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Comments aside, Rose should be in Hall of Fame

Published 7:52pm Wednesday, August 21, 2013

Pete Rose isn’t afraid to speak his mind, and, when it comes to baseball, Rose knows what he’s talking about.

Major League Baseball’s all-time leader with 4,256 base hits put together a career that made him a lock for the Hall of Fame.

But Rose made a big mistake. Even people not familiar with baseball know about Rose’s gambling problem and the subsequent investigation and lifetime ban.

Rose compounded his mistake with an ego that didn’t want to admit he had bet on baseball and the belief he — the great Pete Rose — could beat the allegations.

The ego lost.

Baseball commissioner Bart Giamatti concluded from the book of evidence that Rose was guilty and banned him from baseball. However, Giamatti actually offered Rose a one-year ban and said he could apply for re-instatement.

Rose didn’t want the deal and was going to fight it. But Giamatti suffered a heart attack and died, leaving Fay Vincent as the commissioner.

Vincent not only was at the lead in the investigation but was part of the decision process to ban Rose. Unlike Giamatti, Vincent opposed Rose’s re-instatement.

Rose never would admit he bet on baseball for 14 years. He finally came clean although everyone believed for years that he was guilty.

Does this sound familiar?

Today baseball is facing the steroid era with performance enhancing drugs (PED). Just a few weeks ago suspensions were handed down to 14 players.

Unlike Rose, players like Roger Clemens, Sammy Sosa, Mark McGwire and Barry Bonds were never suspended, although everyone suspects they are lying. McGwire is the only one to admit he used PEDs and he is currently the hitting coach for the Los Angeles Dodgers.

As one might expect, Rose had to speak his mind on the subject. Although his point was understood, his choice of words were, well, like swinging at a bad pitch with the bases loaded.

“And to be honest with you, I picked the wrong vice. I should have picked alcohol. I should have picked drugs or I should have picked beating up my wife or girlfriend because if you do those three, you get a second chance. They haven’t given too many gamblers a second chance in the world of baseball,” said Rose.

While Rose was right that baseball — as well as other sports and the world of entertainment — might not like or condone such things, players always seem to get a second or third chance for anything short of murder.

Rose had time to think about what he said and — probably after a call from his agent or lawyer — offered an apology and tried to erase any hard feelings between his statements and baseball’s hierarchy.

“If I’ve learned anything over the past 24 year since my banishment from baseball, it’s to own up to my failures right away. I was feeling sorry for myself when I compared my vice to others, including abuse and drinking. Of course, all vices are not to be excused. I know gambling almost destroyed baseball and I have accepted the way commissioners Giamatti, Vincent and Selig acted toward me.”

If any of the steroid-era players are allowed in the Hall of Fame, then there is no reason to keep Rose out. His numbers were his, not any PED.

The only thing Rose should leave for baseball to ban are some of his comments.


Jim Walker is sports editor of The Ironton Tribune.

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