Not 'til he dies


Pete Rose in the Hall of Fame? No.

Of course he de­serves to be there. He’s ar­guably the great­est base­ball player of all time. Based on al­most ev­ery ob­jec­tive statistic, he de­serves his own wing in Coop­er­stown.

Ex­cept for one thing: He agreed to his life­time ban from base­ball.

For me, the de­bate ends there. If he hadn’t said yes, if he hadn’t agreed to it, I’d say for­get any­thing he did out­side of base­ball (in­clud­ing the gam­bling thing) and let him in. Give him the keys. It’s his place. He earned it.

But he agreed to the ban. Let me say that again: He. Agreed. To. The. Ban.

Open and shut. No Rose in the Hall.

I’m no Reds fan, but I ap­pre­ci­ate good base­ball when I see it. And I was for­tu­nate enough (I’m old enough) to have seen it. The man was as­ton­ish­ing. His hus­tle is leg­endary, and de­servedly so. He knew how to play and played hard, ev­ery day. As a workplace role model, you can’t eas­ily top Pete Rose.

Out­side the game? Well, that’s a dif­fer­ent and, in my opin­ion, ir­rel­e­vant story. I gen­uinely don’t care if he bet on base­ball, on his own team to win, with his own money. Frankly, bet­ting on one­self doesn’t seem a bad thing no mat­ter how far one digs.

But there’s that pesky life­time ban. Barry Bonds ap­par­ently did steroids. OK, fine. But he’s not agreed to or been banned from base­ball for life. Let him in. His stats show he de­serves it. Same with so many oth­ers, like Roger Cle­mens and Mark McGwire. Great play­ers with per­sonal weak­nesses for os­ten­si­bly cheat­ing. All de­serve the Hall.

Ty Cobb wasn’t a good man, by all ac­counts. So what? His stats were amaz­ing. He has and de­serves his spot in the Hall, even if I wouldn’t in­vite him to din­ner if he was still alive.

But Pete, oh Pete, why did you agree to that ban? I can’t get past it. Life­time means life­time. Base­ball means all things base­ball, in­clud­ing the Hall. Life­time ban from base­ball. Sorry, Pete.

I know I hold the mi­nor­ity view here. I’m com­fort­able with that. To me, Pete Rose wants to re­nege on some­thing he agreed to what must seem like a life­time ago. I get that.

On the day he dies, he should be in the Hall. Maybe ly­ing in state. He de­serves that for what he did in the game. But for agree­ing to a life­time ban, he de­serves only to be on the out­side look­ing in.

We all know he de­serves his place in the Hall. He just shouldn’t live to see it.

Harsh? That’s base­ball.

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