Sunday, November 1, 2009

My Hall of Fame

"I'm no role model," is a famous quote by Charles Barkley. Voted into the prestigious group of NBA Top 50 Players, the man firmly believed athletes should not being judged on their personal character. While this blog primarily focuses on the Baseball Hall of Fame (HoF), this man has the correct ideal of being an athlete as compared to a stereotypical picture of a role model. When being voted into any sports Hall of Fame you should be judged by your skill set and the personal achievements you obtained on the field. At first, I wanted to devote this blog to the career of Pete "Charlie Hustle" Rose and the lifetime long debate of his possible induction into the Hall of Fame. After reviewing possible options, I thought if I dove more into the process of inducting players into the hall and the background information of why they should be inducted, it would strengthen the blog into a different form. The Hall of Fame stands for the elite athletes, the best of the best who deserve their spot in this honorable home located in Cooperstown.

Lets take a look from the very beginning on the first class ever to be inducted into the Hall of Fame. This first class consisted of Ty Cobb, Babe Ruth, Honus Wagner, Christy Mathewson, and Walter Johnson. Even those who are not baseball buffs recognize a few of those names. Ty Cobb probably has the biggest impact on the discussion involving the HoF. Ty Cobb was known for "spikes up" meaning he would lift his feet up while sliding and "spike" the player covering the bag. Having played baseball the majority of my life, I know the importance of this historic technique with the exception of using extreme force. Cobb would take this a bit too far and practically tear the leg off the defending player. While this is one detail to look into, the personal character of Mr. Ty Cobb deserves to be noted. This man was publicly known for making racial remarks against blacks and even to go so far as using brute force. There are a few incidents that reported Cobb beating blacks and slapping them in the face. They would file civil law suits against Cobb winning more they lost, thus creating a bad name for him.

There is one more important aspect of Mr. Cobb's playing career in which to look and that is the relationship with the players and fans. Many opposing players hated the man partly due to his athletic ability and partly due to his personal decisions. This is where it gets interesting in dealing with the question of the HoF. I will dive more into Pete Rose in a later section but, Pete was kept out of the Hall for gambling and lying correct? Well, Cobb was accused of gambling on his own team in the year of 1926! This great player was forced to retire to keep these allegations as small as possible and later was to be reinstated the following season. You may be asking why did he get reinstated and Rose has not? Well, during the baseball timeline in 1926, a select few players held the majority of the talent and the league could not lose the popularity someone such as Ty Cobb brought to the game. Whether the attention be positive or negative, the media kept the game in a brighter spotlight. The only difference on the subject of Cobb v.s. Rose is the time period in which the gambling took place. During the era in which Rose played, the commissioner and other officials were trying to keep the game "clean". The crime committed is the same in the idea of gambling on your own sport. The main argument being that personal character should not keep you out of the HoF stands the same. Anyone who is a devote baseball fan could not argue that Ty Cobb deserves his spot in the hall over Pete Rose who does not even have one!

To prove the statement that character should not be judged in being inducted into the HoF, I looked at the official website Rule number 10 said that voters consider integrity, character and contributions to the game. This contradicts my argument on personal character not being reviewed in being elected into the hall of fame. It also sparks an even better argument on judging what is defined as bad character. Ty Cobb received 222 total votes out of 226 to be voted into the HoF, which is more than any other player in history. If the examples of character above were not enough to keep him out of the HoF, then what can be? Pete Rose did gamble. Records were found and allegations proven. To his credit, he bet on his team to win every single night. Looking from a different perspective, when your team wins 90+ games a season why the hell not? I am not sitting here arguing that what Pete Rose did was correct in any shape or form. After reading the rules for the Hall of Fame, there is no such rule giving special treatment to any player for any reason.

