Question: should Turkey allow the United States to base military troops within their territory even though 95 percent of Turks oppose doing so? If, like most people with a healthy respect for democracy, you answered no, then please tell Bud Selig to put Pete Rose back in baseball.

The fact is, Rose gets an ovation every time Bud invites him to an all-star game or World Series game. People forgive mistakes, and they remember Charlie Hustle dishing it out every single night. In a 1999 Associated Press poll, fans voted two to one for Rose’s reinstatement. A CNN/SI poll found the same. At the last Hall of Fame induction ceremony, fans showed up to scream “What about Pete?” when the emcee introduced Selig.

You think respected ballplayers care if Rose gambled on baseball? Here’s what Mike Schmidt has to say on the subject: “I believe that the person who has the most base hits in baseball history should be in the Hall of Fame. The Hall should not be for outstanding citizens but for outstanding ballplayers. Great ballplayers of the past were selected because of their ability in the game and Pete should be judged on his baseball accomplishments. There should be no controversy then in judging his credentials. Pete should be in the Hall of Fame.” Well said, Mr. Schmidt. ost of your peers agree.

Before going any further, let’s review the facts. Pete Rose gambled on baseball. A lot. He gambled on his own team, the Cincinnati Reds, and probably bet on them to lose as well. This is morally repugnant. He also holds, and will probably hold for quite a while, baseball’s all time hits record at 4,192. (He has also had more at bats than any other player in history, but hey, that’s what happens when you play 24 seasons in the bigs.) This is pretty amazing. Moreover, and most importantly, people remember Pete Rose as a guy who gave his all on the field, gambling or no gambling, end of story.

The people want Rose in the Hall. But two groups can’t seem to let Rose’s sins slip away: sportswriters and baseball’s administration, headed by Bud “no, ties aren’t like kissing your sister” Selig.

The sportswriters, arguably, are the worse of the two groups. Every time Hall of Fame voting rolls around, it seems that 80 percent of what I read and hear is “Pete Rose gambled on baseball. That violates moral principles. Whine.” Sure, Rose’s gambling sullied the game. So did Babe Ruth’s sleeping with prostitutes. So did Ty Cobb’s horrible racism. So did Leo Durocher’s gambling (that’s right, a gambler in the Hall of Fame). No pro athlete, or normal human being, save perhaps John Stockton, has ever been completely clean. Some are cleaner than others. Sportswriters, for the most part, aren’t clean, but they enjoy whining about how everyone else isn’t. Trust me, I know. Commissioner Selig should refrain from listening to their dribble, as it isn’t representative of baseball fans at large.

Bud, on the other hand, has a reasonable problem. Most people want Rose reinstated so that he can join his peers in Cooperstown. However, a Rose reinstatement would also mean that he could work in baseball again. While Selig has implied that putting Pete in the Hall may happen someday, the thought of Rose strolling around a major league dugout as a manager is somewhat horrifying. There are enough people out there that still hate ol’ Charlie Hustle that baseball might lose some revenue should he sign on with a major league team. Some might give up their season tickets. Others would protest outside stadiums where Rose’s team was playing. Basically, Pete Rose in the Hall is a benign concession to one of the greatest to ever play the game. Pete Rose fully reinstated is a potential black eye on the game, especially if he were to start gambling again. Let’s not forget, it is a pathological addiction.

The logical compromise, of course, would be to remove the rule barring suspended players from entering the Hall of Fame. Rose is in no position to complain, and Bud avoids any potential ugliness. ore importantly, the achievements of the all-time hits leader would finally be properly recognized. That’s what most baseball fans really want, and that’s what most baseball fans believe is right and fair.

So, to all of you out there shaking your heads, muttering to yourself that I’m a moron, turn to the guy sitting next to you, and tell him he’s a moron, too. The odds are he wants Pete Rose in the Hall of Fame.

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