Cards On The Table: Wheeze Kids Edition; Pete Rose

February 4, 2012; Las Vegas, NV, USA; Retired baseball player Pete Rose sits in attendance during UFC 143 at the Mandalay Bay Events Center. Mandatory Credit: Kelvin Kuo-USA TODAY Sports

Earlier this week, I saw Pete Rose on NBC’s “Today Show.” Pete was on there to promote a new reality show on TLC featuring him and his wife, Kiana Kim, a former Playboy model.

You know, TLC stands for The Learning Channel. I wonder what we’re going to learn by watching?

Folks, I’m not going to lie to you. It was sad. Pete Rose makes me sad, and this is going to be an awful TV show. It’s going to make you sad for Pete Rose, sad for who he is, and sad for the life he leads.

Rose has also been in the news this week because of the fall of Lance Armstrong. Rose is specifically qualified to speak on Armstrong’s fall from grace, as he too experienced what happens when you cheat in your sport, lie about it for years, and then finally relent and tell everyone the obvious truth that they already know.

So many negative Pete Rose stories, so little time.

But with 2013 marking the 30th anniversary of the least-talked about NL pennant winners in MLB history, the 1983 Phillies Wheeze-Kids, this weekly feature will occasionally feature someone from the hallowed squad that got absolutely squashed by the Baltimore Orioles in one of the least memorable World Series ever played.

In fact, I’m still not sure it actually happened.

And what better way to kick things off than with Peter Edward Rose, Sr., a.k.a. Charlie Hustle?

It was Pete’s 21st year in the Majors, and by this time, his game was fleeing from him like Syrian rebels from a government gunship. It was the first time in 10 years he did not make an All-Star team, playing in 151 games and posting a line of .245/.316/.286 with a bWAR of -2.3.

Simply put, Pete was wasting space.

In fact, Rose was not a very good player for three of the five years in which he played for the Phillies. The only two years in which he had a bWAR above zero was in 1979 (2.9) and 1981 (1.6). However, Pete’s contributions to two NL pennant-winners cannot be disputed.

His clubhouse leadership helped Mike Schmidt realize his full potential, and his aggressive baserunning and hustle were both integral in the ’80 NLCS and World Series. The Phils likely would not have won their first title without him.

In 1983, Rose was part of a much older Big Red Machine that featured him, Joe Morgan and Tony Perez on the Phils’ aging roster, a roster in which the average age of the starting nine was, oh, I’d say about 63 years old.

That’s just rough math, guys.

I mean, people talk about the 2013 Phillies being old, but check out this roster:

C – Bo Diaz (30 years old), 1B – Rose (42), 2B – Joe Morgan (39), SS – Ivan DeJesus (30), 3B – Mike Schmidt (33), LF – Gary Matthews (32), CF – Gary Maddox (33), RF – Von Hayes (24).

It’s amazing they were allowed to play without Life Alert Bracelets.

*Editors note: Life Alert Bracelets had not been invented yet*

And while Pete did go 5-16 for a .313 batting average in the ’83 World Series against Baltimore, it was not enough for the Phils’ to re-sign him. After the ’83 season, Pete would sign with the Montreal Expos, for whom he would play 95 games before being traded back to Cincinnati, where he would finish out his career as the Major’s all-time hit king.

Of course, he had to be hired as manager of the team so that he could play himself in order to be assured of enough starts to break the record, but we’re quibbling over fine points here.

What Phils fans will remember are his heroics from the 1980 season, and really not much else, especially the ’83 season that, like I said, no one is really sure ever took place.

So you all can go ahead and celebrate the 20th anniversary of those long-haired, dirty, disgusting creatures from the 1993 season if you like.

I’m going to go ahead and remember the least remembered pennant winners in Major League history.

Mainly because the baseball cards are better.

Topics: Philadelphia Phillies

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