I've been meaning to ask for your take on Pete Rose and his newsmaking of the past couple of weeks.
Pete Rose - absolutely positively no doubt about it belongs in the Hall of Fame. All of these self righteous commentators keep pointing out that there is a character component to being voted into the Hall of Fame. Um, okay. Does this mean that all members of the Hall of Fame who played before 1947 and were opposed to the breaking of the color barrier should not be in the Hall? Does this mean that all the members of the Hall who were boozing, womanizing, adulterous assholes shouldn't be in the Hall (this means you, Babe)? If the character component were that important, we would be left with Christy Mathewson, Lou Gehrig, and Dale Murphy and no one else. Two players have gotten 4000 hits in their careers. One was an alcoholic, mean spirited racist asshole who played hard and dirty, always hustled, was never afraid to slide with his spikes high, would rather crash into an opposing catcher as slide around him, was hated by opponents as well as teammates, and happens to have been on of the fiercest competitors in the history of professional sports. The other was Pete Rose. If Ty Cobb is is eligible for the Hall of Fame, Pete Rose should be, too. Pete Rose is a moron, and a classless hick, for that matter, but he was a hell of a ball player.
The problem here is not the Hall of Fame, it is Pete Rose, Major League Baseball employee. What we don't want is Pete on a team, up to his usual shenanigans. If Rose is reinstated, common sense will probably prevent Pete from ending up on any teams, anyway.
And oh by the way, yes, there is a character component. So, let the voters vote, and if they feel that he doesn't meet the component, then they won't vote for him. I can't believe I just realized this. Just because there is a character component to the Hall of Fame doesn't mean that Pete should not be ELIGIBLE. It just means that, if the voters wish, they don't have to vote for him. That character component crap is a terrible argument for not reinstating him.
I pretty much agree with you about Pete Rose. The one thing that gives me pause, and I'd like to hear how you address this- the argument that while others have certainly had worse character, Rose may have threatened the integrity of the game itself by gambling. And then, how do you feel about Shoeless Joe? Even though I think it's arguably a little bit worse to straight up lose games on purpose.
Personally, I think Shoeless Joe should be in the Hall of Fame, too. The thing that is important to understand about Shoeless Joe is that he is not banned from baseball for gambling or for throwing the World Series in 1919 because all evidence points to his being innocent. He was banned from baseball because he sat in the presence of gamblers, knew of the scheme, and did nothing to prevent it, whether by reporting it or by preventing his teammates from throwing the Series. The commissioner at the time was a retired Judge, and his ruling is actually very consistent with the notion of criminal conspiracy, in which one is guilty literally by association, since he was a part of the plan and knew of the plan and did nothing to prevent the plan from being fulfilled. His numbers in the series indicated that he did not take part and, as I recall, were pretty ridiculously good in the series.
Also consider this: in 1919, there was a genuine possibility of gambling ruining baseball. Many people were doing it, and the outcomes of big games were often known. So, when the entire World Series was thrown because of gambling, severe action was called for. I don't think this is so much the case here. Rose's gambling took place in the eighties, when there was no such chance. Although I think MLB should investigate Grady's Little's connection to Boston and New York area gamblers, gambling just isn't as big of a deal these days as it was back then. And another thing: Rose may have compromised the integrity of the game as a manager, but guess what, his managerial record ain't what's gonna get him into the Hall. His playing days are what the Hall of Fame is going to look at, and as a player he was part of the greatest non-Yankees dynasty of the last fifty or sixty years. In fact, as a PLAYER, he did the opposite of compromise the integrity of the game; he WAS the integrity of baseball. A hard nosed, hustling, never say die player who took marginal talent and one of the least athletic bodies in recent memory and became a legend. Ironic, ain't it.
Pete Rose: asshole, deserves a chance to be voted into the Hall
Shoeless Joe: idiot (literally, I think he was illiterate), deserves to be in the Hall, but the example made out of him and his teammates was a necessary one
Babe Ruth: womanizer, bad attitude, no respect for authority; deserves to be in the Hall of Fame
Cap Anson, Ty Cobb, Enos Slaughter, many others: racists, bigots, assholes; deserve to be in the Hall of Fame