CHRIS NEEDHAM: It’s time for the Hall of Fame to do right by Pete Rose.
There’s no doubt that Charlie Hustle is a Hall-of-Fame talent. Reciting his resume here would be pointless. Were he a choirboy or even just your run-of-the-mill ne’er-do-well, he’d be in the Hall.
But he wasn’t. He was a stupid, borderline sociopathic, narcissistic, degenerate gambler.
When baseball put him on the permanently ineligible list, the Hall of Fame quickly amended their rules, clarifying that scumbags (I mean that in the most charitable way possible) would not be eligible for enshrinement amongst the other all-time greats like Maury Wills, Cap Anson or Ty Cobb.
In doing so, the Hall denied Mr. Hustle’s due process. It’s time to change that, and do what’s best for his favorite person: himself.
I say that baseball should let Petey back in the game. He’d be the perfect litmus test. If you’re a major league owner and your front office comes to you asking you to sign off on his hiring, you’ve got the perfect grounds for dismissal. (Note: May not apply in Cincinnati.)
But by letting him back into the game, he’d also be eligible for the Hall. This is where the Hall should get creative, bending their rules once again, as they did when Rose was first banned. Since his 15-year window of eligibility is now closed, I say let’s do right by Pete and reset the clock.
Let the baseball writers decide whether Pete is good for the Hall.
If it takes one vote, great. If it takes two, three, four, or eleven, better. If it takes all fifteen, perhaps that’s best.
If, by some chance the petty little writers can’t overlook how Rose crapped all over the sanctity of the game, violated its most cardinal rule, then lied over a series of years until finally admitting his guilt only when he had a book deal that benefited him financially, then so be it.
It’s up to the Veterans’ Committee then. Give his peers a crack at voting him in; after all, they know his degeneracy best.
So if it takes ’til 2029 for Mr. Rose to get in, that’s perfectly fine. Sure, he’ll be 88 then, but getting in is better than not, right?
I bet you agree: Doing right by Pete is something we should all get behind.
HOWARD MEGDAL: I tend to be receptive to the argument that with many other flawed human beings in the Baseball Hall of Fame, Pete Rose and his 4,256 career hits belong there as well.
But try as I might, I can’t summon up the outrage necessary to write in support of him, make up placards, and demonstrate outside of the vaunted halls of Cooperstown, NY.
Pete Rose bet on baseball; he’s never seemed remotely sorry for doing so. Whether we think it should matter or not, character is written into the list of aspects voters need to take into account. Just because past voters failed to do so doesn’t mean current voters should as well. Maybe voters decades ago couldn’t discern that Ty Cobb’s racism should be a disqualifying characteristic; should that mean Rose’s gambling and all other transgressions also get a pass?
To me, a big Hall guy, the exclusion of Gil Hodges is a much bigger deal. Hodges was not the player Rose was in terms of total value. However, Hodges, to my mind, has the resume of a Hall of Famer as a player, he’s won a World Series as a manager, and his character is beyond dispute.
Put Gil Hodges in the Hall of Fame, and then we can talk about Pete Rose.