As Barry Bonds, Mark McGwire, Roger Clemens, Sammy Sosa, Rafael Palmeiro and every other lyin’ cheat in the baseball record books seem to be moving further away from Cooperstown, Pete Rose could be moving closer.
I didn’t plan on blogging about this today. But if emails and comments are any indication, several readers seem confused, if not angered, by my positions on Rose (whom I believe should be in the Hall) and proven steroid uses (who should not be). Some think they are in conflict with each other. I don’t. So I felt the need to clear the air.
Also the New York Daily News is now reporting that commissioner Bud Selig might be softening his position on Rose and could make him Hall-eligible again. According to long-time baseball writer Bill Madden, one reason for Selig’s change in thought were comments made by our own Henry Aaron.
COOPERSTOWN — Thanks to the behind-the-scenes lobbying from some of the most influential Hall of Famers, commissioner Bud Selig is said to be seriously considering lifting Pete Rose’s lifetime suspension from baseball.
The tip-off that Selig may now be inclined to pardon baseball’s all-time hit king was Hank Aaron’s seemingly impromptu interview session with a small group of reporters in the lobby of the Otesaga Hotel on Saturday. In declaring for the first time that he would want an asterisk put on the achievements of any steroid cheats elected to the Hall of Fame, Aaron brought up Rose, who, in August of 1989, was given a lifetime ban for gambling on baseball, saying: “I would like to see Pete in. He belongs there.”
It is no secret that Selig considers Aaron one of his closest friends and values his opinions over perhaps all others.
Here’s my thought on Rose: He never cheated the game. Gambling did not enhance his ability to hit a baseball. He did not accumulate 4,256 hits because he obsessed over whether the Packers would cover.
Now, gambling on baseball is verboten for players. Rose broke that rule. So a suspension was understandable. But a “lifetime” ban from the sport and the resulting loss of eligibility for the Hall of Fame never was justified. Baseball commissioned John Dowd to look into the gambling allegations. Dowd interviewed bookies and assorted lowlifes. He determined that Rose bet on baseball, including 52 Cincinnati Reds games. However, at no point, Dowd concluded, did Rose bet against Cincinnati.
And if you really want to read the whole Dowd Report, here you go.
So what’s the argument against Rose? That he bet on his own team to win a baseball game? I’m not condoning his gambling, but come on. Baseball’s all-time hits leader is not worthy of induction because he really, really wanted his team to win even more so than usual because he bet $2,000 on the game?
I’ve got another poll to the left, and I’m casting the first vote. Rose goes in. Go ahead and weigh in.