But there are two who are not in, and should be. They shouldn't almost
be in, they are the very definition of 'Hall of Fame Player.'
I stand (sit, well, lounge is more accurate) here and state, beyond a shadow of a doubt, that I believe both Shoeless Joe Jackson and Pete Rose deserve to be in the hall. Shoeless Joe's case is ridiculous, he hit .340+ in the World Series he's accused of conspiring to fix.
Rose is certainly touchier, and believe me, as somebody who's met the man, I've got no particular affinity for the jackass. But his sins (so far as all evidence suggests) were committed as a manager, not a player.
In the same way we know Jose wasn't going anyway, we're certainly not electing Rose to the Hall for his managerial prowess, we're electing him because he has more hits than anyone else who played the game, ever.
How can the Hall of Fame claim to have the all time greatest ballplayers in history and not have the all time hits king?
A sample of the conversation my imaginary son and I might have if he...you know...existed, and we went to Cooperstown in about 10 years.
ME: That's Cal Ripken and Lou Gerhig. Cal played more consecutive games than anyone in history, and he did it basically to break Gerhig's record, even though it affected Cal's performance on the field, and he really did need a day off now and again, he pretty much single handedly saved baseball after the strike.
MY KID: Oooooo.
ME: That's Barry Bonds, even though he shot enough steroids to bring Secretariat back to life he's got more home runs than anyone in the history of the game. No one likes him, but he single handedly kept at least 20 sports talk radio stations in business during the first three to five years of the new millennium.
MY KID: Is he the guy who you always scream 'Jackass!' at when he's on TV?
ME: Yeah, but don't tell your mother you know that word.
MY KID: Who's that?
ME: That's Babe Ruth, he hit 712 homers, which was the most ever before Henry Aaron hit 755 like 40 years later, and he nailed three times that many prostitutes, was a raging alcoholic who liked to beat women and was arrested an average of twice a season during his career. And over there is Ty Cobb who liked to brag about the fact that he killed a man and might have been the most racist man ever to walk the earth. He was selfish, ignorant, a rapist and just generally unpleasant. He has the second most hits in history.
MY KID: Who has the most hits?
ME: Oh, just some guy.
MY KID: That's dumb.
See, my kid's already smarter than Major League Baseball. C'mon Bud! You've got the perfect opportunity right now. In the next five to seven years you're going to induct Mark McGwire and Barry Bonds. You're going to put Roger Clemens in the Hall. You're going to start getting more and more memorabilia, and have more and more references (remember, Giambi isn't going to make the hall, but his name will be all over it because of the all the World Series he's appeared in), to people who, proof or no proof, will always be considered cheaters. Sammy Sosa? If he hits 700 homers (four slightly below average years will do that) you're going to have to put him in.
When you have the McGwire exhibit you're going to have those 10 foot tall pictures of him up, better make sure you keep it to one era, because if you have a 'Rookie Smash' pic of McGwire next to a '70!' pic people are going to need captions to know its the same guy. Check the year by year pics of Barry Bonds, it looks like a Darwinian photo of the evolution from man to whatever is next on the chain.
The argument, of course, will always be "There is no proof of Bonds' or Sosa's or McGwire's cheating." But is there in fact any proof of Rose's or Jackson's? I'm willing to bet if Bud launched an investigation like the one former Commissioner Fay Vincent unleashed on Rose there would be, at least as much proof as there is against Rose. Instead of an investigation, there has been a 'see no evil, hear no evil, speak no evil' attitude taken toward the 'roids. Where was that kind of consideration to Rose's gambling? How is Pete different than Barry? How was Shoeless Joe, a small town kid with what would generously be called a fourth grade education, different than Cobb or Ruth?
The whole reason steroids are a problem is because they don't allow a level playing field. They give a player an unfair advantage. How hypocritical can baseball be? Apparently we have our answer, because the playing field has never been level. It has gone from Ruth's philandering and Cobb's rage to Sammy's cork and Barry's needles. Somewhere in between Shoeless Joe and Pete Rose's invitations to the club got lost in the mail, and so did baseball's reputation.
Next to these guys, Rose's betting slips and...whateverthehell you think Shoeless Joe did are nothing. In fact, maybe those two will be viewed as the Godfathers of what baseball has become. They deserve to be in far more than the chemically aided inductees you have coming Bud, so get it done.