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Should Pete Rose be in the Hall of Fame?

Every single year at this same time, around the newest class of Baseball Hall of Famers is announced, the greatly debated topic of whether Pete Rose should have his lifetime ban lifted and finally be enshrined along with the greatest players to ever play the game. There is no denying that Pete Rose’s incredible numbers are Hall of Fame worthy. The league’s all-time hit leader led the Cincinnati Reds to three World Series titles, was a All-Star at five different positions and holds records for games plays, at-bats and singles. But as a manager, he bet on baseball, broke a rule and was banished from the league and the Hall because of it. Here as So Much Sports, the debate rages on. In this edition of Point – Counter Point we’re going at it. Read the arguments and you decide how you feel about it.

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Hall of Fame worthiness is based on merit, not character

By: Charlie Wright

The Hall of Fame is supposed to honor great achievement in baseball.  Who achieved greater than Pete Rose?

The Hall of Fame is supposed to honor great achievement in baseball. Who achieved greater than Pete Rose?

Pete Rose is not a great person. He disrespected the game of baseball and its rules by betting on it, and then compounded that mistake by lying about it for 15 years. Yet, regarding Hall of Fame induction, Rose should not be judged on his transgression, but by his statistics.

The numbers are overwhelming. Rose is known for holding the all-time hits record, with 4,256 in his career. He also holds records for games plays, at-bats and singles. He was a clutch postseason player, hitting .321 in 67 playoff games en route to three World Series titles. Rose may be the best utility player ever, making All-Star appearances at an unmatched five positions. But the statistics aren’t the reason Rose isn’t in the Hall of Fame.

Betting on baseball is a serious crime, and one that was met with a fitting punishment. Rose’s lifetime ban was harsh, but it was merited based on the gravity of his actions. His status on the permanently ineligible list excludes him from Hall of Fame eligibility, but this needs to change. The investigation into Rose’s betting habits did not find that he bet against the Cincinnati Reds, who he was managing at the time. It detailed the specific games and amounts of the bets, but not that he bet against his own team. This would suggest Rose did not act in any way that would alter the game, as he was always betting on his team to win.

Betting on baseball is against the rules, but from an ethical standpoint, Rose should be cleared because he bet on his own team. The main issue now seems to be that he lied about it. Rose adamantly denied gambling allegations, and did not easily comply with commissioner Bart Giamatti during the investigation. He was thoroughly questioned by reporters after being selected to Major League Baseball’s All-Century Team in 1999, but refused to admit any guilt, despite a great opportunity to do so on national television.

Rose came clean in his autobiography published in 2004, but for most people it was too late. His legacy is tainted by dishonesty, which is the main reason he is not a Hall of Famer. This just doesn’t make sense, considering the purpose of the Hall of Fame.

Inductees to Cooperstown are there because they are the greatest players to ever play the game. Players are judged by batting titles, gold gloves, and WAR, but not character. Yet voters are jaded by Rose’s lying and cheating, even though those actions do not detract from his dazzling career. He is lumped in with steroid users and other cheaters, even though his crime did not alter any statistics or results.

The ban on Rose needs to be lifted so he can be inducted into the Hall of Fame. His mistakes were numerous, but should not affect his playing career.

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There is no gray area, Pete Rose should stay banned from the Hall

By: Corey Johns

Pete Rose knew the rule and knew the consequences. He has to suffer them now.

Pete Rose knew the rule and knew the consequences. He has to suffer them now.

I used to be adamantly against Pete Rose’s ban from the Hall of Fame. I would sit there and argue why it was insane that one of the greatest hitters in the history of the game was not being remembered and honored and recognized in the Hall of Fame.

Why should betting on his team warrant not being allowed in the Hall of Fame? What does his actions as a manager, actions that never swayed the outcome of a game based on his bet, have to do with what great feats he achieved as a player? How could anybody say that betting on other games that didn’t involve him, affect his games when he’s the all-time leader in hits?

Anybody who knows anything about baseball knows the great accomplishments and great statistics that Pete Rose tallied as a player and of course there is no way to claim that he isn’t one of the greatest players ever. Performance is what should be recognized, not character. If it were the Hall of Great People Who Also Excelled at Baseball, Ty Cobb wouldn’t be anywhere near the Hall of Fame. But he got in because he was a great player.

But when I was in college, my second to last semester at UMBC, I was in a sports writing class. Our instructor was Mark Hyman. He’s a pretty notable sports writer, mostly for Business Week but who has also written for Yahoo Sports among other media outlets. The guy had connections in the sports world and one day after we just finished reading the classic Jim Bouton book Ball Four we were able to have a classroom phone meeting with Fay Vincent, the Commissioner of Major League Baseball from 1989 to 1992, who notably held up Bart Giamatti’s decision to ban Pete Rose.

Each student got the opportunity to ask Fay Vincent a question or two or in my case six. As one of the few students with experience conducting interviews, Mark asked me to take control of the questions so he wouldn’t just be asked generic “what was your favorite memory about being Commissioner” stuff. He challenged me to ask the hard questions, put him through the ringer. I asked about steroids, and Alex Rodriguez and I asked about the 1989 World Series. But of course, I had to ask him about Pete Rose.

And I remember, he said that he felt Pete Rose did not belong in the Hall of Fame but moments before he said if a young player uses steroids but was just misguided by a coach or trainer, he didn’t think that should warrant a ban. That didn’t sit well with me. Pete Rose’s cheating never changed the outcome of a game but a steroid user’s cheating obviously can change what happens.

So I asked him how he could defend that statement and that’s when he changed my mind forever on the topic. He prefaced what he said by saying that he won’t ever question how great Peter Rose was as a player and how the numbers he accumulated were legendary but the fact of the matter is, while there is a gray area with steroids, there was no gray area with betting. Stated in black and white in Major League Baseball’s rulebook, rule 21.d it says that “Any player, umpire, or club or league official or employee, who shall bet any sum whatsoever upon any baseball game in connection with which the better has a duty to perform shall be declared permanently ineligible.

Right there, in the rule book it says that Pete Rose’s actions warrant permanent banishment. Fay Vincent explained that Pete Rose undoubtedly knew the rule but thought he wouldn’t get caught and if he did, he thought his name would keep him out of trouble. That’s not the case.

Oh, and there is no way Rose could deny knowing the rule because as part of the misconduct rule, rule 21.g states “A printed copy of this Rule shall be kept posted in each clubhouse.”

Agree or disagree with the rule, it’s stated clear as day and he knew the consequences. If Pete Rose wasn’t the all-time leader in hits, nobody would have a problem permanently banning him from the game or the Hall so why should they make an exception for him? He knew the consequences, committed the crime anyway and has to suffer them. It’s that simple.

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So Much Sports is a Maryland Sports Website providing both news and commentary from everything from the Ravens to High School Sports in the State of Maryland.

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