J. Upton and Jason Bartlett -- but he stuck with Iwamura in the No. 1 spot. He drew 70 walks and led the team in runs scored.
Pete Rose, 1975 and 1976 Reds: Sparky Anderson had two prototypical leadoff hitters in Joe Morgan and Ken Griffey Sr., but he wanted Morgan's bat in the middle of the order and the speedy Griffey in the No. 2 hole. So Rose hit leadoff every game in 1975, posted a .406 OBP and scored 112 runs -- without stealing a single base. In '76, he posted a .404 OBP and scored 130 runs. The Reds won the World Series both years.
Before he received a much harsher penalty in 1989, Pete Rose was suspended on this day in 1988 for shoving umpire Dave Pallone during an argument three days prior. The suspension was controversial enough -- the longest in baseball history at the time since Leo Durocher had been suspended for the entire 1947 season for associating with gamblers -- that Sports Illustrated put Rose on its cover.
The incident occurred in the top of the ninth on April 30, in a game against the New York Mets. Pallone hesitated in making a call at first base, eventually ruling that first baseman Nick Esasky had pulled his foot from the bag, which allowed Howard Johnson to score what proved to be the deciding run in a 6-5 Mets victory. During the argument, Pallone accidentally hit Rose in the cheek with his finger and Rose responded with a forearm shiver. Reds fans responded by littering the field with garbage, causing a 14-minute delay.
In the Sports Illustrated article, third baseman Buddy Bell had a rather ominous quote: "It would be one thing if Pete was a constant problem. But this is his 28th year in baseball, and they're treating him like a convict."
Follow David Schoenfield on Twitter at @dschoenfield. Follow the SweetSpot blog at @espn_sweet_spot.
On the other hand, I paused at the museum’s display of the hate mail directed at Jackie Robinson and was left slackjawed. The violence expressed in these letters is a part of our history, a tragic part, but a part that needs to be remembered. These were not proud moments for America or for baseball. However, we need to see and remember the good and the bad.
It’s wonderful that the Hall of Fame documents the history of baseball, even the worst parts. This is the part of the mission of the Hall that we don’t talk much about. We talk about how Pete Rose should or should not be in the Hall of Fame, but Rose already is represented -- in the museum. So is Manny Ramirez. So is Barry Bonds. Their memorabilia feature prominently in exhibits in the museum, even if their plaques aren't (and won't) be hanging in the Gallery. I was able to point my boys to Rose’s jersey in an exhibit and explain to them who he was, what he did on the field and the things he did off the field which keep him otherwise outside this institution.
As I walked through the Hall, I thought about whether this is the best way to remember players who had Hall of Fame-quality careers but whose involvement with performance-enhancing drugs will likely prevent them from being inducted into the Hall. I won’t argue here whether this ban is right or wrong; I simply assume that the ban will continue for quite some time. So long as the ban is in place, players like Bonds and Ramirez are represented by the bats they used, the balls they hit, and the helmets they wore. If you want to see Manny’s 2004 tarred-up helmet, it’s there on display but it doesn’t tell Manny’s whole story.
I think if we’re going to ban the better part of a generation of baseball players from admission to the Hall of Fame, then the Hall should dedicate permanent exhibit space to an explanation of the ban. If it’s cheating we mean to condemn, then let’s have the Hall devote exhibit space to condemn the cheaters -- of all the cheaters, not just the guys who took drugs, but the guys who bet on baseball and threw baseball games, even the guys who scuffed up the baseball when no one was looking. If we mean to condemn the misuse of prescription and recreational drugs, then let’s devote exhibit space to this, too.
It might be that we don’t agree on the reasons for the ban, or whether there should be a ban at all. We’ve said for years that it would take time to develop the perspective necessary to understand the so-called steroids era. Well, we’ve had time. Let’s present all views and let the museum-goers reach their own conclusions.
If we’re going to ban the better part of a baseball generation from the Hall, it’s going to leave a gaping hole in the Hall’s gallery of baseball greats. Perhaps the big names from the Steriod Era will never be elected to the Hall. That doesn't mean their stories and stats and memories should be struck from the baseball consciousness -- we still need to tell their stories. You don’t leave a hole in an historic site without an explanation. An exhibit explaining steroids would at least give me a place to take my sons and tell them the story of how baseball was played when I was a young adult. That’s a good story, an interesting one, full of ups and downs, with its share of villains and fallen heroes. It's a story worth telling.
