Keeping Rose out of Hall 'more than a bit hypocritical'

January 08, 2004|KATHERINE BELCHER

Baseball commissioner Bud Selig is getting his wish - Pete Rose is admitting that he bet on baseball.

Now it's time for Rose to get his due and for Selig to end Rose's lifetime ban from baseball, thereby clearing the way for his induction into the Baseball Hall of Fame.

In Rose's new autobiography, "My Prison Without Bars," he admits that he bet both on baseball and for the Cincinnati Reds to win, according to excerpts from the book appearing in this week's issue of Sports Illustrated. He denies ever betting on the Reds to lose. Call me a sucker, but I believe him.

No matter how you feel about Rose's gambling, or the fact that he lied about it for 14 years, most people agree that Rose deserves to be in the Hall of Fame. Whether you love him or hate him, you can't take away his accomplishments on the field and his indelible impact on baseball.


Rose's induction into Cooperstown is long overdue. Not because I want to diminish the seriousness of breaking baseball's rule against gambling (even though sports and gambling are as synonymous as Michael Jordan and basketball), but because it seems more than a bit hypocritical to keep Rose out of the game when it welcomes back problem players who can best be classified as habitual criminal offenders - anyone know if Darryl Strawberry is still in jail?

Players like Strawberry, Steve Howe and Dwight Gooden are just a few of the players who have been welcomed back into the game with open arms and can best be described as the poster children for second, third and even seventh chances.

Pitcher Steve Howe was banned from baseball for life only after his seventh suspension for substance abuse. Seven - are you kidding me?

Howe's ban was eventually overturned by an arbitrator who felt that Howe needed cocaine to deal with his attention deficit disorder. I hope that arbitrator isn't working as a parole officer now.

Then there's Yankee owner George Steinbrenner, who was suspended for two years in 1974 after pleading guilty to making illegal contributions to Richard Nixon's campaign. More importantly, Steinbrenner also received a lifetime ban in 1990 after paying someone $40,000 to dig up dirt on player Dave Winfield. The suspension in 1974 lasted only nine months and the lifetime ban lasted only two years.

In one of the most absurd of suspensions, Willie Mays and Mickey Mantle were both banned in 1983 after they accepted jobs at resorts and casinos, which amounted to no more than making promotional appearances at public events. Fortunately for both, they were already in the Hall of Fame, and were reinstated in 1995 after Peter Ueberroth took over as commissioner.

The bottom line is that Selig needs to put an end to Rose's ban and allow him the chance to get into the Hall of Fame.

For 14 years, baseball has punished Rose, the player, for actions committed by Rose, the manager. It's not only unfair, it's hypocrisy at its most pronounced when compared with the actions of some of his peers.

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