Archive for the ‘Hall of Fame’ Category

Rose and the Hall (Sigh.)

July 28, 2009

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 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.

Because I have to post something today

July 17, 2009

Yesterday, there were two different and, I think, kind of crazy, posts on the Hall of Fame and steroids made by two very different people. (If it hasn’t come through yet, I’m in the stop-moralizing-and-put-them-all-in camp, and I’m sure there will be a day to discuss that, but today is not that day.)

First: Jeff Pearlman puts out this one. It’s almost a caricature of the typical indignant whine: “But they cheated! What’s happening to this country? Think of the children! Integrity! Sportsmanship! Character!” Which is certainly not surprising coming from him, but nonetheless disappointing, since I’ve been reading his blog for a couple months now and find that I really enjoy almost everything he writes about any topic other than baseball. People just have blind spots, I guess.

Consider this, though: “As soon as they chose to cheat—to violate the law of the United States in an effort to enhance their careers—they deemed themselves ineligible.”

One day earlier: Pete Rose belongs in the Hall of Fame.

Come on, man. At least be consistent with the reasons behind your crazy.

Second: Meanwhile, Bill James comes out with his thoughts on the topic, which would be a big deal except that link is subscription-only (though it’s only a very-worth-it three bucks a month) and has been read by a grand total of 200 people so far.

It should come as no surprise that I like Bill James. A lot. “Revere” probably isn’t too strong of a word. “Worship”? Debatable. I’ve read unauthorized biographies (okay, biography) of Bill James. I have friends that call me Bill James. There are, finally, a few really extreme numbers people who are starting to resist this notion, since he’s kind of softened his stances in the last few years, but I maintain that everything good that happens in baseball these days goes back to Bill James at some level.

But this article? Kind of crazy.

Okay, only one part of it. The first part, where he says that all the steroid users will go into the Hall eventually because “steroids keep you young” and eventually “every citizen will routinely take” steroids (which he then calls “anti-aging pills”) “every day.” Now, I’m fully prepared to accept that Bill knows a lot more than I do about everything there is to know in the world (the law, my own personal life, you name it), but that seems really out there to me. I’m hoping it’s satire and I’m just missing the joke…but I don’t get that sense from reading it at all.

Most of the rest of the article is great, actually. James argues that (2) the moral high ground will vanish once someone who used PEDs gets in (and they will, even if it takes someone about whom the news doesn’t leak until they’re already in); (3) “History is forgiving[, and] statistics endure,” something I’ve been saying since this whole mess started; and (4) old teammates advocating for their PED-using brethren will help get them in (not sure how I feel about this, but it’s not crazy).

And fifth, James puts forward the best pro-inclusion argument I know of in the most eloquent way I’ve ever seen it put. Just trying to take the very best bits while hopefully still respecting Bill’s proprietary rights:

It seems to me that, at some point, this becomes an impossible argument to sustain—that all of these players were “cheating”, in a climate in which most everybody was doing the same things, and in which there was either no rule against doing these things or zero enforcement of those rules. If one player is using a corked bat, like Babe Ruth, clearly, he’s cheating. But if 80% of the players are using corked bats and no one is enforcing any rules against it, are they all cheating?

It seems to me that, with the passage of time, more people will come to understand that the commissioner’s periodic spasms of self-righteousness do not constitute baseball law. It seems to me that the argument that it is cheating must ultimately collapse under the weight of carrying this great contradiction—that 80% of the players are cheating against the other 20% by violating some “rule” to which they never consented, which was never included in the rule books, and which for which there was no enforcement procedure. History is simply NOT going to see it that way.

I would encourage you to subscribe, to read the whole article, and to soak up everything else on his site as thoroughly as you can. But anyway, I’d have to say that fifth argument absolves him of all the crazy of his first argument. Pretty solid stuff there.

Feel free to discuss/berate/question in the comments.