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.