Photo of Barry Bonds swinging at the plate while playing for the San Francisco Giants.

Barry Bonds

Image Credit: Kevin Rushforth (CC BY-SA 2.0)

Steroids. Gambling. Lying. Cheating. Like any other professional sports league, Major League Baseball has seen it's share of questionable characters. The league has done an excellent job at reprimanding it's players and keeping them in check. But when it's all said and done, whether or not that player should be allowed into the Hall of Fame in Cooperstown always comes up. Newly appointed baseball commissioner Robert Manfred is currently in talks with former Cincinnati Red Pete Rose and his attorneys to decide if he will lift Rose's ban from the Major League Baseball Hall of Fame. Rose is baseball's all time leading hitter with 4,256 hits. If the ban is indeed lifted, why stop with Pete Rose? 

From what then commissioner Fay Vincent was able to prove, Pete Rose only bet on baseball while he was a coach of the Cincinnati Reds from 1984 to 1989. As most Cincinnati Reds fans would argue, what Rose did as a player and a coach are two different things. No different than Phil Jackson as a basketball player (good) and his legendary accolades as a head coach (great). 

Photo of Pete Rose signing autographs during an in store appearance.

Pete Rose

Image Credit: JS42-Flickr (CC BY-ND 2.0)

While I agree with that sentiment, shouldn't whether or not Rose is sorry and has changed also play part in issuing his reinstatement? Pete Rose lived in denial that he bet on baseball from 1989 to 2004. And as you can see in this ESPN 30 for 30 short titled "Here Now", Pete still lives and operates in the gambling mecca known as Las Vegas, NV. If you're naive enough to believe that he's not gambling anymore, then I feel sorry for you. 

As kooky as the Major League Baseball writers are, it's safe to say that while Pete Rose may eventually be allowed to be on the Hall of Fame ballot, he will likely never be inducted into the hall. Or at least he will never live to see himself elected into the Hall of Fame. While we're  on the subject, why not include the Skechers commercial in which Rose polks fun at himself and the baseball writers? 

The "Steroid Era" has also cast a large shadow on Major League Baseball and the integrity of it's players. Many of the alleged steroid users aren't banned but as we know it now, will never be elected to the Hall of Fame in Cooperstown, New York. Like Pete Rose, Barry Bonds is the all time home run leader (762 home runs) and is the face of most of the steroid conversations when they do come up. Whether fans want to admit it or not, Bonds had already hit over 350 home runs before he even began taking steroids. Those numbers alone prove that he was of baseball Hall of Fame worthiness. His steroid use is known to have began circa 1999-2000. His motivation was perhaps triggered following the insane home run numbers amassed by Mark McGwire and Sammy Sosa in 1998. 

Also joining Barry Bonds in the long list of accused or known steroid users include Roger Clemens, Mark Mcgwire, Sammy Sosa, Rafael Palmeiro, Jason Giambi, Manny Ramirez, Alex Rodriguez, David Ortiz, Ryan Braun and Nelson Cruz. Jose Canseco has also been a key figure in Major League Baseball's steroid era, perhaps because of his tell all book entitled "Juiced" in which he recounted the entire era and many players' motivations for taking the drugs.  He received a ton of criticism from the book and was abandoned by former friends and teammates (Mcgwire) because of it's content.  


Regardless of whether or not you agree with the decisions made by former players like Rose and Bonds, there are other characters in the Hall of Fame that were equally as controversial and polarizing. Ty Cobb, baseball's second all time hits leader (4,191), was perhaps the dirtiest player to ever play baseball. He also was quiet possibly the meanest S.O.B. in the history of sports. Even his teammates hated him. It wasn't uncommon for Cobb to sharpen his cleats and slide feet first into infielders on defense. As Cobb would put it "the rules gave me right of way and allowed for me to do it". Former pitcher Dutch Leonard also claims that Ty Cobb bet on a baseball game he knew was fixed in 1926. Ty Cobb, however, is in the Major League Baseball Hall of Fame. 

I truly believe that ALL former baseball greats with records of a certain number belong in the Major League Baseball Hall of Fame. This includes even recent retirees such as Carlos Delgado, Adam Dunn and Paul Konerko. What players like Pete Rose and Barry Bonds did off of the baseball diamond is all part of their narrative. Just document their controversies and accusations on a plaque in Cooperstown and let them ride off into the sunset.


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