Jason Rosenberg is the founder and editor of ESPN’s Sweetspot Network NY Yankees affiliate: It’s About The Money. You can follow him on Twitter and his team on Facebook. Larry Behrendt also contributed to this article and can also be followed on Twitter.
And that's the main reason, when it was revealed he had bet on the game, I had no forgiveness in my heart. I had nothing to fall back on. No good memories of Rose that would help humanize him even a little. And over the years, as he continued to lie about his activities, and eventually try to profit off finally telling the truth, I found him increasingly distasteful. That's my problem, and that's why I don't much cotton to Charlie Hustle. But as I look at baseball fans who continue to marvel at his career, I wish I did. Just a little. I feel like I’m missing something.
Why do I bring this up? Of course, because of Manny Ramirez and his sudden retirement today. Because it's important to start deciding now, or in five, 10, 20 years ... how are you going to remember Manny Ramirez? What is the first thing you're going to think of when you think back to Manny's career? Is it his youth and 165 RBIs in 1999 for Cleveland? Is it peppering balls at and over The Green Monster and winning two World Series with Boston? Is it his brief resurgence in Mannywood, where he lifted the Dodgers into the playoffs almost single-handedly? Is it the sound of the ball off his bat? Or the dreadlocks sprouting from beneath his helmet? Or is it this, this end, this sad finish? Really, if that's what you choose to remember, I feel sorry for you.
This is not an apology for Ramirez, nor a defense. Taking banned substances, especially in this era, is a defenseless decision that has hurt Manny's team and ended his career. It's inexcusable and stupid. But there was so much more to Manny that is worth remembering.
First and foremost, he was one of the most dangerous right-handed hitters in baseball history, and finished his career in the top ten righties in virtually every category that we use to measure overall hitting performance. He hit 555 homers and drove in more than 1,800 runs. He hit .312 and got on base 41 percent of the time. He was, quite simply, among the elite batters in baseball history.
Too often I, and other online writers, get accused of getting too buried in the numbers. Maybe it's just better to try to figure out Manny's impact, as so many have tried to do with Jack Morris and Jim Rice. You want feared? Manny twice led the American League in intentional walks, and finished with more than 20 four times. In the postseason he was excellent, hitting .285 with 29 homers (more than anyone else in history), and was the MVP of the 2004 World Series. He was selected to 12 All-Star teams and won nine Silver Sluggers. And he finished in the top five of the MVP vote four times.
He also leaves his mark as one in a long list of characters that have made baseball great over the past century and a half, evoking memories of King Kelly, Rube Waddell, Dizzy Dean and Mark Fidrych. Men who were simultaneously loved and hated (well, not Fidrych). Who frustrated everyone around them, except on the diamond, and who made baseball's history richer.
I hope that, if you’re a real baseball fan, watching Manny Ramirez hit gave you a little bit of joy (and maybe a little bit of dread, if he was facing your team). I hope you loved it and marveled at it. And, more importantly today, I hope that remember how happy he made you, or how much you may have laughed because of him. And I hope that, just a little bit, you thank him for it.
The Common Man writes for The Platoon Advantage on the SweetSpot Blog Network and spreads the word in 140 characters or less on Twitter.
Photo of the Day
Things change. Johnson, who was No. 1 in career strikeouts when I was a boy (in fact, was the tops from 1921 through 1983), is No. 9 today. Steve Carlton passed him first, then Nolan Ryan leapfrogged Carlton and obliterated the mark, finishing with 5,714. Besides Johnson, just one pre-World War II pitcher is left in the top 20. That's Cy Young, resting in 20th place with 2,803.
With marriage and three children, I'm forced to live much more in the present than maybe I'd like to, especially from a baseball standpoint. It's been years since I've luxuriated in the career tables like I did in the past -- one of life's simple pleasures lost to a much more complex existence. And so when I turned my attention to the career strikeout leaders today, it didn't surprise me much that so much change had occurred.
But when I looked over at the career hit leaders, I was taken aback -- by the utter stability of it all. It was as if it were frozen in time, but the truth is, that top-10 list is a boulder that would not be moved.
It was just as I left it as a single man. The most recent player to break into the top 10 was Paul Molitor, whose major league career began before my 11th birthday and ended back in 1998. Carl Yastrzemski was the only other top-10er to play into my teen years.
