The Pete Rose story has died down by now, and I’m grateful for that. Life has moved on, as I knew it would, and it’s strange to think that it’s not even been a week since the story first appeared anywhere. Our culture and the 24-hour news cycle it has created–or that we have all been thrust into–is on full display with this story.
One story I have to tell about the whole affair unfolded last Saturday. Some baseball card collectors were especially unhappy with me that the story was ever written in the first place. Whether they hated me or not I can’t say, but it was clear they hated the negative publicity this story had created. There were accusations that I was trying to get fame and notoriety (I was not), and that I left out important exculpatory evidence for why Pete Rose’s name was not mentioned on this year’s Topps baseball cards. So I decided to engage these people on Saturday, since I had some downtime while at an ice skating competition.
Later on that evening, I went to see Romeo and Juliet onstage, and one of my favorite lines from the play occurs in Act I, scene 1, in the aftermath of the initial street brawl in Verona. Romeo, coming upon the scene of the fighting after it has finished, states that “Here’s much to do with hate, but more to do with love.” And I feel like, in some way, that summarizes my Twitter exchange with the angry card collectors.
As I say, I’m willing to leave open the question of whether any personal hatred was shown to me. But I’m quite clear that the result of the piece I wrote was hatred of what the story revealed. Card collecting is a serious thing for some people, and anything that puts the primary card producer in a negative light won’t be greeted favorably by them. The old idea that the enemy of my friend must also be my enemy seems to apply here.
But I’m not anybody’s enemy. I don’t have any ill-will towards Topps, either now or when I wrote the piece. As someone said to me, Topps and baseball cards have brought too much joy to too many people over too many decades to be thought of in a bad light. I love baseball, in large part, because I was able to buy these things and have them at a time in my life where I didn’t own very much else. That counts for something, all by itself.
What I love, secondary only to the love I have for my family, is the game of baseball. And that’s where Romeo’s “more to do with love” part enters into this for me. Is it silly to cling to a love of this game, when it has done so much to alienate fans like me? Mega-million dollar player salaries, labor unrest, restrictive licensing deals, and a perpetual pattern of squeezing fans for more and more money all seem to make baseball less and less appealing than it once was. But the game also has a poetry that football and basketball and soccer and hockey and golf and on and on could never match. I write about it all the time on this blog. I’d sooner gouge my eyes out than give up on baseball, and if that’s not love, please tell me what is.
I seem to have come to a truce with the card collectors, at least in the sense that accusations aren’t being hurled my way on Twitter anymore. And I appreciate this very much. A large part of Twitter, as I see it, is the ability to say something to the world, with the expectation that at least some people will read it. And when that something is about a topic you care deeply about, it’s far better to let those things out than to keep them bottled up inside.
One of the card collectors told me that “baseball card collectors are a passionate bunch.” I appreciate his comment, as it reminds me of the tagline for this blog, which states that “the world needs all the passion it can get.” I write this blog to show the world what I’m passionate about, and baseball is clearly one of those things.
The card collectors who took me to task on Twitter have their passions, too, and while they may not overlap with mine exactly, they’re no less valid than my passions or anyone else’s. I thank them for their passion, and their willingness to share it with me. It wasn’t necessarily fun to mix it up with them online, but I’m glad to have engaged with them, and I’m also happy that Shakespeare provided me with a line to put this into some perspective.