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Diaz: Pete Rose Hall of Fame ban should stick forevermore

George Diaz Orlando Sentinel

The apologists are lining up for Pete Rose again.

Good people. Great people. Iconic names like Cal Ripken Jr., who recently said, “To me, he’s a Hall of Fame player with the most hits. He should be celebrated in the Hall of Fame.”

Respectfully so, I suggest there is a chink in the Iron Man’s armor.

Pete Rose does not belong in baseball’s hallowed halls.

Never.

He bet on the game. Period. End of discussion.

It is the ultimate sin, far worse than the beefed-up steroid junkies like Bash Brothers Mark McGwire and Jose Canseco, Barry Bonds (wink-wink), and all the others.

At least they were juicing up to win games, looking for a competitive edge to allow them to skate past their prime. Betting on baseball is a far different beast. It doesn’t matter if you bet on your team to “win.”

“Pete committed the capital crime of baseball,” John Dowd, MLB special investigator in the Rose betting scandal, told the Cincinnati Enquirer last week.

Amen.

It’s significant to note that Dowd and his two investigators dug up evidence that Rose did bet against the Reds, “although that evidence didn’t reach the standard to include in our report.”

Of course, it would be idiotic to rail against Rose by looking only at his resume as a player. The greatest hitter of all time, and he has the records to prove it.

But the problem here is that Rose is the rogue of rogues among baseball’s miscreants. He never savagely beat a handicapped person like Ty Cobb did. He wasn’t a member of the Ku Klux Klan like Tris Speaker, according to several research reports.

But old Charlie Hustle played the ultimate con game on baseball, and there will be consequences.

“We always regret things we do and try to fix it, but some things remain broken,” said Tommy Gioiosa, Pete’s ex-wingman during the glory days. Gioiosa took the fall – big time – for Rose, going to prison between 1990 and 1992 for illegally cashing a race ticket that belonged to Rose.

Gioiosa never ratted out on Rose. “I did my best to protect Pete through everything,” Gioiosa said.

The problem is that Rose has never been able to save himself from his own little demons. Much like Lance Armstrong, he came clean only under duress.

These days, he’s hoping to curry favor from new baseball commissioner Rob Manfred, who recently said the application for Rose’s reinstatement will be given a “full and fresh look.”

That’s a different deal from the Hall of Fame, subject to forces outside the commissioner’s power.

Manfred should use his leverage to remove the shackles from Rose and let him back into the baseball family. Pete has twisted in the wind and suffered enough. As long as Rose is on the banned list, he is not eligible for the Hall of Fame.

But even if Rose is reinstated, the Hall’s doors should remain shut. It’s no place for baseball’s ultimate sinner.

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