Thursday, August 27, 2009

This Jockey ad alone should be reason enough not to put Pete Rose in the Hall of Fame

Should Pete Rose be inducted in the Baseball Hall of Fame?

Ever since the 1919 Black Sox scandal very nearly destroyed the one thing most Americans thought could not be destroyed, baseball, Major League Baseball has made it abundantly clear that the single worst thing anyone in baseball can do - outside of committing murder - is to bet on baseball. If you do bet on baseball, you get a death sentence: a lifetime ban. Period. End of story. No exceptions.

You know it, I know it, anyone who has ever watched or been to a baseball game knows it. But you know who knows it more than anyone? Professional baseball players. They have "There is no gambling on baseball, period" pounded into their heads every single day.

But for now, let's forget all about the fact that Pete Rose ignored all that and bet on baseball anyway- and lied about it for decades.

Even without the gambling, Pete Rose doesn't automatically deserve to be in the Hall of Fame.

The Hall of Fame is reserved for very special players. Players who stick out, not just on their team, but in the entire league and for many years. Look at the Cincinnati Reds teams on which Rose played. Johnny Bench. Ken Griffey. Joe Morgan. Tony Perez. Davey Concepcion. Later, pitcher Tom Seaver.

Pete Rose was maybe the sixth or seventh best player on his own team. That is not sticking out. Now, granted, that was a great team, but being sixth best on your team doesn't make you a lock to get in to the Hall.

What about the all time hit record?

Records do not, by themselves, get you in the Hall of Fame, just ask the family of Roger Maris. Ask Mark McGwire in a few years. And Sammy Sosa. And Raphael Palmeiro.

And the all time hits isn't a great record anyway. You last long enough you will get records. Time brings respectability to whores, crooked politicians and ugly buildings.

And how many times did a selfish Rose go for a hit when his team could have had him advance the runner or make a sac. fly? Make no mistake, the hustle in "Charlie Hustle" was all for Pete and his record.

OK, yes, Rose won the batting title in 1969, hitting an impressive .348. But he did it by bunting for a hit to beat out the great and classy Roberto Clemente by one lousy bunt hit. Rose somehow managed to make winning a batting title seem sleazy.

What about three batting titles, an MVP and three World Series rings (don't forget the team he was on) and two Golden Gloves and a Rookie-of-the-year? That is all very impressive. But it is only impressive when one is assuming they were accomplished by somebody who did not bet on baseball.

OK, after looking at his career hitting numbers, I have to admit I was wrong. Rose did bring effort and hustle every day to the ball park, and that is a great asset for any team. And Rose wanted to win as much or more than anyone out there. And, all things being equal, a lifetime .303 hitter should probably be in the Hall. OK, fine, if Rose had not bet on baseball, yes, he would, without any doubt, deserve to be in the Baseball Hall of Fame.

But Pete Rose did bet on baseball.

And what about all the things Rose did not do besides not gamble on baseball? He couldn't run fast, he couldn't hit for power, he couldn't throw really hard. Physically anyway, Rose was a one or two tool player, and, as it turns out, quite a tool at that.

But let's not hold the fact that Rose is an arrogant idiot tool against him, if we took all of the arrogant idiot tools out of the Baseball Hall of Fame it would just be the Jackie Robinson, Ernie Banks and Stan Musial Hall of Fame. (Sorry, Babe, but it's true)

The question should not be whether or not Pete Rose deserves to be in the Hall of Fame - he doesn't deserve to be in the Hall of Fame - the question is: why isn't Ron Santo in the Hall of Fame?