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My case for Pete Rose ...

Twenty years after he agreed to a life-time ban from baseball, the topic of Pete Rose in the Hall of Fame is making its rounds on the Worldwide Leader, radio, blogs and Twitter. Everyone has an opinion, and usually they are stark in contrast.

I tried to make the argument the other day that, because Rose's status as a Hall of Famer had drummed up so much interest, it only strengthened his case to be inducted. After all, Joe Baseballplayer who batted .250 and maybe used performance-enhancing drugs isn't getting any airtime in his bid to be enshrined amongst baseball's greats. Well, Joe Baseballplayer isn't famous, and that's kinda the point of the Hall of Fame. It's not the Hall of Very Good, right?

And boy is Rose famous ... and he was a helluva ballplayer too. No one played in more games, collected more hits, or set as many records as a switch hitter. He owns the second-longest hitting streak in baseball history (44), which is also the NL record. He has the most seasons of 200 or more hits, the most runs scored by a switch hitter, three World Series rings, an MVP, a Rookie of the Year award, 17 All-Star selections and two Gold Gloves.

Oh, and he also won the Roberto Clemente Award given to an MLB player who "best exemplifies the game of baseball, sportsmanship, community involvement and the individual's contribution to his team", as voted on by baseball fans and members of the media.

When I made my argument the other day, a good friend of mine, Rob, quickly opposed my support as Rose as a Hall of Famer. After all, he cheated the game. You see, Rob and I are baseball purists ... we favor the National League, abhor the designated hitter, and would take a day baseball game with bleacher seats and beer over any other option. Rob chooses to connect Rose's legacy -- and place in the Hall -- to his actions as a manager. I simply choose to separate Rose challenging the integrity of the game as a manager and his accomplishments as a player.

When I take my son or daughter to the Hall in a decade or so, I want to show them the greatest players that played the game, regardless if they are bastards like Ty Cobb, drug users like Mark McGwire, or a gambling-addicted manager that Major League Baseball itself identified as one of the top 25 players of all-time.

I hope my kid never develops Rose's personal problems, and I hope my kid shows more respect for the game than Rose did in his later years as a manager, but I also hope my kid plays the game exactly like Rose.

Chuckie Hustle sure would be catchy.

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