A Case For the Hit King
As we close in on Easter weekend, we have a full plate of not only spiral ham and candied yams, but also a big helping of sports. Both the Caps and Wizards are playing their “second season”, with the Capitals off to a 1-0 lead in their best-of seven series with Toronto. Will this finally be the year the Caps give us that parade down Constitution Avenue? Time will tell. And, seeing the Wizards in the playoffs takes me back to the late 70’s with The “Big E” Elvin Hayes, Wes Unseld, and a great supporting cast of Bullets leading DC to an NBA title. Not sure anyone can beat the Warriors, but the East appears to be wide-open.
On the baseball front, The Nationals have gotten off to a 5-4 start as of this writing. The Nats have played well offensively, but have been sloppy in the field, and everyone who’s been called in from the bullpen seemingly has a gas can. However, it’s a long season, and it’s hard to lose the pennant in April.
Over at Shenandoah University, the search continues for a new men’s basketball coach, and SU baseball is 26-2 and ranked number one in the nation in both major D-3 polls. Let’s hope a trip to Appleton is in their near-future.
OK, on to today’s headline topic. Today (April 14th) is the 76th birthday of baseball’s “Hit King” Pete Rose. His banishment from the Baseball Hall of Fame is well-documented. While a player and manager, Rose bet on baseball games. Betting is a “no-no” in baseball, which was almost ruined by the infamous Black Sox Scandal of 1919.
I grew up, as so many did, admiring and emulating the style of Pete Rose. He was nicknamed “Charley Hustle” because he played every game like it was the seventh game of the World Series (google his collision with Ray Fosse in an All-Star Game!). He helped both the famous Big Red Machine and the Phillies to titles. He has been honored by both of those teams, and is a 2017 Phillies Wall of Fame inductee.
Pete Rose belongs in the Baseball Hall of Fame.
My argument is simply his body of work: The all-time MLB leader in hits, games played, at-bats, 3 World Series rings, 3 batting titles, one MVP award, 2 Gold Gloves, and 17 All-Star appearances, and a 44-game hitting streak. None of these accomplishments happened with the help of steroids or PED’s of any kind, as far as anyone knows.
The Baseball Hall of Fame is just that. It’s not “The Baseball Hall of Morality”. One can look at the list of inductees and find some of the most unsavory characters in the sport. Ty Cobb was a racist, Babe Ruth’s escapades have been written about ad infinitum, many of the game’s greats used “greenies” (amphetamines) that were dispensed freely, and Jim Bouton’s book “Ball Four” exposed Mickey Mantle and others.
The hypocrisy of the baseball writers is almost laughable. The same writers who cheered on Barry Bonds and Sammy Sosa in the so-called “steroid era” as they were hitting home run after home run are the same ones who took a high-and-mighty stance against performance enhancing drugs.
I am not an advocate for betting. But we live in a society where we simultaneously frown on sports betting, yet put out injury and weather reports for the benefit of gamblers. Betting did not affect Pete Rose’s ability to hit a 90-plus MPH fastball. Rose had an unparalleled passion for the game, was made to play baseball, and has a body of work that is unequaled.
It’s time to forgive Pete Rose and put him in the Hall where he belongs.
Happy 76, Charley Hustle…and as always, GO HORNETS! Have a great Easter weekend.