A Rose by Any Other Name (Screed #19)

July 27, 2009…


Reportedly, there is talk of possibly lifting Pete Rose’s lifetime ban from baseball, in the near future, and allowing him to become eligible for Hall of Fame consideration. Commissioner Bud Selig has stated that Hank Aaron’s recent statement that Rose should be allowed back in is what made him give the idea serious consideration.

As we all know, Rose bet on games while manager of the Cincinnati Reds back in the late-80s. And as we also know, this is clearly against the rules of Major League Baseball, and can result in a lifetime ban from the sport, which is what happened to Rose. He then spent many years denying any wrongdoing, before finally admitting to it.

Yes, Rose has repeatedly shown himself to be an arrogant jerk, and of course, getting into the Hall of Fame is not just about how many hits you got or how many games you won for your team. It’s also about integrity and good sportsmanship, how you carry yourself on and off the field, and whether you have strived to be a good role model for younger players, as well as the youth of America. Rose did not possess most, if any, of these qualities.

Still, from what we know, Rose never cheated as a player. He always gave 150% on the field in every game, and did everything he could to win games for his teams, on his way to becoming the all-time hits leader. He is simply one of the greatest players the sport has ever known, and probably belongs in the Hall of Fame more, if stats alone are taken into consideration, than 80% of the players currently in there.

Now, keep in mind that Rose, as far as we know, never bet on baseball as a player, only as a manager – and it’s as a player that he would be going into the Hall. Also, it has never been proven that Rose ever threw a game, or bet on his team to lose. We realize that that ultimately shouldn’t matter because you simply should not be betting on baseball at all, if you are a manager, coach or player. Still, he never did anything to sabotage his team, for his own gain. For whatever that’s worth.

Over the past several years, we have seen all of the league’s best and most revered players to be either found guilty, or at least accused of, using performance-enhancing drugs. Barry Bonds, as we all know, clearly is guilty of this (whether proven or not) and has always come across as an extremely arrogant and unlikeable player and human being. He is clearly no role model. He’s just one of many that have disgraced baseball. One thing we cannot accuse Rose of, though, is using steroids and cheating. Then again, from what we have found out over the last several years, is that amphetamines were clearly used and abused for decades by hundreds of players. Anything to get a bit of an edge over other players. So, perhaps we shouldn’t be just singling out people like Bonds or Roger Clemens or Jose Canseco. Apparently, baseball was never the clean-cut All-American sport that we thought it to be. Should Bonds or Clemens be ineligible for Hall of Fame consideration because of their alleged wrongdoing? Despite everything, we would say no. They did do many great things on the field that had nothing to do with steroids. Then again, and perhaps we are splitting hairs, but is betting on baseball (and not even against your own team) worse than using performance-enhancing drugs and cheating? It’s seems like a bit of a double standard.

We think it’s ridiculous though, that many players have made the Hall of Fame who also did not set good examples on or off the field, yet Rose seems to be crucified for what he did. Ty Cobb, for example, was a known racist, beat up fans and made enemies everywhere he went. He would have been thrown off every team in baseball if he were playing today. Still, he’s one of the greatest players who ever lived. Should his bad behavior have kept him out of the Hall? Should he be thrown out now, knowing all the things that we know about him? We don’t believe so. He belongs in there, despite his sometimes despicable behavior. He simply lived in a different time, when his behavior wasn’t considered as bad as we now know it to be. And we believe Pete Rose belongs in there, as well. He probably should never be allowed to coach or manage again in the majors, and yes, letting him into the Hall means having to overlook certain things about his behavior and personality, that are clearly repulsive, but the man is simply one of the greats. We can’t take that away from him.

If he is indeed reinstated into Major League Baseball, he will, after twenty years, finally be eligible for the Hall. There is no guarantee that he will get the necessary amount of votes to make it, but we believe he deserves a chance – faults and all.


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