Rose-y future?

Sideline Scholars

Was Janet Jackson's, umm, "titillating" mistake at halftime of the Super Bowl an accident? Of course not. Her new CD comes out next week and she wanted some press, which is similar to what Pete Rose did last month. With his book days away from release, he suddenly decided to wipe his slate clean and admit to his years of gambling while he managed the Cincinnati Reds.

This may not be the real surprise, though. The shocking part of this story is that Pete Rose is still fighting for entrance into the Hall of Fame. I'm going to go out on a limb, and dare I say, BET, that if Rose had never been accused of gambling on baseball, he'd have his own bust in Cooperstown.

The fact that arguably the greatest hitter is still not in the shrine of baseball immortality is a disgrace. Ty Cobb, who is accused of being a murderer, resides there. Cobb died over 40 years ago. In today's market economy, deadbeat athletes write memoirs and cash in on their previous misfortunes. Surely, the truth surrounding Cobb would have come out by now. Yet he's in Cooperstown.

How about Roger Clemens? He's one of the most respected pitchers in history. Along with Nolan Ryan, the two fireballers are arguably 1-2 on baseball's all-time staff. However, you'd be hard-pressed to find two nastier players than Clemens and Ryan. Both have a history of headhunting and working the inside of the plate. Batters fear for their lives when they step in against the Rocket or take a ride on the Ryan Express.

Rose never caused anyone to fear for his lives. Why are Clemens and Ryan complimented and referred to as "competitors" for their cowardly acts with a 100-mph fastball, but Rose is crucified for morally shameful, yet not physically dangerous actions?

This argument reaches far beyond the diamond and enters the courts and fields of other sports. Lawrence Taylor, the greatest linebacker of his era, recently wrote a tell-all memoir about his rampant drug use and his run-ins with prostitutes. But Taylor is in the Pro Football Hall of Fame and was given the chance to resurrect his career. And, I'm sure if New York Giants head coach Tom Coughlin hired Taylor as his new defensive coordinator, NFL Commissioner Paul Tagliabue would allow it.

Michael Jordan is the face of basketball, the most respected athlete ever. A few years back, he dealt with the Karla Knafel scandal, whom he allegedly paid off after an affair. So, he cheated on his wife and bribed a woman to keep quiet about it. That is both immoral and illegal, but Jordan didn't suffer at all.

And I have a gut feeling that alleged rapist Kobe Bryant, who was just voted by the fans to start in the All-Star game, will one day join Jordan in the Hall of Fame.

Take nothing away from Clemens, Ryan, Taylor, or the other crackhead, adulterous, morally despicable professional athletes who dominate their field of play, and take nothing away from Rose.

4-2-5-6 ... those arn't tonight's winning lottery numbers, the amount of batters Clemens beaned, or dollars with which Jordan paid off Knafel. That's the number of hits Pete Rose has.

So, Rose leads the game in its most important statistic. Who's No. 2? Ty Cobb. What a coincidence. There's only one difference, though. Baseball aficionados roaming through Cooperstown get to see Cobb, but no mention of baseball's hit king.

Let's consider one other factor. Rose never bet when he played. All his illegal dabbling occurred when he was managing. I agree that he should not be in the managing Hall of Fame. But he should be on the wall next to Cobb and Ryan, and waiting for steroid-abuser Barry Bonds, headhunter Clemens, and the lazy boy of his era, Manny Ramirez.

Charlie Hustle was not the greatest guy in the world. But the fans in Cooperstown are deprived of the passion, talent and excitement he brought to the diamond every day of his career.

Major League Baseball's commissioner, Bud Selig, says he has one big reason why Rose should not be in the Hall of Fame. Well Bud, I can think of 4,256 big reasons why he should.

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