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Why America needs Pete Rose out of baseball’s Hall-Of-Fame

May 13, 2014

Sports Illustrated ran a lead story outlining the case for putting Pete Rose into the Hall-of-Fame. But the author, Kostya Kennedy, only undermines Rose’s argument by making a comparison between the Reds Manager and steroid users.


Last month, Sports Illustrated ran a front-page headline, and following article, trying to make the case for Pete Rose to make Baseball’s Hall-of-Fame in Cooperstown, New York. But all the author, Kostya Kennedy, accomplished was to remind us why he should never be enshrined in that hallowed ground.


The article showed some event where nearby, Pete Rose was close to Cooperstown, surrounded by adoring fans and well-wishers. The piece lauded his lifetime accomplishments on the field. Both contained nice sentiments, but really didn’t make the case for why Rose needed to be considered among Cooperstown elite.


Appearing to recognize the need for some sort of legal component, the article tried to make the case why Rose was “less bad” than some others under consideration for the Hall-of-Fame, comparing Rose to some steroid abusers.“Rose has been banished for the incalculable damage he might have done to the foundation of the game,” Kennedy writes. “Steroid users are reviled for the damage they actually did.”


Might have done?


Let’s review what Rose did, and what he admits to. After years of lying to everyone about his actions, Rose finally admitted he bet on baseball, but claimed he only bet on his team to win. What would be the harm in that?


By inviting the comparison to steroid abusers, Rose’s supporter only further undermined his case for Cooperstown. Everyone who knows anything about baseball is aware of the cardinal sin of gambling. There are constant reminders that members of the game betting on the support, or receiving payoffs to throw games, is a big no-no. Rose would have a hard time convincing anyone he never heard of the 1919 Chicago White Sox and how they were banned for life from baseball for such actions.


Rose was very aware of all of this. He knew what he was doing. Given his prior denials of gambling in the first place, his claim to only bet on his team to win is quite dubious. Even if he did, he would deserve a lifetime ban, but numerous questionable calls and use or misuse of pitchers during this time further undermine his claim about only betting on his team to win.


Steroid-using players, while also reprehensible, didn’t have the same clear precedent that Rose had. It was a relatively new thing. Of course, they should have known, given how harshly Major League Baseball dealt with cocaine users, and that wasn’t even a performance-enhancer. Of course Barry Bonds, Mark McGwire, Sammy Sosa, Rafael Palmeiro, and Roger Clemens don’t belong in the Hall-of-Fame either. But they didn’t have a 1919 World Series lesson that everyone else in baseball had.


I get it that Rose was a hard worker; he earned the name “Charlie Hustle.” He’s the all-time hits leader. But if Major League Baseball lets in Rose, or any confirmed steroid abuser, they’re telling every kid looking to play baseball that it’s okay to break the rules, so long as you work hard, and set records and sell tickets. They’ll make an exception for you…don’t worry.