I want you to ask yourself this, what Major League Baseball players deserve to be in the Baseball Hall of Fame? Does Pete Rose deserve to be in the Hall of Fame? How about Mark McGwire, Barry Bonds, or Roger Clemens? Maybe even one day New York Yankess third baseman Alex Rodriguez, who is on the eve of hitting home run No. 600?

While watching Hall of Fame outfielder Andre Dawson give his speech after his induction into Cooperstown on Sunday, he said some things that struck a chord with me and became the inspiration for this article.

“Do not be lured by the dark side. It’s a stain on the game. A stain gradually being removed. But that’s the people, not the game. Nothing wrong with the game. There never has been,” Dawson said.

He then continued with, “Baseball will, from time to time like anything else in life, fall victim to the mistakes that people make. It’s not pleasant and it’s not right.”

However, the quote that made the most impact in my mind was, “Individuals have chosen the wrong road, and they’re choosing that as their legacy. Those mistakes have hurt the game and taken a toll on all of us.” 

Dawson was clearly taking a shot at all players who have been accused or have openly admitted to using performance-enhancing drugs while playing baseball.

Ironically, those comments were coming from a man who endured 12 knee surgeries over an impressive 21-year major league career; a man who was an eight-time All-Star, with 438 career home runs, 2,774 hits, 1,591 RBI, and 314 stolen bases.

Dawson also spoke highly of Pete Rose, but didn’t lobby for his induction to the Hall of Fame.

Rose has been permanently banned from baseball since 1989 and thus keeps him from being enshrined in the one place he deserves.

That’s right sports fans, Pete Rose deserves to be in the Hall of Fame!

Pete Rose, aka Charlie Hustle, was the definition of a baseball player. Over his 23-year career, Rose was a three-time World Champion, 17-time All-Star (at five different positions: 2B, LF, RF, 3B, and 1B), two-time Golden Glove Award winner, 1963 NL Rookie of the Year, and 1973 NL MVP. He also holds a record that in my mind may never be broken—4,256 career hits.

Rose, however, was deemed permanently ineligible by then-Commissioner A. Bartlett Giamatti for allegedly betting on baseball games. He would later admit in his 2004 autobiography My Prison Without Bars that he did bet on baseball and other sports while he played for and managed the Cincinnati Reds. He also admitted that he bet on the Reds, but never bet against them.

Though Pete Rose may have bet on baseball games, including games he managed, he never cheated, something many of the great baseball players over the last decade have done.

Players such as Alex Rodriguez, Mark McGwire, Barry Bonds, and Roger Clemens all have been linked to using performance-enhancing drugs. Among those players, only Alex Rodriguez and Mark McGwire have come forward and admitted that used medications that improved their play.

Last time I checked, anytime you use a substance that helps you enhance your performance would be considered…CHEATING!

Pete Rose isn’t a cheater. He never did anything to enhance his physical performance. 

This article isn’t solely about who has cheated and who hasn’t.

A professional baseball player’s induction into the National Baseball Hall of Fame shouldn’t be determined solely on what records a player has broken, or what feats that player has accomplished, but what that player has given to the game of baseball itself. It needs to be about what that player has given to the fans of baseball as well.

Below are three outstanding baseball players, who have done wonderful things for the game of baseball, but because of their poor lack of judgement (i.e. Pete Rose) they too may never see the Hall of Fame. 

Mark McGwire

Mark McGwire was first eligible for the Hall of Fame in 2007. He can be remembered as one of the famous Bash Brothers (along with Jose Canseco) of the Oakland Athletics, McGwire broke the single season home run record for rookies in 1987 with 48 home runs. He was a 12-time All-Star, 1990 Gold Glove Award winner, three-time Silver Slugger Award winner, and the 1987 AL Rookie of the Year.

Eleven years later, in 1998, McGwire would gain national notoriety along with Sammy Sosa as they pursued the single season home run record the same way that Mickey Mantle and Roger Maris did in the summer of 1961.

Mark McGwire would finish the 1998 season with 70 home runs, nine more than Roger Maris hit in 1961.

However, McGwire’s amazing feat, toppling a record that stood for 37 years, would be tarnished by revelations that he used androstenedione, an over-the-counter muscle enhancement supplement, in order to shorten the time needed to recover from the physical wear on his body.

Although he never admitted to using steroids during the 1998 season, McGwire would admit in 2010 that he had used steroids during his playing career.

Barry Bonds

Do Barry Bonds’s stats alone give him enough credibility to be voted in for the Hall of Fame? Yes. Will the BALCO scandal and steroids be his downfall? Absolutely!

During Barry Bonds’s 21-year career he was a 14-time All Star, eight-time Gold Glove Award winner, 12-time Silver Slugger Award winner, and seven-time Most Valuable Player. He is also the single-season home run leader with 73 home runs, and is the career home run leader with 763 round trippers.

Bonds also had 2,935 career hits, 1,996 RBI, and 514 stolen bases.

His accomplishments alone should make him worthy of a first ballot induction to the Hall of Fame in 2013, however his involvement in the Bay Area Laboratory Co-operative (BALCO) may have tainted that.

Bonds was accused and indicted by a grand jury about his involvement with BALCO around the time he was chasing the single season and career home run records. Reports had been leaked on Bonds’s grand jury testimony contend that he admitted to unknowingly using “the cream” and “the clear” both being anabolic steroid supplements.

Roger Clemens

Roger Clemens will also be eligible for the Hall of Fame in 2013 and his accolades and feats match that of Barry Bonds and then some. In his 23-year career, Clemens was a 11-time All-Star selection, seven-time Cy Young Award winner (having won the award in both American and National leagues), and the 1986 AL MVP.

Clemens is a member of the 300 win club, 3,000 strikeout club, 4,000 strikeout club, 300 wins-3,000 strikeout club, and in 1997 and ’98 won the pitching Triple Crown (wins, ERA, and strikeouts).

But, Clemens’s accomplishments will be marred by his alleged use of performance-enhancing drugs. Clemens’s former personal strength coach, Brian McNamee, came forward an admitted that he had injected Clemens with steroids during the 1998, 2000, and 2001 seasons.

Clemens was also mentioned in former US Senator George Mitchell’s report on steroid use in baseball 82 times; however Clemens still denies that he had ever used steroids or performance-enhancing drugs.

In conclusion, I believe that if any one of these players, including Alex Rodriguez (who will probably hit 770 home runs, and openly admitted to use performance-enhancing drugs) should be inducted into the National Baseball Hall of Fame, that Pete Rose also be given a fair chance for reinstatement.

We all need to remember that baseball is a game a majority of us loved while growing up, and that all these youngsters who have dreams of one day making it to the Majors and maybe even the Hall of Fame will get there, with hard work and determination.

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