There have been recent reports that Baseball Commissioner Bud Selig is thinking about lifting the ban on Pete Rose from baseball.
Where does the line get drawn then, Bud?
What about the eight White Sox players, Joe Jackson, Eddie Cicotte, Lefty Williams, Chick Gandil, Fred McMullen, Swede Risberg, Happy Felsch, and Buck Weaver, who were involved in the "Black Sox" scandal?
What about known steroid users? What is considered cheating?
Why is it Kenesaw Landis, the first commissioner of baseball, is in the Hall of Fame when he stated no black player would ever play while he was commissioner, but players like Jim Rice and Ron Santo have to bend over backwards just to get in (Santo still has not gotten in) when they clearly have the numbers, but aren't well-liked?
What about George Bechtel and Louisville Grays who were banned in 1876 for conspiring with teammates to throw a game for $500?
What about Jim Devlin, George Hall, Bill Craver and Al Nichols who were banned in 1877 for conspiring to throw two games without any real evidence against Craver?
What about Joseph Creamer, New York Giants team physician, who was banned for bribing an umpire $2,500 to conspire against the Chicago Cubs during a playoff game in 1908?
What about Jack O'Connor and Harry Howell, manager and coach, of the St. Louis Browns, who were banned in 1910 for attempting to fix the outcome of the 1910 American League batting title for Nap Lajoie of the Cleveland Indians against Ty Cobb?
What about Richard Higham, the only umpire to be banned from baseball, for conspiring to help throw a Detroit Wolverines game?
What about Horace Fogel, Philadelphia Phillies owner, who was banned for simply implying the umpired favored the New York Giants against his team in 1912?
What about Joe Gedeon of the St. Louis Browns, who was banned in 1920 for allegedly conspiring with the gambles behind the Black Sox scandal?
What about Eugene Paulette who was banned for just associating with known gamblers in 1921?
What about Benny Kauff who was banned for selling stolen cars in 1920 even though charges were acquitted against him in courts of this country? Commissioner Landis said he was "no longer a fit companion for other ball players." Apparently neither were black men according to Landis.
What about Lee Magee who sued the Chicago Cubs for his 1920 salary after he was released before the season began and lost? Court testimony showed he was involved in throwing games and collecting on bets.
What about Hal Chase of the New York Giants who was banned in 1921 for consorting with gamblers?
What about Heinie Zimmerman of the New York Giants who was banned in 1921 for encouraging his teammates to fix games? Zimmerman is known for being involved in the rundown in the 1917 World Series against the Chicago White Sox, which allowed the winning run of the series to score.
What about Joe Harris of the Cleveland Indians, who was banned in 1920 for choosing to play for an independent team rather than the Indians? Commissioner Landis agreed to reinstatement due largely to Harris's service in World War I, where he suffered two broken legs, three broken ribs, and a fractured skull.
What about Phil Douglas of the New York Giants who told an acquaintance on the St. Louis Cardinals in a drunken letter that he planned to "jump" his club for the pennant stretch to spite manager John McGraw?
What about Jimmy O'Connell of the New York Giants who was banned in 1924 for offering Philadelphia Phillies shortstop Heini Sand $500 to throw a game between the two teams to help his gambler backers?
What about William B. Cox, Philadelphia Phillies owner, who was banned in 1943 for betting on his team's games? He and Horace Fogel, both owners of the Phillies at different times, were the only owners to be banned for life.
Ferguson Jenks was banned in 1980 for cocaine use, as was Steve Howe in 1992, but Ferguson was reinstated and is currently in the Hall of Fame as was Howe, retiring in 1996. Mickey Mantle and Willie Mays were banned from baseball after they were hired by a casino in Atlantic City to be greeters and autograph signers, but were reinstated in 1985. Imagine that.
Bud Selig reinstated George Steinbrenner after he was banned in 1990 for paying a private investigator $40,000 to "dig up dirt" on Yankees player Dave Winfield in order to discredit him.
What about these men, Bud? Do they get reinstated as well? Should their numbers be looked at for the Hall of Fame too?
Some merely talked to gamblers, some allegedly talked to gamblers, some complained about umpires, and one sent a drunken letter (might as well be a text message), and they are still banned.
From 1996 to 1998, Cincinnati Reds owner Marge Schott was banned from baseball for making racist statements critical of blacks and Jews and for make statements sympathetic to Adolf Hitler and the Nazi Party, yet, she was only banned for two years.
Everything about baseball, the All-Star Game, the MVP and Gold Glove awards, and most of all, the Hall of Fame, is a popularity contest and men are labelled forever.
Life, baseball included, is a high school cafeteria. We choose to believe what we want to believe no matter what logic tells us.
A racist commissioner is in the Hall of Fame, but Ron Santo can't get in and Jim Rice barely got in because players and the media didn't like them.
It is the reason Frank Thomas was only on five All-Star teams and will soon struggle to get into the Hall of Fame. It is the reason no one will even bring up Albert Belle's name in Hall of Fame conversations.
We choose who we want to like and go out of our way to damn the ones we don't like. You think if Barry Bonds was shot dead by one of his mistresses, we'd be writing odes and articles about how great he was as we did with Steve McNair?
In the case of Pete Rose, it would seem as though he was automatically damned because he was not liked as a player. Baseball found something wrong about him, ran with it, and completely overblew it.
However, Rose admitted to betting on his team while managing and playing. Although he claims to never having bet against his team, can we really believe him at this point?
I do not know what to think when it comes to Pete Rose. He was not liked as a player, which is a ridiculous reason to overlook one's performance, but then again he gambled on the team he was playing for and managing, which is one of the cardinal sins in sports.
Michael Jordan was a chronic gambler, but we never pursued him in that regard. Could it be because we liked him and wanted him to succeed, while not liking Pete Rose and hoping he'd fail?
I do know, however, if Bud Selig does reinstate Pete Rose, he better be prepared to look over all the cases of banishment and be prepared to answer some questions.
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