"Shoeless" Joe Jackson was a God in baseball cleats but he’s banned from MLB and its Hall of Fame for life because it’s believed he took money and helped throw the 1919 World Series. He’s the most well-known and revered conspirator in a game-fixing scheme known as the "Black Sox Scandal" that compromised MLB's integrity and shook it to its core.
In 1921, a Chicago jury acquitted Jackson of aiding to fix the 1919 World Series. But Judge Kenesaw Mountain Landis, first commissioner of baseball, went against the courts' decision and banned Jackson and seven other Chicago players from baseball for life.
Pete Rose is baseball’s all-time hits leader, but he’s also banned for life from a sport that he helped popularize because he broke baseball’s supreme law and bet on games while managing (and some believe as a player too).
There’s no proof that he bet against his team, but you don’t have to be a rocket scientist to know that if a manager or player has money on the game the integrity of his decisions become mush.
Ray Rice isn’t a baseball player, but he is a poster child for a specific offense. An offense so egregious and indefensible in the eyes of the millions of people who have now seen him slug his then-fiancé Janay-Palmer-Rice in the face in an elevator -- and the NFL -- that the league has decided to “unofficially” ban Rice for life.
It hasn’t been announced that Rice will never be allowed to play in the NFL again, but it’s quite obvious owners have and will continue to collude against his re-entry. He's facing a 4th-and-29 for real.
Not even Tony Dungy can politik' Ray out of this one. He's too busy laying low from his Michael Sam comments back in 2014.
Three The Hard Way
Therefore, these three players are jilted and disgraced kindred spirits to a large degree and it will be a cold day in Hades before any of these guys get acknowledged by the professional league that gave them life and then turned its backs on them once they were discovered to have unforgivable moral fragilities.
Society and history work together hand–in-hand to revise and re-purify and decorate the face of the dirty world of pro sports by creating images and pushing strong marketing campaigns behind those chosen players that they feel can become heroes with an impact that transcends sports. It’s very hard to do that with athletes, especially these days when their individual flaws are out in the open for all to judge.
True character flaws destroy the façade. Very few are thorough and disciplined and devious enough to maintain that pristine image. That’s what Pats QB Tom Brady is fighting for. His image as a perfect person and player with the perfect wife and the perfect life. America still needs those. Certain types of character flaws destroy the façade and limit inspiration.
He doesn’t want to go down as the great player who cheated to win. There are too many of those turkeys these days and it is destroying sports as we know it.
Infamously Impacting The Game
Pro Sports needs martyrs as well as heroes. There are lessons to be learned in the careers of both. Yes, these guys are martyrs to a certain extent. Since Pete Rose’s ban by deceased and respected MLB Commissioner Bart Giamatti in 1989, no player or coach has dared to bet on baseball. By banishing Rose for life and sticking to it, MLB has totally deaded any potential gambling problem within the game.
There was a lot of hype before the 2015 MLB All-Star game in Cincinnati about Rose’s return and new MLB Commissioner Rob Manfred agreeing to sit down and talk with Pete, but when the balloons popped, the confetti dropped and the festivities were over, Rose was still on the outside looking in and there’s no indication that MLB will relent on its firm stance towards Charlie Hustle’s gambling offenses.
He will however be that sympathetic figure and a sad example of a guy who gave 100 percent effort to the game but was living a double life and taking just as much from its soul and moral fiber.
People say time heals all wounds. Just not in the case of these three guys whose names will forever be written with the mark of a Scarlet Letter defining their legacies. Their statistical genius will fall a distance second to the fact that their magnificent athletic journey ended in the graveyards of superstar athletes who thought they were bigger than the game itself and paid the ultimate price.
Seeing your life’s work dissipate in the blink of an eye and going to sleep a hero and waking up a detested villain and then dying as one, is a torturous experience, maybe worse than death itself.
It’s been nearly a century since The Black Sox scandal and Major League Baseball still won't reinstate "Shoeless" Joe Jackson despite an appeal from the former outfielder's museum. Manfred stated there isn't enough evidence to overturn the previous decisions.
The Black Sox scandal was orchestrated by powerful but seedy mob-types and entangled eight money-thirsty players, including Jackson in a web of game manipulation that is unprecedented and unrivalved in MLB history.
The ballers were accused of throwing games against the Cincinnati Reds. The players were later found not guilty of conspiracy but were still banned from baseball.
Jackson was either an innocent victim of guilt by association or a genius at the hustle of point shaving and game-tanking because he still hit .375 in the series, but allegedly he took $5,000 to throw games.
The movie Eight Men Out which masterfully chronicled the scandal shows Jackson as a conflicted figure and far from the ringleader, but his stature as a player and the egregious magnitude of his baseball sins (purposely and directly messing with the outcome, legitimacy and integrity of the game) has infamously immortalized “Shoeless” Joe as the face of fraudulence in the game.
His ban, which remains 64 years after his death in 1951, has now become part of baseball lore. To reinstate him is to lessen the impact of the ban (myth or not) and open the door for another incident where players are throwing games. There’s too much money at stake and fans believe too deeply in the “fairness” of pro sports for the thought of the possibility of a player throwing games to ever enter a person’s rational mind.
As you can see, there hasn’t been one publicly-divulged incident of game-fixing in MLB since the Black Sox scandal thanks to the career of Shoeless “Joe” Jackson, who batted .356 over 13 seasons, which ranks him third all-time behind Ty Cobb (another awesome humanitarian) and Rogers Hornsby. Jackson also won a World Series with the Chicago White Sox in 1917.
ESPN.com reported on Tuesday that the operators of the South Carolina-based museum sent two letters to the league's new chief executive earlier in the year. Manfred sent a response dated July 20 and decided it "would not be appropriate for me to reopen this matter."
The new Commish is open to talk, but he’s not reversing the legacy-defining decrees and final wishes of his distinguished predecessors. It’s Rose’s bad luck and destiny I suppose, that just eight days after being banished and 154 days into Giamatti’s tenure as commissioner, the guy has a heart attack at age 51.
Manfred’s not touching any of that.
Ray Rice thought he smelled victory when he scored remorse points off his interview with ESPN’s Jemele “Juice Hill” a staunch proponent for the elimination of domestic violence in our country and then the Philly Eagles came up short at running back, but he learned quickly that contrary to popular belief, society does value black women over pit bulls.
While Mike Vick’s dog fighting nightmare has subsided to the point that he is now considered a locker room asset as a diminished backup QB, Rice will forever be the face and his video; the rallying cry for the NFL to focus a large portion of its social agenda on stopping domestic violence within the game and beyond.
The Ray Rice video has legendary, historical and impactful viral standing and automatically propelled him to an unforgettable and dark but permanent place in the annals of NFL players and their proclivity for violence.
His incident turned the eyes of a nation to NFL culture and the way the league was handling issues concerning women and families in particular.
Commissioner Roger Goodell was forced to institute new programs, punishments and promote more diversity in opinions concerning the handling of such crimes.
Rice’s intolerance for self-restraint came on the heels of Rich Incognito’s psychological assault on teammate Jonathan Martin in 2013. His elevator tango was the last straw for a league that was suffering from a string of player arrests and PR disasters.
It’s becoming quite clear that Rice will have to find another hustle soon. He’s the perfect living example of how intolerant (wink…wink) the “new” NFL is to domestic violence. And as long as he’s off the field, no one has to deal with reliving that nightmare over and over again.
Rose, Jackson and Rice. Maybe they can start a law firm. As far as being embraced and honored by the sport that made them superstars, 100 million man marches won’t help their cause because their usefulness to sports history is in their failures, not their redemption.