Wednesday, April 22, 2015

For Pete’s sake: Put Rose in the Hall of Fame

PeteRose-JSA-sBaseball_01Like it or not, Pete Rose was one of the best players to ever play the game. Rose never claimed to be an angel, just a ballplayer, no different from most other professional athletes–he just got caught.

And for all of you holier than though finger pointers, how would your life grade out if exposed to the same microscopic scrutiny? Don’t let Rose back to actively participate in baseball if you must, but keeping him out of the Hall Of Fame is a travesty.

Except for Ty Cobb and Honus Wagner no other player ever had such an impact without being a big home run threat.

Baseball is so full of hypocrisy! For more than a decade it looked the other way while guys juiced their stats with steroids and denied it the whole time. Charlie Hustle comes clean on something that never affected the outcome of a game and he’s still getting the shaft.

None of his gambling issues diminished his on field performance, the way steroids and other performance enhancing substances does for today’s players. Baseball is sticking its head in the sand to not acknowledge him as the Hit King in Cooperstown. He holds a record that will probably never be broken.

Rose broke the cardinal rule and bet on baseball. For that, it was correct to throw him out of the game.

But the HOF is another matter. It is a place to honor the greatest players and their accomplishments. Rose was clearly one of the game’s greatest players. There should be a statue of him in Cooperstown, listing all his incredible accomplishments as a player. If it also says he got thrown out of baseball for betting while a manager, that would be fine too.

The HOF is a place to take children to teach them the history of baseball. How can you do that without mentioning Pete Rose?

Rose has served decades in “prison” — barred from having any involvement in the sport he clearly loved. Of his own making, yes, but America has long championed the notion that we pay for our misdeeds and then moved on.

It took Pete years to come clean, but he did, and he’s served many more years afterwards in exile. He was banned from ever playing, managing, owning, or any other facet of involvement in baseball.

The HOF is supposed to recognize a passion and level of achievement that few others have ever come close to matching. You want to put an asterisk by Rose’s name — or even include both the good and bad of his career on his display? Good. Hey, that may be a great lesson for future generations to learn from.

Rose belongs in the HOF — period. If we allow multiple drunks, druggies and others we wouldn’t want living in our neighborhoods to be inducted into the HOF, they should make (lots of) room for Pete.

Character and morality have never been applied as criteria for admission into the HOF — except for Pete Rose. It’s time to change that.

I had the privilege of watching Rose play for most of his career. As he approached the hit record, baseball fans everywhere were captivated with watching his progress.

Rose is the all-time hits leader (4,200+) and played like a wild man for 20 years on two different championship teams, of which he was the leader on both teams. He tied the all-time NL hit streak at 44 games and "Charlie Hustle" drove opposing pitchers nuts and kept his own teams focused by his mere presence.

If Rose had bet against his own team, that would have been too much. But there's no evidence of it and we all know Rose would sever an appendage before throwing a game.

Rose didn't undermine the base-level credibility of the game by taking PEDs (taxes and gambling issues are forgivable, 'roids that help muddy 100 years of baseball history?  Not forgivable).  He was pure hustle, competitiveness and grit.

Unlike some MLB players who hold records and positions of stature, Rose's accomplishments were real and enduring. Did he make mistakes after his playing career ended? Yes. Does that negate the accomplishments he had during his career? I'm far more offended seeing Barry Bonds' "record" holding home run ball (with the asterisk) than I would be seeing any of Pete Rose's accomplishments.

While banning him from the Hall of Fame might, paradoxically, bring him more fame, he belongs in it. Great strengths are great weaknesses. Humans have failings. Vote him in.


1 comment:

  1. I agree the Pete Rose deserves to be in the Hall of Fame. However, he broke the rules and is not the first player to receive a lifetime ban for doing so. Like anyone else that receives a life sentence (except for Shoeless Joe Jackson) his ban should end the moment his life ends. That is when he should be placed on the ballot, not before.