It must be that time of the year again. Hall-of-Fame ballots are out, and he gets brought up again. You know him, he wrote a book about his controversy, sold baseballs on E-Bay, and did just about everything but publicly apologize about betting on baseball. Of course I’m talking about Pete Rose. Every year, about this time, the debate begins. If we are sick of Rose, then why bring him up? The answer is quite simple. It’s not the same debate this year. This year, the debate brings in Mark McGwire. If we allow McGwire into the hall, do we also allow Pete Rose? Both cheated in baseball, according to their detractors. On the outside, the two situations are different. Rose bet on baseball and McGwire allegedly used steroids. While we can’t prove McGwire used illegal substances, we do have a confession from Rose saying they he did bet on baseball.
Here’s the main point that is not being brought up, likeability. We don’t like Pete Rose, because he comes off as arrogant, and self-centered. Rose played hard. Rose effectively injured someone’s career in an All-Star game. Rose went to prison for tax evasion. Why should we like Rose? We like Mark McGwire because he hugged Sammy Sosa after his sixty-second home run. We like McGwire because he, along with Sosa, "saved baseball" after the 1994 strike.
We also don’t like Jose Canseco. He, like Rose, went to jail a few times. Like Rose, he has a hard time apologizing. Like Rose, he is self-centered. So, sure, we don’t want to believe Canseco when he says that he locked himself in a bathroom stall with McGwire and shot each other in the buttocks with steroids. It even sounds like fiction. After all, what straight male would lock himself in a bathroom stall with another guy?
Which is why, after two years, we still don’t buy Pete Rose’s apology. We’re told not to like Pete Rose. Yet, this is the hypocrisy of the human race. Are we not taught forgiveness? Yes, but we’re pressured into only forgiving those we like and choose to forgive. We never forgive the schoolyard bully for beating us up, but when a friend does it, we have no problems.
Could you call people who vote in McGwire and Barry Bonds, but keep Pete Rose out hypocrites? Unquestionably. You just have to remember, just like everything else in life, the schoolyard mentality will eventually rule. Which is why, six years from now, when Barry Bonds comes up for the Hall, we’ll be right back here, with the same debate, while Mark McGwire sits forever in Cooperstown, and Pete Rose holds his pity party just a block down.