And thus thy fall hath left a kind of blot
To mark the full-fraught man and best endued
With some suspicion. I will weep for thee,
For this revolt of thine methinks is like
Another fall of man. — Henry V
Gone now is all semblance of the Rose of my youth. All that remains are the thorns, a winter forest of thorns rending its inhabitants and all memory to tatters, taken now to the wind.
In one breath, the act is unspeakably muted in disbelief — in the next, it wails in full horror at the indecency of it all. This was a child, after all.
Now all that’s left are the bystanders — Cincinnatians mostly — bloody on the battlefield of opinion.
There are the tribal, of course. Those who will bend their will to the Hit King, no matter the carnage. For whatever reason, they can no more cleave themselves from the past than the thirsty can refuse water. With each wanton excuse, the tongue grows heavier, more incoherent.
There’s Tom Tsuchiya, the creator of the recently unveiled statue — a bronze masterpiece — almost instantaneously transformed into tin at the hands of its living, breathing inspiration.
There is the Cincinnati Reds Baseball Club, who can still send a message to not only to their faithful female patrons, but to all thoughtful and decent customers passing through the turnstiles, a message their neighbors down the road at the local gridiron could not bring themselves to do when they made a highly questionable draft decision recently. We shall see. When Winning and Money are at the stake in big-time sports, eyes are too often averted and silence fills the void.
Most importantly, there’s the girl, now some forty plus years older, dragged back into a past she’d surely rather forget, into the ugly glare of public opinion, to be victimized one more time.
Finally, there’s the rest of us. There was always a path to forgiveness for Rose if one was so inclined to do so. If you believe gambling is a disease, if you believe Baseball instituted special rules to block his way into the Hall, or as Kostya Kennedy once wrote:
“The argument against Pete Rose being in the Hall of Fame … had devolved [emphasis added], now turning not upon his violation of a sacred baseball tenet, but rather on whether a voter liked the guy or not.”
… then there was reason enough to if not forgive — understand.
Many of us unabashedly celebrated the summer of Pete Rose. And when the fall came, we, again in Kennedy’s words felt “the depth of Rose’s limitations, how ill-equipped he is to answer the demands for humility, contrition and self-awareness that society asks of him. It is indeed enough to make you feel, if not empathy, sympathy after all.” Now, the hard winter of Pete Rose has blasted us headfirst and the foul weather that accompanies it is unavoidable.
All that remains now is bloody judgment. And epitaphs.