Pete Rose: An American Dilemma (Unabridged)
by Kostya Kennedy
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Pete Rose played baseball with a singular and headfirst abandon that endeared him to fans and peers, even as it riled others--a figure at once magnetic, beloved and polarizing. Rose has more base hits than anyone in history, yet he is not in the Hall of Fame. Twenty-five years ago he was banished from baseball for gambling, then ruled ineligible for Cooperstown; today, the question "Does Pete Rose belong in the Hall of Fame?" has evolved into perhaps the most provocative in sports, a layered, slippery and ever-relevant moral conundrum. How do we evaluate the Hit King now, at a time when steroid cheats appear on the Hall of Fame ballot even as Rose is denied? What do we make of this happily unrepentant gambler, this shameless but beguiling showman whose post-baseball journey has led him to a curious reality show and to the streets of Cooperstown to hawk his signature, his story, himself? Best-selling author Kostya Kennedy delivers an evocative answer in his fascinating re-examination of Pete Rose's life; from his cocky and charismatic early years through his storied playing career to his bitter war against baseball's hierarchy to the man we find today--still incorrigible, still adored by many. Where has his improbable saga landed him in the redefined, post-steroid world? Do we feel any differently about Pete Rose today? Should we?
Great book but read poorly
Pete Rose has been such a polarizing figure that I was not sure how Kennedy was going to tackle this story without revealing a strong bias either for or against the man. He has, however, done an excellent job at giving us as even-handed look of the Hit King. Most of Rose's notoriety over the last quarter century has been due to his banishment from the game of baseball, and Kennedy's book handles this quite well. That was no surprise to me. What did surprise me, though, was the masterful job he did in reminding us just how great a player Rose was, how passionately and how hard he played the game. No one out-hustled or outworked the man, and no one immersed himself in the game or loved it as much as Pete. His contagious enthusiasm made everyone around him better. How could his teammates not work their butts off knowing Pete was doing exactly that? It is in the context of this greatness that makes Rose's fall so fascinating and sad, and Kennedy is at his best when bringing this contrast to our attention.
My issue, however, is how this book was read and is the reason I did not rate it higher. I was thoroughly unimpressed. I do not know if Bartolone is a baseball fan or not; if he isn't, he seems to have done enough of his homework to be knowledgeable in the game. Still, his consistent mispronunciation of Stan Musial's last name - he calls him "Mucil" - was annoying.
That, however, is a trifling complaint compared to the butchering of the lines of quoted dialogue, of which there were a lot. Mr Bartolone is apparently an accomplished actor with a few audiobook credits under his belt as well. As such, I find it inexplicable that he was completely unable to read quoted dialogue properly. Quotes are intended to be separated from their identifying text by a distinct change in verbal inflection, such as a change in volume or tone. But Bartolone consistently read quoted dialogue without any changes in inflection whatsoever, as if the identifying text were part of the quote itself. In pretty much every other audiobook , this change in inflection is done so seamlessly that the listener doesn't even notice it is happening, and it makes his inability to do this basic reading task that much more glaring. It was the audiobook equivalent of fingernails on a chalkboard, and it detracted significantly from my enjoyment of the book. It was cringe-worthy, and how the producers of this audiobook did not see it as a problem is beyond me.
Overall, if you are a fan of the Reds and Pete Rose in specifically, or baseball in general, and if you can get past the grating manner in which this audiobook is misread, it is an informative and compelling read. I'll re-read it for sure, although next time I'm happily going to spend the extra money, buy the iBook version, and read it quietly to myself.