Pete Rose (aka Charlie Hustle)
So once again Cooperstown, New York played host to thousands of baseball fans that flooded into the small rural town in upstate NY. On Sunday, June the 26th, two more legends of the game took their spots among their peers.
Jim Rice finally received what many of his team mates and fellow hall of famers believed was a hard earned and well deserved call to the Hall after 15 years on the ballot.
Standing with Jim was first ballot entrant Rickey Henderson. Even the bombastic Henderson, known for his third person speak and thinking only of Rickey, was humbled by the experience of being elected to the Hall of Fame.
Every year we stream down to Cooperstown and see one or two extremely deserving individuals admitted into the hallowed halls of baseball’s immortals.
Once again, 20 years after the commissioner’s office handed down a lifetime ban on Pete Rose, he was by-passed for election to the hall. “Of course he was,” you’re saying, “he’s not even eligible.”
Touché. The all-time hit king is not on the ballot and not allowed to be selected to sit among the greatest players in history with a plaque in the hall.
For some, if not most of you, this is a black and white dead issue. Pete Edward Rose bet on baseball, he broke a rule of the game and therefore is never allowed to participate in Major League Baseball again, and that includes the hall.
Some people at the Bleacher Report are like Burton DeWitt and think this is an open and shut case of not now, not ever for Rose. Of course this has become an issue because Allan “Bud” Selig has said that he will review Rose’s case for reinstatement.
I, on the other hand, think that the hypocrisy of fans has to stop.
That’s right, I said it. Fans have done it again. They are hypocrites and should be called out for it.
Here we sit in the midst of a steroid epidemic that has gripped the game for 20 years, and they are willing to allow the Baseball Writers of America to cast votes on known steroid users. To me, this isn’t about whether Mark McGwire, Manny Ramirez, Barry Bonds or Rafael Palmerio get into the Hall of Fame, it is that they have the opportunity to, but the all-time hit king does not.
I can hear it now: Betting on baseball is forbidden, whereas steroids in baseball weren’t until testing began in 2003.
The federal government made PEDs (aka steroids) illegal in 1990 through the Anabolic Steroids Control Act of 1990. Then, in 1991, the commissioner Fay Vincent released a memo that clarified that, “the possession, sale or use of any illegal drug or controlled substance by Major League players or personnel is strictly prohibited…This prohibition applies to all illegal drugs…including steroids.”
So we can get Bonds, McGwire, Palmerio, Sosa, Rodriguez, Manny, and others on the ballot, but why does Charlie Hustle have to suffer? Is it because he has a lifetime ban?
Pete Rose signed off on a ban that said that his suspension could be re-visited once a year, at which point the commissioner could re-instate Rose at any time.
There are guys that will tell you it’s about the integrity of the game, but isn’t that exactly what the steroid users attacked when they smashed through Henry Aaron’s 755? Or Roger’s mythical 61?
Doesn’t the demolition and cheapening of some of the most hallowed records in sports diminish the integrity of the game?
If that’s the case, I can’t understand how Rose and his 17 all-star appearances, NL Rookie of the Year, three world series, 2,165 runs scored (most by a switch hitter), 746 doubles (most by a switch hitter), 44 game hit streak (NL Record), 7 hit streaks of 20 games or more, 1973 NL MVP, and 4,256 hits (most all-time) have yet to appear on the ballot for the National Baseball Hall of Fame.
Should we let steroid users in? Well, that’s up to the Baseball Writers Association of America to decide. Why is it we struggle to allow them to decide Charlie Hustle’s fate as well?
Some highly respected sports writers like Jeff Blair from the Globe and Mail in Toronto think this is black and white, but I can’t help think it’s gray.
I can’t believe people are trying to rationalize which of these guys are bad. Baseball fans need to realize that they are all bad guys. So was Ty Cobb, so was Gaylord Perry.
I could even argue that George Brett cheated when it was determined that the pine tar on his bat was too high.
The hall of fame is full of spit-ballers, ball-scuffers, and bat-corkers.
I guess I don’t feel self-righteous enough to be the moral authority that determines whose offense is worse. These are all people that knowingly broke the rules of the game and stabbed holes in its integrity.
I wish I had the ability to stand behind the hypocrisy that is the BBWAA, but I’d rather have Hank Aaron in my corner saying, “He deserves to be there, his record speaks for itself.”