Rose and the Hall (Sigh.)

So some journalist reports that some Hall of Famers (whom I’m sure Czar Bud respects very much, but to whom he has no reason or obligation to listen on this issue) have mentioned to Selig that they think Pete Rose belongs in the Hall of Fame. That journalist extrapolates, out of thin air, that this means Selig is “seriously considering” reinstating Rose. (Seriously, that’s it. Read the article. All he has to go on is that Hank Aaron said something, and that Selig likes Aaron.)

Based on this, whatever it is, this “news” was everywhere, all day. All it takes is a Hall of Fame ceremony and one piece of terribly irresponsible journalism, and Charlie Hustle is back on everybody’s mind. That piece of irresponsible journalism has since been predictably and fully refuted, but not before anyone who tuned into Mike and Mike in the Morning, or Sirius/XM Home Plate, or browsed past ESPN or a number of other sports outlets or blogs, had to put up with a full day of uninformed, senseless debate.

So about that senseless debate…let’s continue it! Should Pete be reinstated (or just go into the Hall without being reinstated by baseball itself; not debating the two alternatives, since no baseball team will ever hire him, so either one would have essentially the same impact)?

I discovered today that I’m of two minds on this issue. Or two somethings, anyway. So I’m going to do a bit of point-counterpoint, with myself. Deal with it.

POINT: No way, no how does that ass belong in the Hall of Fame.
by: Everything Bill Knows and Believes

MLB Rule 21 says, in part (subpart (d), to be exact):

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.

This rule hasn’t been touched since well before Pete’s career started. It was, as most everyone familiar with this debate knows by now, posted on the bulletin board of every clubhouse at every park in which Pete played or managed, and continues to be posted there today. Pete did whatever he did with full knowledge that he was violating this rule, and with full knowledge of the rule’s consequences…or if not that, with deliberate and inexcusable ignorance thereof.

And it’s true that the Hall of Fame didn’t officially adopt the mirror rule until Pete’s case came up, but Shoeless Joe never made it in either. And no matter what anyone tells you, while the Hall is a museum, its purpose is to celebrate baseball, not merely chronicle it. Does it really make sense to enshrine someone that baseball has seen fit to banish from the game? If there were an anti-PED policy posted in every clubhouse throughout the 1990s that carried permanent banishment along with it, you can bet I’d be dead set against Bonds, McGwire et al. too.

And it’s not just about following the letter of the rule; there’s damn good reason for that rule. Even if we knew he never bet against his own team — and we won’t know for sure until Pete decides he needs more money and publishes another book telling us he did do it — just betting on one’s own team creates all kinds of incentives and pressures that have nothing to do with trying one’s best to win each individual game. If there’s one thing that professional sports should have a no-tolerance policy for, it’s gambling on a game the bettor is involved in.

Pete Rose was a great player for 15 seasons. (Unfortunately, he selfishly hung around for six mostly terrible ones afterward to nab that hits record, but his actual performance isn’t the issue here.) He also very likely did more than anyone in the last 90 years or so to cheapen the game and threaten its integrity. He did so knowing he might be banned for it, and he got banned for it. Let him stay that way.

COUNTERPOINT: Get this ass off my TV.
by: Bill’s Deep Loathing of Pete Rose and the Idiotic Half-Formed Arguments People Try to Make for Him

I agree with everything that EBKAB says above. But at the same time, this issue won’t go away until Pete dies (and maybe not even then, since there are still Shoeless Joe apologists out there too). And this issue is really, really freaking annoying. It’s miserable, painful almost, to visit anything from a random internet message board to ESPN.com and read arguments about why the Hall just isn’t the Hall without Pete and so on. It’s even worse to get to this time of the year and see Rose on my TV, shamelessly begging to be let in so he can charge an extra ten bucks an autograph.