The Baseball Hall of Fame is supposed to stand for the elite players that shaped the game to its greatest form. The number 4,256 is more than just a simple number. Rose has been banned from baseball and not permitted to be on the voting ballot for the HoF. This also bans him from the Reds HoF and the right to participate in any baseball activity. You may be saying that you saw Mr. Rose playing in the celebrity softball game and you would be correct. This was made possible because Bud Selig had to give permission for this simple game. This to me seems absolutely crazy for the hit king, the man who has 4,256 baseballs on a wall, has more offensive records than any other player, and played an all star game like it was his last to play a damn softball game. This may be a stretch to compare the Baseball HoF to the Declaration of Independence but every man is created equal. Going back to the Ty Cobb story, how is that man who gambled on his sport; was racist and cruel; and who beat people get inducted into the HoF? This makes the hall almost a joke. The voters who compose the panel are all writers who have spent a minimum ten years in the game. They mainly agree that Rose should be kept on the banned list, yet numerous players who are under accusation for steroids and other performance enhancing drugs are on the ballot each and every year. That same rule you read on character and integrity is violated by taking drugs to increase your physical play.

The Baseball Hall of Fame wants to keep their image of being a prestigious place where only the legendary players reach their final destiny. They obviously have to pick on a few players to deem unworthy to provide examples on why they have authority. The rule book states that record, ability, integrity, sportsmanship, character and contribution to the game impacts the chance the player will be eligible to be in the HoF. The Mitchell Report reported over 80 players names that have either been retired or are currently playing. A few of these players have a decent career today and have multiple years to increase their resume. Although these players have VIOLATED integrity, sportsmanship, character and have had a NEGATIVE contribution to the game, they slide by unnoticed. The counter argument for this example is Mark McGwire. He has been on the HoF ballot for a few years and has been denied access to the hall. You can say this opposes my argument on why the HoF needs a different rule book or strict enforcement but this is only one example on a weak system. Steroids have made news in the sports world only recently but have been in the sports world for many years. Steroids were created in the 1930's and have been used for different functions for humans. Injuries and lack of needed hormones are two examples on steroids being used since the beginning. Whether these players took the steroids for good or bad, that violates the rules in becoming a hall of famer.

All in all, the Hall of Fame needs to do a few things different. One, they need to fix the rule book to make the rules specify what is a violation of character or take the personal decisions out of the voting. Two, they need to place the rules on past, former, and future players. The dream for each player to reach the Hall of Fame is only reached by a select few. Baseball is even commonly known as the "Game of Shadows" which is the book title by authors Mark Fainaru-Wada and Lance Williams. The game has taken a dramatic turn in character, which is one of the rules the Hall of Fame states to be a factor of importance. Whether or not Mark McGwire is in the Hall of Fame or not, he still has his name on the ballot for a possible induction. Players like McGwire and Bonds are big time names in which the steroid scandal has delved into currently. Pete Rose did gamble on his team to win and did lie to the media for many years. This is not hidden from the baseball world nor does he approve of his actions. The HoF needs to take the personal character out of the factors for this reason. The greatest batter in the history of the game is kept out of his rightful home because of a decision off the field. As Charles Barkley said, he was no role model. His actions on the court did not relate to any off the court decisions he made. The fact is, he played the game to win and wanted to show why he was the best. The same can be said for Pete Rose. The Hall of Fame means nothing when players commit similar crimes to what Pete did and they have the privilege on being in the Hall of Fame when other players don't.


  1. I definitely agree with you that Pete Rose should be in the Hall of Fame. It is proven that he bet on his team to win every time, so to me it is not as big as everybody makes it. Yes, he did deserve to be banned from the game for a while but he does not deserve to be banned for live. I do think that a person should have good character in order to get in the Hall of Fame though. You have to realize that in 1926, a lot of things that we look down on were norms the back then. I also think that Pete Rose had good character, he just made mistakes. You do bring up a good point about it all and you didn't go about this the way that I expected, which made it better. It wasn't just a Pete Rose love fest, you brought up interesting facts. LETS START IT NOW!...GET PETE ROSE IN THE HALL OF FAME CAMPAIGN!...I'M IN!!!!!!

  2. Bringing up the point on the norms being different back in 1926 is a valid point. Racism was more accepted back then to a certain degree and citizens almost ignored the situation at hand. However, that did not make things right to allow a man to do this. Good character is a bonus to any human being...especially an athlete. Pete Rose deserved his punishment. Just not the severe lifetime ban. As for the campaign, I'm in as well!