In the wake of learning of Alex Rodriguez's past steroid use, we once again have many more questions than answers.
Let's forget he used anabolic steroids, and whether he's actually sorry. The main point to be discused is whether or not admitted (or documented) steroid users with Hall of Fame numbers should be allowed into the Hall.
The short answer is not until Pete Rose gets in first.
The list of records Pete Rose holds is staggering. The cliff-notes version—most career hits (4,256), most career games played (3,562) and most seasons of 200+ hits (10).
He has an NL-record 44 consecutive games with a hit. He is the only player in MLB history to play 500+ games at five different positions. He has won World Series titles, MVPs, Gold Gloves and he is a 17-time All-Star.
Pete Rose was banned from baseball in 1989 by then MLB commissioner Bart Giamatti after the "Dowd Report" described details of Rose's gambling on baseball. Not only did Pete Rose bet on baseball, but he placed bets on various baseball games, including the Cincinnati Reds as the team's manager. He was publicly shamed, and thrown out of the baseball world.
Fast forward twenty years and Rose looks like a saint compared to the players in the game today.
As of now, there are a handful of players that have had their names tarnished by positive steroid tests, and there are literally more than 100 others who we do not know about yet.
The home run numbers that were posted in the late '90s across the league were almost silly, but there are no questions about Rose's total hits, his consistency or his All-Star appearances. Pete Rose really produced all those records, and for that, the Hall of Fame should feel fortunate to have Rose as a member.
There are members of the Hall of Fame that have engaged in their own cheating and have had no major threats to be kicked out of the Hall. Gaylord Perry is in the Hall with more than 300 victories and more than 3,500 strikeouts, but we don't know are how many victories and strikeouts could be attributed to Perry's famous spitball.
Performance enhancing substance? Yes. Cheating baseball? Yes. Hall of Fame? Yes.
Pete Rose's offense against baseball hurt in a moral fashion, but his gambling did not have any affect on his career stats. While this is not a plea to allow Pete Rose into the Hall of Fame, I believe it is very important that Pete Rose be admitted to the Hall of Fame before a single player from the Steroid Era makes it in.
It's the only way baseball's Hall will have any credibility in the years to come.
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