So by this point in time, we all know that Alex Rodriguez is baseball’s newest member of the 3,000 hit club, the 29th member. He hit it in the most appropriate of ways, an opposite field gopher ball into the friendly confines of Yankee Stadium to tie the game for New York. Alex proceeded to notch hit number 3,001 on the polar opposite of homers, a no-doubter into deep left field. This latest resurgence from Rodriguez is representative of his entire 2015 season. While many of you may be aware that A-Rod has been having a good season, has anyone actually stopped to quantify just how good he has been this year? Alex has hit at a .282/.384/.524 triple slash line, good for a .908 OPS. For those of you more into traditional statistics, Alex has put those up too. He has clubbed 14 home runs and 40 RBI in this the young 2015 season. These numbers put Alex at his best since 2009. Sounds like a Hall Of Fame worthy comeback after a fall from grace, no?
Anyone who knows me knows that I am a big supporter of Alex Rodriguez, and believe stoutly that he should be in the Hall of Fame, along with all other worthy players, even if they took PEDs. Somewhat coincidentally, as we are all examining Rodriguez’s HOF chances, new evidence appeared to incriminate Pete Rose. Rose has long since been banned from baseball for his involvement in gambling, possibly for his own Cincinnati Reds when he was managing. Ironically, Rose was out to prove that he belonged in baseball again at this year’s All-Star Game in Cincinnati. This data pressed forward today likely ruins his chances of appearing, and most definitely his chances of being reinstated into the MLB. Now entrenched in his job as an analyst for FOX Sports 1, it will be sure be interesting to see what he has to say about this incident.
A notebook of Rose’s was found some time ago and revealed publicly today, complete with evidence that he gambled on baseball not only as a manager, but as a player in 1986 as well. The papers never explicitly say if Rose bet against his own Cincy Reds, but anyone with a brain can put two and two together and figure that he sure was. This is one more jab to the tarnished legacy of Pete Rose, a knife in the heart that is his HOF chances. already on life support.
Alex Rodriguez’s 3,000th hit and Pete Rose’s betting on baseball don’t seem to have much in common on the surface, but the timing couldn’t have been more perfect for these two events to coincide. This is sparking a wild debate onto if these two should be allowed into the Baseball Hall of Fame. This debate will rage on forever, but it is my belief that these two individuals, along with all other PED users and known cheaters should be allowed into the HOF if their numbers so dictate.
Still here after that bold statement? Good, because there is more to this argument than meets the eye. If we are debating strictly upon Rodriguez and Rose, than their individual cases have much more merit. For Rodriguez, the prime reason he is not a popular candidate for the HOF is his excessive use of PEDs and his lying about it. While Rodriguez says he has never actually had a positive drug test (crazy, eh?), he has admitted that he took PEDs as a member of the Texas Rangers from 2000-2003 and again in some time between 2010-2013 with the Yankees. My main argument against PEDs being the prime reason why A-Rod is excluded from the Hall is that he is no different from any other PED user in baseball. While other known users like Barry Bonds, Roger Clemens, and Mark McGwire are not on the fast track to the Hall, has anyone examined why that is? The reasoning behind leaving PED users out of the Hall is that it is a sacred place where children come to see their role models and adults come to see their heroes live on forever next to other greats. These other greats are where the biggest problem lies, though.
There are numerous members of the Hall with controversy. Take for instance Ty Cobb, who was a racist who not only spiked players on accident, but made it a point to injure and to cheat. Oh, but Cobb has 4,000+ hits and times were different back then, so it’s ok to let your kid admire him while A-Rod is made an example of. Others with similar issues include Cap Anson and Tom Yawkey, one of the major front office figures in the Red Sox organization. Both are revered and in the Hall of Fame.
Every era in baseball history has included cheaters of different varieties, and each era’s strongest players are already in the Hall. It is well-known that ballplayers in the early-to-mid 1900s used corked bats. Some revered figures who used such tainted tools include Babe Ruth and Mickey Mantle. Using a corked bat was the popular way to cheat at the time, but voters overlooked this crime and elected both to the Hall. Flash forward to the infamous “Greenies” scandal of the 1950s-1980s. Greenies, slang for various amphetamines, have been admitted to have been used by Mantle, Willie Mays, and even Hank Aaron, who is popularly called the “Real Home Run King” due to Barry Bonds’ PED usage. Well, Aaron wasn’t exactly clean either. Neither was Ruth, Rodriguez, or Mays, thus making Ken Griffey Jr. the real home run king. Although it should be noted that he played in the Steroid Era, his history with PEDs remains clean to this day.
And cheating isn’t just a hitter’s trick. Pitchers have often used illegal substances to doctor baseballs, whether it be spit, rosin, sunscreen, pine tar, or who knows what else. Famous pitchers who have doctored baseballs that are in the Hall include Gaylord Perry, Phil Niekro, and Whitey Ford (Wow that’s a lot of Yankees thus far who have cheated. Makes sense they have 27 rings, huh?). Is there anyone out there who is questioning the validity of the statistics of these esteemed men? No, so why then are PED users in the modern era, most explicitly Alex Rodriguez, judged as scum and cheaters when many of the players in MLB’s long history cheated just the same?
All numbers in the MLB are tainted, from 762 career home runs to 60 homers in a season, from 3,000 hits to 300 wins to 600 saves. The common criteria for HOF induction includes 2,500+ hits and 500+ homers for a batter, and 250+ wins for a starting pitcher. Now if all of these legends’ numbers are false, but are the standards nonetheless, then why can’t those individuals with the aforementioned statistics enter the Hall today? They have cheated just as those before them did. Due to this, the Baseball Hall of Fame as a whole is nothing more than a great big joke nowadays if you believe it should be reserved for purists alone. There are none.
To me, PEDs are simply the evolution of cheating in today’s MLB. It began with doctored baseballs and corked bats, before moving on to gambling and finally drugs. There is a very small amount of people in the MLB who avoided these temptations, and truthfully, they weren’t very good. The fact that cheating is an accepted and inevitable part of baseball dictates that Alex Rodriguez, Pete Rose, and any others who have been eschewed from the Hall for their various controversies deserve induction into the Hall of Fame, more appropriately noted as the Hall of Shame.