Monday, March 18, 2013

Monday Morning Stories With Mookie - Episode 60

Since its March and a lot of people have Spring Break, all of the Monday Morning Stories With Mookie in March will be about activities that happened in my favorite Spring Break location:  LAS VEGAS!!

The Time Mookie And Rick Saw Pete Rose and Ken Stabler

During a break in the gambling and drinking on a particular Vegas trip, "Rick"(*) and I decided to head to The Forum Shops at Caesar's Palace and see if we couldn't pick up some nice things for the family back home. While walking past a section of stores, we noticed a sports memorabilia shop across the mall that had a huge banner out front.  Once we got closer and could read it, it said something to the fact of "Pete Rose and Ken Stabler Here TODAY!!"

NO KIDDING?  Charlie Hustle and The Snake???

To refresh your memory or in case you don't know who they are:
Pete Rose (a.k.a "Charlie Hustle") is the disgraced former-major league baseball player who currently holds several MLB records, notably the most career hits (4,256), and was an All-Star 18 times who played at 5 different positions.  While Pete Rose is arguably one of the best to ever play the game, he is also one of the most despised.  Why?  Well, other than admitting he frequently gambled on baseball games he played in or managed, he also has a track record of being an immense dick both on and off the field.  The gambling offense earned him a lifetime ban from anything relating to major league baseball, and is forever banned from the Baseball Hall of Fame in Cooperstown.  Naturally this made him even more of an asshole, and he now spends his time signing autographs for money.  Classy.

Ken Stabler (a.k.a. "The Snake") is a former NFL quarterback who largely played for the Oakland Raiders during the 1970's.  He led the Raiders to a Super Bowl XI victory, and led the league in TD passes for a number of years.  He has also been recognized as one of the top ten players not in the Football Hall of Fame.  Like Pete Rose, stories about Stabler's antics off the field sometimes over-shadowed his prowess on the field.  I've read that he was meticulous when it came to three things, studying his playbook, chasing the ladies, and hitting booze.  The guy was no Charlie Sheen by any means, but I would guess this behavior contributed to his three failed marriages.  I would also bet his Super Bowl parties are Off. The. Hook.

Rick and I immediately remembered a particular book Rick used to have when he was younger, and wished we had it here for Pete to autograph.  The book was written by Pete Rose, and it explained  "how" to play baseball the "Pete Rose way."  The book obviously included the general rules of baseball, but Pete went the extra mile and provided some official tried-and-true "Charlie Hustle" playing tips and techniques.  Please keep in mind, the target audience of this book was probably a garden-variety ten-year-old.

The book took a left-turn of sorts when Rose addressed a hitting "technique" in particular that he referred to as "The Bastard Play."  It basically entailed faking a bunt at the pitcher, and then at the last minute openly swinging at the ball. The result (according to Rose) was the pitcher scrambling forward to field the bunt, only to be left looking stupid as the ball was smacked to the outfield.  The pitcher would then reportedly turn towards Rose and call him "a bastard" as he ran to first base.  I had never heard this phrase before, and to this day have never seen it anywhere else.  We of course thought it was HILARIOUS that this "play" was in a kids book, but then again...we are talking about Pete Rose here. I'm surprised there wasn't bookmaking tips and advice on betting against spread.

Sadly, Rick accidentally left the book in the car of one of our baseball coaches after a road-trip game, and he never got it back.  To add further insult to injury, this coach ended up cutting us from the team shortly thereafter (because we weren't that good).  Talk about a "bastard play" right?

But I digress.

Pete "I'll sign anything for $50" Rose.
So we wandered over closer to the shop, and sure enough there is Pete Rose and Ken Stabler waiting to sign autographs in exchange for cash.  They were positioned in the vestibule of shop, sitting on folding chairs behind a long folding table.  The table had a tablecloth/skirt thing around it - apparently to make it appear "classy."  Pete's "appearance rider" probably demands this sort of shit, because when you think of class, you think of Pete f'n Rose. There were also large banners of Pete behind him that displayed him in a few of his historic poses. It made me want to get banners with pictures of myself on them to put in my cube at work.

The velvet rope partitions that were intended to direct rabid fans into an orderly line were unsurprisingly empty.  I attempted to walk closer and at try to at least take a picture of big Pete, but once I broke out my cell phone to take a picture I was quickly shut down. There was some guy "moderating" the store entry, and he gave off a vibe that said he was in-no-way going to let me get picture of Charlie Hustle for FREE.  No. Way.  (So I have to admit the above picture is not mine and I found it on the internet, but this is almost exactly what it looked looked like.)

I then noticed that Ken Stabler's section of the table was definitely less-asshole-ish than Rose's.  All he had was a simple sign in front of him that said his name, and I think there were a few Oakland Raiders collectibles sitting there - but that was it though.  I didn't know if Ken was simply a humble guy or if Pete had pawned all of Ken's memorabilia to lay a bet on the ponies that morning.

From what we could see, it cost at least $50 just for an autograph.  Who knows what the "arm around the waist" buddy shot cost.  I wouldn't have surprised if people had to sign something that said they wouldn't touch or make direct eye contact with Pete too.

People who charge for autographs should burn in hell.

It was then that we decided to seek our entertainment elsewhere, and headed out into the night.
So even though we only spent about 30 seconds watching Pete Rose sit at a folding table in a mall, I do have to admit it was kind of cool. It's not everyday you get to see a celebrity like that in person - especially when its the celebrity that introduced you to "The Bastard Play." Just for that play alone Pete should get some Cooperstown love and recognition.

Good times.


Easily the best autograph ever.

In case you are wondering where I stand, I do think Rose deserves to be in The Hall of Fame.  He is easily one of the best to play the game, and his lifetime stats reflect this.

While Rose definitely violated the rule that states a person cannot bet on games in which they personally can affect the outcome, I don't know that it is worthy of a lifetime ban.

Yes he bet on baseball and that is a "no-no" in the rule books.  It doesn't help his cause that he bet on games where he could definitely affect the outcome.

HOWEVER:

  • They never proved he did anything to negatively affect any game he was involved in.
  • They never proved that he bet against the Reds (his team) at any time while playing or coaching.
  • They also found that when Pete bet on a game the Reds were playing, he bet ON his team every time.

I think this should be taken into consideration.

Everyone knows Pete played to win.  That's just what he did. The fact he is a tremendous bastard is beside the point and that shouldn't matter.  Case in point:  Ty Cobb is in the Hall of Fame and he reportedly is the hugest bastard to ever play baseball. That's what I think anyway.

I must also add real quick that I did a quick Google search on "The Bastard Play" in preparation of this story.  I only found ONE mention of it, and it was buried in the comments section of some old baseball fan site. However, the comment not only described "The Bastard Play," but it attributed it to Pete Rose as well.  That made me laugh.


(*) - Names changed to protect the guilty/innocent.

Miss a previous episode?  Click HERE!


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