Saturday, July 19, 2003

Pete Rose: Mock trial

He belongs in the Hall

A televised mock trial Thursday to determine whether Pete Rose deserves to be in the Baseball Hall of Fame was for show. But it brought attention once again to the fact that Rose belongs in the Hall of Fame, not because of what he did off the field, but what he did on it.

A jury at Ames Moot Court at Harvard School of Law voted 8-4 in favor of sending Rose to the Hall of Fame. That verdict was not at all unexpected. For years, baseball fans have clamored for Charlie Hustle's name to be enshrined in Cooperstown.

Rose was banished from Major League Baseball in 1989 for gambling. Two years later, the Hall adopted a special rule to make sure Rose, who holds 32 baseball records in a career that predated his gambling woes, could not be admitted.

Rose is reaching the end of a 15-year window in which he could be voted in by the Baseball Writers of America. Once that window closes, it would be up to the Hall of Fame's Veterans Committee to admit him. But under the current rules, he can't be considered at all while his banishment is in effect.

The made-for-TV trial on ESPN featured high-profile attorneys Johnnie Cochran, who defended Rose, and Alan Dershowitz, who argued for the prosecution. The jury agreed that because Rose did not bet against his team he should be in the Hall.

That has always been the case in the court of public opinion.

There is more Rose could do to help persuade Baseball Commissioner Bud Selig to lift the ban. Rose has yet to take responsibility for his actions and recognize the damage he did to the game. Rose did not participate in Thursday's show, but some former stars who did, said Rose should show contrition.

We agree.

Rose belongs in the Hall because of his baseball prowess. A contrite Rose who publicly faces up to his problems enhances his chances to get there.

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