In the rather ritzy clubhouse of Calder Race Course sat Charlie Hustle (a.k.a. Pete Rose) on a recent Friday, doing what he's now most famous for: gambling. Rose was calmly watching the ponies run on the dirt below, a stack of cash sitting in front of him on his table.
Across the room sat the Golden Boy. Packers great Paul Hornung was sitting with friends, wearing an official NFL shirt draped over his burgeoning post-football belly. Hornung was warmly calling the Calder waiter "Coach," the name he used to call Vince Lombardi.
Despite their proximity in the clubhouse, Rose, with his working-class crew cut, and Hornung, whose famous locks of hair are no longer golden, couldn't seem, in one aspect, further apart. The nicknames say it all: Rose made up for his lack of natural ability by toiling at the game, while Hornung with his physical abilities seemed preordained for athletic greatness by the gods of sport.
But the two former stars do share more in common than being sports icons, enjoying the track, and owning homes in Boca. Both men also have the distinction of disgracing their professions.
Hornung was suspended from football in 1963 for betting on the Packers. It was said to have broken Lombardi's heart. Rose, of course, has been banned from baseball for life, and so from the Hall of Fame, for betting on baseball. Both are still track and casino junkies, but that's where the similarities end.
Hornung shook off his scandal and now owns a spot in Canton while enjoying hero status everywhere he goes. Though Rose enjoys a definite populist appeal, he's still stuck in a state of disgrace.
Why such a contrast in fates? It could be the difference between grace and grit. Hornung showed contrition before his disappointed fans, asking for forgiveness and freely confessing his sins. Rose gave nothing but prickly denials.
You may have noticed that we're a bit critical of politicians around here. But after completion of a 12-step program for extreme crankiness, we've decided to try commending a politician.
For those of you still reading, we hear that Fort Lauderdale City Commissioner Tim Smith has taken the money from where his mouth is. This is a politician who talked about campaign finance reform, and now is actually doing something about it by limiting contributions to a paltry $25. Under state law he would be able to accept up to $500 per contribution, and we're sure there's a number of lobbyists and developers who would've considered throwing that amount his way.
Incumbents skew the political system by attracting bigger campaign donations from lawyers and politicos with whom they've worked over the years, and that makes it tougher on first-time citizen-candidates to raise an equal amount of money.
Pretty gutsy move by Smith to turn down the larger contributions. (Actually, it's a violation of the Broward Politician's Handbook. Oops, that's a bit cranky.) Smith now has good name recognition and so can do without extensive advertising, but this move could help an unknown opponent get a leg up in the race.
Yeah, but Smith has also talked about term limits, and what's he doing about that?
Gosh. There we go getting testy again. It may be best to talk about this in group.