Wednesday, September 2, 2015

Would it change a thing if ‘Shoeless Joe’ were reinstated to baseball?

It has been 95 years since Joe Jackson played his last ballgame for the Chicago White Sox, and 63 years since he was even alive.

Still a baseball persona non-grata
Yet some people are determined to try to reinstate the man who got bounced from baseball following the 1919 World Series – which the White Sox lost to the Cincinnati Reds and for which Jackson was one of eight ballplayers later indicted on criminal conspiracy charges claiming he took money to lose ballgames.

OF COURSE, PEOPLE argue that Jackson was acquitted of those charges by a jury in Cook County, while others will claim that jury was so biased that their verdict was arguably more ridiculous than some people believe the “not guilty” verdict was for O.J. Simpson.

The problem becomes that whatever happened with the World Series that year and whether Jackson, or any, of the ballplayers took money from gamblers to lose happened so long ago that just about anybody who knew anything is dead.

This becomes a “paper trail” investigation that already came up with a result.

Which is why it would seem baseball officials aren’t about to do anything. Giving us such non-news headlines on Tuesday as “MLB won’t reinstate Shoeless Joe Jackson.”

THE SHOELESS JOE Jackson Museum that operates out of Jackson’s one-time home in Greenville, S.C., released a letter it received from baseball Commissioner Robert Manfred saying they don’t intend to do anything to change Jackson’s status.

The White Sox' all-time duo ...
“The results of this work demonstrate to me that it is not possible now, over 95 years since those events took place,… to be certain enough of the truth to overturn Commissioner (Kennesaw M.) Landis’ determinations,” which were that Jackson knew of efforts to throw a World Series and didn’t do anything to stop it.

Some claim that Jackson took $5,000 from gambling interests, but somehow managed to play well – coming up with numbers that indicate he didn’t stink (a high batting average, and the only home run of that World Series).

While others say this proves statistics don’t tell the full story, and in fact can be deceptive.

... won't become a trio anytime soon
ADMITTEDLY, THE JACKSON Museum has an interest – they’d like it if the guy they promote were to become an official part of baseball again. Rather than someone whom baseball would prefer to forget. Just like Pete Rose – who also has a lifetime ban from baseball for gambling (and a criminal conviction with six-month prison sentence for tax evasion).

Then again, I’m sure the White Sox would also like it if they could go back to publicly acknowledging that one of the greatest ballplayers ever wore their uniform – and that he could join Luke Appling and Frank Thomas as being among the greatest White Sox ever.

But aside from their marketing efforts, would it really change much. Would Jackson gain any points to his .356 lifetime batting average (second only to Ty Cobb’s .362)?

Would the White Sox gain any more wins to their lifetime career? It’s not like we’d get to change the 1919 World Series result and claim a victory over Cincinnati?

THERE WOULDN’T BE any one less person sneering or snickering at the White Sox for being the only team caught throwing a World Series (even though there have been rumors from other World Series and ballgames in general of that era having suspicious results).

Is Jackson plight more about backing Rose?
Or anyone thinking any less of Jackson from amongst those people who want to believe that Shoeless Joe would have been in the Baseball Hall of Fame decades ago – if only he hadn’t had that World Series stain on his record.

So I’m sure some people are going to be miffed at baseball officials for not being willing to resurrect this issue all these years later.

But barring the discovery of evidence that we can’t even conceive of at this point, it may be that baseball officials have the right idea in mind to just go forward. Rehashing the past never changes anything!


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