I mean, I don't know what I was expecting -- and those of you with healthier attention spans will think me a fool for being the least bit surprised, so forgive me -- but how wonderful, how glorious, how … viscerally energizing it was to see these names hold up over time. Rose and Cobb and their angry, cantankerous 4,000-plus hit careers. The classy Hammerin' Hank and Stan the Man holding strong in third and fourth. The classic old-timers -- Speaker, Cap Anson, Honus Wagner -- in the meat of the lineup at 5-7. At eight and nine, Yaz and Molitor, young whippersnappers even as they court the AARP demographic.
And then … this was my favorite. No. 10, with 3,315 hits: Eddie Collins. To my utter shame, I haven't given Eddie Collins a nanosecond of thought in years. My mind has been too polluted by extraneous, worthless details like work and family to give Collins the time of day -- and yet there he sits, steady as granite. Mays couldn't catch him. Murray and Ripken couldn't catch him. Yount and Gwynn, Winfield and Biggio, Henderson and Carew, Brock and Palmeiro and Boggs … all playing in the 162-game era, many with the designated hitter rule in their right pocket, and none could touch Collins, born in 1887, christened in 1906, retired by 1930. When he passed away in 1951, he was fifth all-time in hits. Sixty years later, he's lost only five spots.
Soon, Collins might finally face his top-10 eviction notice. Derek Jeter has 2,926 career hits, more than any ballplayer at age 36 since Yount, two decades ago. By July, Jeter will probably break 3,000 and (with all the subtle media coverage of a moon landing) become the 28th man to reach that milestone, leaving him perhaps no more than two years away from Collins. Behind Jeter looms Alex Rodriguez, barely 600 hits from Collins and Molitor at age 34.
After that? Maybe 36-year-old Ichiro Suzuki has more than 1,000 hits left in him to catch Yastrzemski. Quite possibly, 30-year-old Albert Pujols , who has 1,900 hits in his first decade, picks up close to the same in his second, knocking out Wagner.
And so maybe that stability on the all-time hits list is headed by the wayside. Hours ago, I wouldn't have known what I missed. But now I wonder … I miss Walter Johnson in that No. 1 spot. Is it that crazy that I might miss Eddie Collins at No. 10?
If it is, all I can say is that's the same kind of crazy that made me the baseball fan I am today.
Jon Weisman writes about the Dodgers at Dodger Thoughts for ESPNLosAngeles.com. Follow him on Twitter.
- And don't even get him started on Ichiro, who trails Rose by more than 2,000 hits.
"Do you realize that Ichiro has had three or four seasons where about 27, 28 percent of his hits are infield hits? The guy has to be the luckiest guy in the history of the world to get that many infield hits!"
Q: Ichiro had 1,278 hits in Japan. Should those count?
"OK, you gonna let me go over to Japan and play for five or six years? Nothing against Japanese baseball, but it's basically Triple-A ball."
Leaving aside Rose's take (which is silly) on infield hits, he's at least somewhat correct about Japanese baseball: It's not Major League Baseball.
But when Ichiro did get his chance to play Major League Baseball, he immediately collected more hits (242) and batted higher (.350) than Pete Rose ever did in a single season. I certainly wouldn't argue that Ichiro's hits in Japan should "count" ... but doesn't his rookie season suggest that he could have done some amazing things in these majors before he actually did?
In Ichiro's first five seasons with the Mariners, he averaged 226 hits per season. Let's assume he was good enough to play in the majors at 22 -- the age at which Pete Rose was a rookie -- and let's assume, further, that he would have averaged 200 hits per season in his first five seasons.
That would give him 3,213 hits right now, at 36.
At the end of his Age 36 season, Rose had 2,966 hits.
Of course, we don't know if Ichiro will finish as strong as Rose did.
But earlier today I wrote about the requisite recipe for reaching 4,000 hits ... and somehow I forgot the most obvious extent example.
Ichiro has it all. He's incredibly durable. He's incredibly talented. He's a leadoff man who doesn't walk much (he walks significantly less often than Rose did). If you were looking for a single player on the planet who might collect 4,000 hits and perhaps even challenge Charlie Hustle's record, this is exactly the player you would choose.
Except for one thing: This player was born in the wrong country.
Maybe the next one won't be.
Since then, nobody's approached 4,000 hits, let alone Rose's career-ending total (4,256).
