This weekend, when the game of baseball placed a handful of its best into the great Hall of Fame in Cooperstown, New York, an issue came up as it does every year around this time.
Should Pete Rose get a shot at the Hall?
What was different this time, though, was the response. Even Hank Aaron, the Home Run King, made public his vote in favor of Rose getting his chance. Suddenly, there appears to be a groundswell of support for Rose to get a chance to be included in the Hall.
Let me be very clear about a few things:
Pete Rose is a liar.
Pete Rose is a cheat.
Pete Rose is a dishonest, gambling, manipulating, selfish individual.
Pete Rose should be on the ballot for the Hall of Fame.
How on earth can someone list off that group of ugly words about someone and then say he should be eligible for the games highest honor? Am I crazy?
Not at all.
There are many things that Rose qualifies as in this world, many of which I pray my son never becomes. But there are others, like being the all-time leader in career hits, that are as unbelievable as his off-the-field disgraces.
But for all the "intestinal fortitude" Charlie Hustle showed on the field, my case for him to be on the Hall of Fame ballot has as much to do with players not named Rose as it does the all-time hit king.
The Baseball Writers of America have started to take a stance on the Steroid Era by keeping Mark McGwire out of Cooperstown. In doing so, they have opened Pandora's box to debates that might never come to a civil conclusion. But they have taken their stance, and been consistent in it.
In the next five or six years, three bigger names will come up for Hall of Fame consideration: Barry Bonds, Roger Clemens and Sammy Sosa. This is where the writers will be put to the test.
All three were among the elite professional athletes of the 1990s, and have established career numbers that force them to be among the discussion of the greatest players in the history of America's past time.
However, all three have also been linked to performance enhancing drugs, and have had questionable relations with teammates and the media. Though Sosa's career will be remembered as being more of the fun-loving fan favorite, the end of his career in Chicago definitely put a cloud over his glorious run as a Cub.
These three players are precisely why Commissioner Bud Selig should put Rose on the ballot for the writers.
McGwire might be the first alleged steroid user to be excluded, and Rafael Palmeiro will soon follow. But neither of these players have a resume that measures up with Bonds, Sosa, and McGwire.
The history of the game, and its hallowed record books, will forever include the names Clemens, Bonds and Sosa.
And in just a few short years, the writers will have the privilege, and responsibility, to decide how the game will remember three of the game's greatest players. Their numbers leave little question about their place in the Hall; it's their character, and how those numbers were achieved, that makes their candidacy a question.
As it should be with Rose.
For the last 20 years, the final word on Rose's baseball life has been the commissioner's office. He was everything the game stood for, and then everything it stood against, all in one person.
Now, the same role will be played by the Writer's Association for three players who, in regards to living players, have very few they would considered their statistical peers other than Rose.
I would propose that, if Rose came clean to Selig and admitted that he's every bit the piece of hot garbage we have been led to believe he is, then he should be placed on the ballot with everyone else.
Then the writers would have an even greater privilege.
This would place the Rose question on the desks of people the game respects enough to grant the ability to bestow it's highest honor.
Before the Steroid Era, Rose was the biggest black mark on the game since the Black Sox (who should also be back on the ballot). Now he's got some very exclusive company in the "Cheater" category, and should be placed in their category on the ballot.
Let the same people that have kept McGwire out, and who will determine the fates of Bonds, Clemens and Sosa get their chance to debate and put Rose in his proper place... wherever that might be.