Thursday, December 20, 2012

Barry Bonds vs Pete Rose for Cooperstown

2003 Bowman
Well it is that time of year. No, I am not talking about the jolly old fellow in the red suit. I am referring to Hall of Fame voting. This year has been debated even more than usual because of the historic class of first time eligible players and their involvement or alleged involvement in Performance Enhancing Drugs(PEDs). Barry Bonds, Roger Clemens, Sammy Sosa all have been linked to PEDs and put up some historic numbers in their careers.

In addition to this debate, there is the yearly discussion among fans that if Pete Rose(and Shoeless Joe Jackson) should be in inducted in the hall.  Many of these fans like to group Bonds and others with Rose.  In my eyes you can't compare the two groups.  Rose is much worse in my opinion.  Here is why....

For the sake of my argument, I will use Bonds as the representative for all of the PED guys and Rose for the gamblers for easy discussion. I also hear the argument that PEDs were not illegal during the time period of Bonds and gambling has always been. I don't buy this, because steroids has always been illegal in society and Commissioner Fay Vincent wrote a memo to players stating that steroids and other PEDs are outlawed in 1991. So both are transgessions and the players knew it.
Bonds knew what he did was wrong and hurt the integrity of the game, but his intentions were not entirely wrong.  Bonds still wanted to win, get the hits, save the runs in the field and win the World Series as any other player. He played just as hard as did if he weren't on PEDs. He didn't hustle any less or try not get on base any less at any point in his career.  For Bonds and others, PEDs were either used to recover from injuries quicker, prevent long slumps, have a longer career or just keeping up with the Joneses,  Of course and the end of it all, rack up bigger numbers and get paid more. Bonds felt in order to maintain his edge in the game while competing with other users, he had to also. Unfortunately for everyone involved, Bonds went down the wrong path with this decision and forever tainted his legacy.
1968 Topps

For Rose, even though as a player he became one of the greatest of all time, his time as a player/manager tarnished the game and got him ultimately banned for life. By being a gambler while managing a club, Rose committed the ultimate crime of sports-betting on the game you are involved in. Having a wager on a game for solely personal financial reasons, a person can change the his/her effort in order to win the bet. Even though in all likelyhood, Rose never bet on his beloved Cincinnati Reds to lose a game, he still could alter the outcome of the game. He could have left a pitcher in too long or set up any other bad matchup for his hitter or pitcher in order to cover his wager. On the player side, Shoeless Joe for example, could have not hustled in the gap for a liner or threw to the wrong cut off man in order to allow the opposing players advance on the bases.  He could have altered the outcome of the game while showing decent stats as Shoeless Joe did in the 1919 World Series.  Also, I hear the argument to separate Rose as a player from his days as a  manager. I am sorry, it is the same person doing both. You have to take the good with the bad. 

The difference between PEDs and gambling comes down to amount of effort used and the desire to help the team win. PED player still uses maximum effort, even though using an unfair advantage, to succeed on the field while a gambler used just enough to cover his/her personal bet and end up losing trust from teammates, managers, fans, etc. Once a sport is no longer trusted and has no credibility among fans, they will go elsewhere for their entertainment.
You may think after reading this I will be okay letting in Bonds et al in the Hall of Fame.That is not true. PEDs is still dishonest and hurts the intregrity of the game and should not be ignored. But I think what Rose did was on a different level. So if and when a player enters the Hall of Fame who was helped illegally thru performance enhancing drugs, the Pete Rose backers should not use it as an argument for their case.

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