To answer that question, it's instructive to list the qualities that allowed Rose to reach those lofty marks. It took, among other things, a great deal of skill, a great deal of luck, and a great deal of ... well, of whatever made Pete Rose Pete Rose.
That's a tall order for any other player to fill.
Let's take those in order ...
Rose debuted in the majors in 1963, a few days before his 22nd birthday, and would eventually be named Rookie of the Year. Twenty years later, he played every day for a World Series team. In between, Rose posted a .306 batting average, won three batting titles and one MVP Award.
His skills did not include a proclivity for drawing walks, which might have hurt his on-base percentage but probably helped his ability to pile up huge numbers of hits. Rose topped 200 hits in 10 different seasons and paced the National League seven times in that category. He didn't walk much or hit many home runs, but the man could put the ball in play (and with some authority; he led the National League in doubles five times and still ranks second on the all-time list).
Of course, nobody plays for as long -- and as often -- as Rose did without a little luck. In Rose's first 20 (non-strike) seasons he averaged 157 games per season. Essentially, he was nearly as durable as Cal Ripken ... but for five more seasons.
It helped that Rose was Rose. He once told the writers, "I haven't missed a game in two and a half years. I go to the park sick as a dog and, when I see my uniform hanging there, I get well right now. Then I see some of you guys and I get sick again."
Rose loved baseball. Rose loved to compete. Rose loved to play. He once said he would "walk through hell in a gasoline suit to keep playing baseball." He once said, "Playing baseball for a living is like having a license to steal."
Once, when given a one-game rest by his manager -- when he was 42 years old -- Rose said, "So what do I do now? How do I rest? Do I sit on the bench? Do I stand? I wish somebody could tell me how to rest."
Most players want to play, and for as long as they can. But Pete Rose needed to play. He needed the action. And for more than two decades, that compulsion led to all those games and all those at-bats and all those hits.
Oh, that's another thing. If you're going to clear 4,000 hits you're going to need a lot of at-bats, and it'll help a great deal if you're fast enough to lead off. He might have been something like a fire hydrant, but Rose ran fairly well and led off in roughly two-thirds of his games.
It didn't hurt, either, that for the last couple of years of his playing career, Rose was filling out the lineups as Cincinnati's player-manager. Even at 44, Rose remained a reasonably effective hitter, but catching Ty Cobb would have been slightly more difficult with a manager whose priority was to win games rather than set records.
A few years ago -- OK, let's be honest: one year ago -- it didn't seem completely crazy to suggest that Derek Jeter might someday reach 4,000 hits, if not challenge Pete Rose's record.
Today, it seems crazy. Jeter's got the talent. With the exception of one season (2003) he's had the luck. He was fairly young when he reached the majors; like Rose, Jeter was Rookie of the Year at 22.
The problem is that Jeter's flagging this season and he's only 36. When Pete Rose was 36, he was just beginning a four-year run that saw him average 199 hits per season. And in the fifth year, when he was 41, Rose led the National League with 140 hits in a strike-shortened season.
A year ago, it seemed that Derek Jeter might play forever. This year, it seems that he's human. Which is perfectly understandable. Except being human won't get you to 4,000 hits.
- The Reds have secured permission to honor Pete Rose on the 25th anniversary of him breaking Ty Cobb's all-time hit record.
In an ironic twist, Rose's first official appearance on the field in Cincinnati since his ban from baseball for gambling in 1989 isn't likely to come on the actual anniversary of his greatest achievement as a player. Rose has commitments to Hollywood Casino in Lawrenceburg, Ind., on Sept. 11, which is 25 years to the day he passed Ty Cobb with hit No. 4,192.
The Reds likely will move the celebration to Sept. 12. The club is home from Sept. 10-15. Rose also has commitments to Hollywood Casino on Sept. 10.
It is significant in it will be the first time Rose is honored on the field in Cincinnati since his ban from baseball in 1989.
Rose was not on the field when the Reds honored the 1975 team in 2000, nor was he part of the official closing of Riverfront Stadium/Cinergy Field in 2002, although a crowd in excess of 41,000 came to watch Rose take part in an old-timers softball game the day after the Reds' last game at Cinergy.
This is a good thing, if only because it finally (sort of) balances Selig's previous decision to allow Rose to appear during Major League Baseball's All-Century Team celebration, but not during any Cincinnati-specific events.
This is an ironic thing, considering the reason for delaying Rose's appearance until the 12th.
