Several weeks ago, I got into a good-natured Twitter conversation (if those exist) with one of my followers about Pete Rose‘s possible reinstatement into Major League Baseball. That fan pointed out to me what he felt were serious flaws in my opinions on old Charlie Hustle – specifically, his perception that I am okay with steroid users going in the Hall of Fame but not Pete Rose.
The space limitations of Twitter are not conducive to an in-depth discussion, so I’m going lay my feelings out here and let you, the readers, destroy me for them…
First things first, I want to make this abundantly clear: I detest cheaters! I have made that opinion very public in the past and it has bitten me in the behind. So as you read this, please don’t be mistaken how I feel about their decisions and how they have impacted the game I play and love.
I don’t care if you have been accused. I don’t care if your head is the size of a watermelon. I don’t care if some trainer has your bloody syringe in a can — if you never tested positive once MLB officially banned performance-enhancing drugs in 2004, then I don’t care and you should be eligible for the Hall of Fame!
We are acting like time cops, laying penalties on people for crimes that weren’t crimes yet. MLB and their fans wanted bigger and better ball players, and guys like Mark McGwire and Sammy Sosa delivered it. None of if was illegal in the eyes of baseball.
The voters who are now denying these players the right to go into the Hall, were the same ones voting for them for Most Valuable Player and Cy Young Awards. We all had an idea that something wasn’t right, but no one cared because we loved it and it brought baseball back.
The Hall of Fame voting process has become a witch hunt, with the players we think did PEDs on one side, and the players we think were clean on the other. Lets face reality: there are users in the Hall of Fame, and there are non-users being unfairly held out.
The Hall of Fame voters are basing their votes on whether they think a guy used or not. Some of the most popular guys in baseball have used, and you can’t tell just by looking at a guy’s physique or his numbers whether he was a user. Case in point: Andy Pettitte. If his trainer hadn’t come forward, no one would have ever accused him. And players like Mike Piazza and Jeff Bagwell have accusations holding them back without any proof of them ever using. Lets stop using “accusations” as our basis for getting the Hall.
Lets be honest: we all have a pretty good idea that players like Barry Bonds and Roger Clemens took PEDs. But they have never been found guilty. MLB has never suspended them, and they never tested positive. Do you know why? Because it wasn’t illegal to use until 2004!
The Hall and the Museum are two distinctly different places for me. Honor the greatest players in the Hall, and let the Museum tell the story of the era. The Hall is for the best of the best, while the Museum is there to inform people of the history of the game.
That all changes once you get caught. If a player has been caught once testing started, then I’m sorry, but that player should not be allowed induction into the Hall of Fame. Once 2004 came around, we all knew what was allowed and what was forbidden. Steroids were a no-no. I don’t care how good you are or how great of a teammate you are – if you have been caught once it was illegal, then you shouldn’t be allowed in. I think there is a distinct difference between before they were illegal and after, and the Hall of Fame should reflect that.
Which brings us to my opinion on Pete Rose: he should never be allowed into the Hall of Fame!
As baseball players, coaches, and management, there is one rule that has stood for nearly 100 years:
“Any player, umpire, or club official or employee, who shall bet any sum whatsoever upon any baseball game in connection with which the bettor has no duty to perform shall be declared ineligible for one year. Any player, umpire, or club or league official or employee, who shall bet any sum whatsoever upon any baseball game in connection with which the bettor has a duty to perform shall be declared permanently ineligible.”
Players and staff gambling on the game can lead to much bigger problems than PEDs ever could. MLB has made this very clear by how they handle gambling versus PED use. Players taking PEDs are looking for advantages over their fellow competitors while still playing to win every single game. But the issues that can arise from gambling can compromise the core integrity of the game. Having inside information on players, or even controlling the outcome of the game, has a much larger impact than seeking an advantage.
Rose broke the only rule he had, and he compromised the game. Then he lied about it for years and years, then he confessed, and then we found out he was still lying. But just because he was a great player, people want him in the Hall.
We are willing to open our arms to a guy who broke a rule repeatedly and compromised the integrity of the game, while punishing someone for doing something that was not only legal, but celebrated. That is backwards.