So: put an end to it. Let the guy in. It’ll be like ripping off a band-aid; the year he goes in, the media coverage will be as unbearable as if Brett Favre retired again, Tiger Woods missed a cut and Terrell Owens said something all on the same day (best if it happened in a year when no actual worthwhile human beings were going into the Hall for Pete to overshadow). But then, you know what? He’ll be mostly forgotten. Nobody in the media cares about a “story” anymore once there’s no more anticipated action to it; once Rose is in, there’s nowhere else for him to go. Story over. I mean, yeah, they’ll show a shot or two of him behind the podium at induction ceremonies, and maybe he’ll get booed up there or something, which would be news, but it’ll barely be a blip. All the contentious debate about Jim Rice ended the moment he was inducted. Nobody really cares what Michael Irvin does anymore. Sure, there are some unique elements about Rose’s case, but is there really a reason to expect this to be all that different? He can say whatever he wants to, but nothing else is ever going to happen. He’ll just be another guy. Pretty much.

Put him in. Shut him up. Try your best to forget he ever existed.

—————————————————

So overall, point 1 wins. There’s absolutely no way Pete Rose belongs anywhere near the Hall, and it might actually make me sick if and when he goes in. But if that happens, I’ll try to take some small comfort in the fact that we’ll all be hearing a lot less from Pete from then forward.
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4 Responses to “Rose and the Hall (Sigh.)”

  1. Minerva Says:

    It actually almost made me sick to see that pic of Rose in his skivvies…urp…seriously, you should have put a warning at the top of this or something. On the plus side, it seems that Rose is one of the few poetically-just cases of being just as ugly on the outside as he is on the inside…
    BTW, I really enjoyed this one…you rarely argue with yourself. πŸ™‚

  2. Ron Rollins Says:

    There's nothing wrong with arguing with yourself. But when you start losing the argument, you have some issues.

    I agree, Rose doesn't belong. He broke the cardinal rule of baseball, and one that almost destroyed it several times.

    I'm not against a post-humous induction, but only if Shoeless Joe goes in first.

  3. lar Says:

    I agree, Bill, with both of yourselves. Pete did the worst thing a professional athlete can do, and he did it knowing full-well the punishment. And, as much as zero-tolerance policies can cause conflict from my much-too-willing-to-see-both-sides-of-the-issue soul, this seems like one I can fully get behind.

    But then I think about the Hall as a museum of baseball history. And, while you're right that the Hall is also intended to honor and celebrate the sport, I still think a museum as the responsibility to show all sides of its subject. "Whitewashing history" sounds a little harsh in this instance, but, minus the strong connotations of the phrase, I don't think there's a better term for it.

    So there's that. But then I think again about how well the punishment serves to discourage gambling, and I think it's a great thing. After all, there's really only been the one gambling problem since the Black Sox Scandal. If players were this afraid of using PEDs, then the issue would've disappeared years ago.

    And so on…

    I don't think this issue will ever go away as long as Pete is still alive and still banished. He's such a pompous, aggrandizing fool that he'll never let the discussion die, and he has too much of a case – career-wise – for it to be ignored. That's not to say that it's enough reason to put him in, but it's enough to make me waffle back and forth every time I consider his place in history.

    I think I'm leaning towards the "Hall as a chronicler of all history, no matter how nefarious" side of things right now…

    (Maybe they should go with a permanent exhibit about gambling in the sport – and maybe, in a couple of decades, they could expand it to include PEDs in the sport, if it seems necessary – and focus on the "disgraced hit-king" or the "disgraced heroes". Talk about their accomplishments as well as their downfall. That way, they're in the Hall without being properly "honored". They can call it "Say It Ain't So".)

  4. Bill Says:

    Kind of a minor point, since we're both talking about kind of grudgingly putting him in, but I can't fully get behind the argument that the Hall is there to chronicle baseball history. The museum is there for that purpose, and that's why there is (or has been) Rose memorabilia over there, but that gallery with all the plaques is there not merely to chronicle, but to celebrate the greats who have earned places there, and I think Rose has absolutely forfeited that.

    And as I said, if the PED guys had violated the same kind of clear rule with the same clear punishment, I'd be against including them either. But they didn't (and they're not even the ones that threatened the integrity of the game, IMO, it was Selig, Fehr and the others who let it happen on a macro level). So I don't think it's really the same thing at all; Pete out, Barry in, unless you want to let Pete in just to shut him up. πŸ™‚

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