And this is a historical thing, because Rose did not break Ty Cobb's record on the 11th of September. According to the most reliable information we have now, Cobb collected 4,189 hits in his career, not the 4,191 with which he was credited in 1985. Which means Rose actually passed Cobb not on the 11th, with his single against San Diego's Eric Show, but rather three days earlier at Wrigley Field with a first-inning single against Reggie Patterson.
The Cubs host the Astros on the 8th next month. Do you think the Reds would be willing to move their big celebration to the North Side of Chicago?
- A friend of mine, one who’s not a Yankees fan, recently said to me, “Derek Jeter has nothing left to prove. He’s done everything.” My thoughts immediately turned to one milestone that belongs in Cooperstown: The all-time hits record. I’m not here to debate whether Pete Rose deserves to be in the HOF. I am here to answer the question, “Does Jeter have any chance of catching Pete Rose?”
Through Rose’s first 14 seasons, he played in 61 more games than Jeter and accumulated only 15 more hits. For the sake of argument, we can pretty much say that Jeter is about in the same position that Rose was at this point of his career.
Rose went on to play 10 more years. He played in 1,378 games in those seasons, slapping 1,494 base knocks to give him a total of 4,256. Simple math tells us that Rose averaged slightly more than 149 hits per season on the back end of his career. Rose played until the age of 45, and his production didn’t begin to drop off significantly until the last four years of his career. The six seasons prior to that, he failed to have more than 170 hits only once (in 1981 when MLB experienced a work stoppage due to a player strike).
Despite all of the statistics, this argument unfortunately boils down to nothing more than speculation. I’ve learned over the past 14 seasons never to doubt or second guess Derek Jeter. When you do, he’s right there to prove you wrong. When people began to doubt his ability to be an above average defensive shortstop, he worked that much harder to stay sharp and get better. This has nothing to do with, “Is Jeter a better player than Rose?” Pete Rose, while he may have serious character flaws, was one incredible hitter. However, I believe that if Derek Jeter has the desire to continue playing baseball at the age of 43 — the age he would be after eight more seasons – and if the New York Yankees continue to put a championship caliber team on the field, and if he stays healthy, then Derek Jeter will join the 4,000 hit club and eventually surpass Pete “Charlie Hustle” Rose for the most hits ever by a Major League player.
I know that we're supposed to throw reasoned discourse out the window when we're talking about Derek Jeter, and I'm happy to admit that his MVP-caliber 2009 surprised the mucus out of me.
But let's try, you know, to think about this with a modicum of rigor.
According to Bill James' Favorite Toy method, Jeter has not established a measurable chance to break Rose's record. That said, he does have a six-percent chance of reaching 4,000 hits. Which leads to the obvious question: Is 4,257 hits really so many more than 4,000?
And the obvious answer: Yes. When you're 43 or 44, 257 is an awful lot of hits.
The other problem is one of context. It's not just incredibly uncommon for a player to collect nearly 1,500 hits after turning 36, as Pete Rose did. It's also incredibly uncommon for a player to play regularly or semi-regularly into his mid 40s, as Rose did. And of course he was able to do that because a) he played first base, and 2) he managed his own team for the last 203 games of his playing career.
Now, let's think about how Derek Jeter's career is likely to play out. One, everyone seems to think that Jeter will retire as a Yankee; that they'll do anything keep him around and that he won't be interested in playing elsewhere. Two, he's a shortstop. There's essentially no such thing as a 42-year-old shortstop. Three, the Yankees have Mark Teixeira under contract through 2016, when Jeter will be 42. They've also got Alex Rodriguez under contract through 2017, when Jeter will be 43.
I bring up Rodriguez because he'll turn 42 in 2017. There's no such thing as a 42-year-old third baseman. If he's still good enough and healthy enough to play regularly, he'll be at first base or DH, and probably the latter.
My point is that because of the Yankees' ultra-long-term commitments to Teixeira and Rodriguez, the two positions Jeter might play in his dotage are both likely to be filled by younger (albeit old) players with more powerful bats. It's one thing to suggest that Jeter will still be good enough to play when he's 43 -- which is highly doubtful anyway -- but it's another to figure out where he would play.
With the Yankees, anyway. Jeter's halo is such that some other organization might consider giving him 500 plate appearances at that age, just for the sake of having him around. But I don't see him taking a huge pay cut, and I don't see him playing for another team.
