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A Rose of a Different Color

December 18, 2010 - Al Stephenson
I was walking towards an escalator in the Dolphin Resort at baseball's 2010 Winter Meetings when a nice young lady handed me what appeared to be a business card. On the card was a chance to win a free meal and that will always get my attention. I could receive a meal at Shula's Steakhouse right on the premises - if selected of course. All I had to do to have a chance to win was answer the poll question on the card.

The question read: should Pete Rose be in the Hall of Fame? The possible answers were yes, no and undecided. Just text your response to a phone number and a mouth watering entree could be yours, free gratis. I did not respond to the poll for several reasons, though I kept the card. I am using it for a bookmark while I read Secretariat. Does that mean I have no opinion or am undecided? Yeah right - me with on opinion! Let me explain my thoughts on the matter.

I chose not to respond for because 1) my chances of winning were not that great, 2) if I won I had nothing to wear to this fancy restaurant, and 3) I thought the question was inappropriate. What you ask? Well look at the question again. Should Pete Rose be in the Hall of Fame? First let me say that no one is undecided on this matter. The problem with the question is that both yes and no should be marked. Again you are asking "What????"

Pete Rose is the all time hits leader in major league baseball history. For that accomplishment alone he belongs in the Hall of Fame. So the answer is yes, right? Of course and the answer is also no. Because Pete Rose is banned from baseball for life, he is not eligible for election to the Hall of Fame. He certainly doesn't belong if he is not eligible. Here is a better question. Should Pete Rose's lifetime ban be lifted?

People who are sentenced to life in prison do not always spend the rest of their years there. The term is parole. Is it time we paroled Pete Rose? I'll let you decide, but as always I will give you my insight as well.

Pete Rose bet on baseball, though it took him a long time to admit it. Every person connected to the game is warned again and again against betting. Betting on the game attacks the integrity of the game and Pete knew it. Then again when you get addicted to gambling and the debts run deep, doing whatever you have to do to get out of trouble seems palpable at the time. We may never know what kind of pressure he was under to risk being banned from the game he truly loved. But gamble on baseball he did, and the punishment was swift and severe.

Has Pete Rose suffered enough? Have others both before and after Rose breached the integrity of the game by using spitballs, doctoring bats and loading up with steroids? Is it time the lifetime ban was lifted?

Again it is your decision, though I will not offer a free dinner if you make your feelings known. However I will say that the view from my seat suggests that Pete Rose has suffered enough. He has paid the price for his transgression. Lift the ban and let the voters decide if he should be elected.

It's time.


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