By: Edward Simek
In recent months baseball has seen some changes come about with the arrival of Commissioner Robert Manfred. In his short tenure, some changes have been implemented that have started murmurs in the game that haven’t been around since the days of Bart Giamatti, and even Judge Kennesaw Mountain Landis. The adding of a time clock at the plate for pitchers to speed up the game has brought a new wind of change to the game that has fans starting to wonder what is next. Manfred’s ruling on the Pete Rose issue underscores realization and separation of the game of baseball from the Hall of Fame. A lot of fans were surprised to learn that there was a separation. Also, Manfred’s action calls into question who of the so-called Steroid Era players entering eligibility shall be considered for the Hall?
For years fans have argued that a player who is banned from baseball is surely not eligible to get into the Hall of Fame. So what happens to Pete Rose?
Mr. Baseball himself with over 3500 games played, 4200 hits and 198 stolen bases. His name forever entered into baseball lore. As a player, Rose has the offensive statistics to be a member of the Hall of Fame.
The Hall of Fame election rules state the following; “voting shall be based upon the player’s record, playing ability, integrity, sportsmanship, character, and contributions to the team(s) on which the player played.”
Integrity and character. Some people will argue that Ty Cobb was a difficult character to tolerate. Even Dizzy Dean was known as being a difficult player for fans to love.
However, it is not this “niceness” that The Hall is talking about when it comes to character. Baseball players chew tobacco in the dugout and some players are less than approachable when it comes to the game (*ahem* Joe Kelly). The Hall of Fame faces a possible change in landscape where its inductee’s character is at question before their playing ability. Pete Rose’s scandal and recent denial for reinstatement by baseball raises questions about what could happen to the hall in the coming years.
In the last 30 years baseball has seen an evolution of the game, reports on juicing, and players who have altered their performances to get their names in the history books. Outlined in some of these reports are names like Jose Canseco, Roger Clemens, Sammy Sosa, and some recent players who still enjoy the game like Alex Rodriguez, Barry Bonds, and even Mark McGwire. All players who allegedly took steroids, or a human growth hormone that altered their chemical and physical makeup to perform on a different level.
Mark McGwire humbled himself by admitting to the Associated Press that he took the drug in 2010, and earned some respect back from the fans while still carrying a disputed record. Barry Bonds has the same dispute in regards to his single-season home run record. Instead of arguing for his humility, like Mark McGwire who took his lumps and admitted his guilt, Barry fought back, made a voice for himself and caused baseball more of a black eye during a time when they needed more grace than shame.
Recently Barry Bonds and Roger Clemens are being discussed as candidate for the Hall of Fame, both of them were top performers in baseball and allegedly took steroids to enhance their performance, yet their character is in question. Pete Rose did not alter his performance and on his best day, he (Rose) was on the same level as some of these players who allegedly took steroids. Where does the Hall of Fame draw the line? Pete Rose has a questionable character in front of the media, but was a great ball player. Roger Clemens and Barry Bonds allegedly took steroids, altered their performance, and have questionable characters in front of the media. They are both (Clemens and Bonds) still considered for the Hall of Fame.
Should these players if inducted have an inscription that outlines their character flaws or scandals below their baseball achievements? Should they be voted in at all in regards to any character issues? Some discussions have arisen that if Pete Rose were inducted or allowed on the ballot that it should be under the understanding that his enshrinement will include a line in regards to his ban from baseball. Is this the image of baseball fans want to remember or memorialize in the Hall of Fame?
Of course fans will see busts for Scott Rolen (possibly), John Smoltz, and even Derek Jeter. There will be some notable names who did not alter themselves for the game. There will be some heroes of the nineties generation that would be worth seeing. Is that enough to see? What do fans want, some “good” guys who played the game, or some questionable characters who tore up the record books? What happens though to the quality of the hall when you allow a Canseco, McGwire, or Sosa?
Should their busts be enshrined one day only to have an inscription that reads, “Altered their performance with drugs, denied the charges by MLB, came back and still proved their worthiness as coaches?”
The next 15 to 20 years will be full of these arguments instead of arguments that present statistics, player ability and performance.
Alex Rodriguez came out in 2015 and showed no signs of slowing. He earned his paycheck, but will 2015 and the following years be sufficient to erase the black eye of his alleged steroid use? Will Mark McGwire or Barry Bonds’ coaching careers do the same? Adding fuel to the fire, should they be inducted for their stigma in baseball with the aforementioned inscription, while Don Mattingly still sits on the outside, looking in for his place in a hall that could potentially be full of shame?
Mc Isaac, Jim. 2010. Getty Images . Web. 5 Jan. 2016.<http://sports.cbslocal.com/2014/11/26/bernstein-reconciling-baseballs-hall-of-fame/>.