What strikes me as infinitely more likely is that his next contract runs for four or five years, taking him perhaps through his Age 41 season. As the years pile up, he'll transition to some sort of utility role and will leave the game with a great amount of grace.
I would absolutely love to see Derek Jeter replace Pete Rose in the record books. But it says here that he'll finish his career with 3,692 hits.
(H/T: BTF's Newsstand)
- Look, no one denies Rose's talent as a ballplayer. Indeed, if I had my way I'd decouple Hall-of-Fame eligibility from eligibility to work in the game and allow Rose to get the plaque he deserves for his on-the-field accomplishments. Likewise, Mike Schmidt was Rose's teammate and friend so I don't begrudge him for making Rose's case. I'd probably do the same for my friend.
But let's be clear: it's no crime or injustice that Pete Rose is still banned from baseball. A ban he agreed to, by the way, voluntarily and with full knowledge that it was intended to be for life. A ban at which he constantly thumbed his nose while lying to both those who had his potential reinstatement in their hands and the fans who were played for idiots after Rose finally, and calculatedly, decided to come clean in 2004.
The headline to Schmidt's piece asks if 20 years is enough. My answer: no, not really.
But I think 20 years is enough, particularly if Major League Baseball's case against Pete Rose -- all of which, we still have not seen -- does not include any strong evidence that he bet against his own team. As I suppose I've written a few times already, if an NFL player (or coach, presumably) is caught betting on his team to win, he's subject to a one-year suspension; if a baseball player (or coach or manager) is caught betting on his team to win, he's suspended for infinity.
I'll grant that one year probably isn't enough ... but isn't forever maybe a bit much?
It's completely obvious why any sport must throw the book at anyone who bets against his team. That throws open the question of the integrity of the competition on the field, and no sport can survive for long if the fans don't believe that each side is trying to win.
It's not quite as obvious what's wrong with someone betting on his team ... but there is plenty wrong. A manager who's bet on his team to win today might do something that would make a loss tomorrow more likely. A manager (or player) who's bet on his team to win today might lose, and lose again tomorrow and the next day, and find himself beholden to gangsters who might then make all sorts of demands.
Pete Rose is the only major leaguer since 1920 who's been banned for betting on baseball. The policy seems to have worked pretty well. My point is that a 10-year suspension for anyone caught betting on his own team would almost certainly have worked just as well. Or even a 20-year ban. Let's change the rule just slightly -- leaving it not one iota less effective -- and apply the change retroactively. Joe Jackson's still out, but Pete Rose, after 20 years, has a chance to get in. At the very least, I'd love for him and his fans to have someone other than the commissioner to blame.
- The tip-off that Selig may now be inclined to pardon baseball's all-time hit king was Hank Aaron's seemingly impromptu interview session with a small group of reporters in the lobby of the Otesaga Hotel on Saturday. In declaring for the first time that he would want an asterisk put on the achievements of any steroid cheats elected to the Hall of Fame, Aaron brought up Rose, who, in August of 1989, was given a lifetime ban for gambling on baseball, saying: "I would like to see Pete in. He belongs there."
It is no secret that Selig considers Aaron one of his closest friends and values his opinions over perhaps all others. It was also learned by the Daily News that in a meeting of the Hall of Fame's board of directors at the Otesaga later on Saturday, two of Rose's former teammates on the board, vice chairman Joe Morgan and Frank Robinson, also expressed their hope that Selig would see fit to reinstate Rose.
Nevertheless, it is beginning to look as if Rose will at least finally get Hall of Fame consideration, at the same time the Hall of Famers are taking an even harder stance on all the steroids cheats. "Believe me," said Reggie Jackson, to a couple of writers, "that little session Hank had with you guys was anything but impromptu. He wanted to get that out there. It was time."
Henry Aaron wants Pete Rose in the Hall of Fame.
Bud Selig considers Aaron a close friend.
ergo, Bud Selig is going to remove Pete Rose from Major League Baseball's permanently ineligible list?
My personal and professional opinion is that Bud Selig has essentially finished his work, and that he's happy with it. He's got interleague play and the postseason format exactly where he wants them. He's got the All-Star Game exactly how he wants it. And he's got Pete Rose exactly where he wants him.
My personal and professional opinion is that all of these things could and should be changed, for one reason or another. But I believe we'll have to wait for the next commissioner.