Pete Rose is done.
He will never — if this latest allegation and the smoking gun of an old betting chit are true — get into the National Baseball Hall of Fame.
To that, I say this: So what? Who cares? What’s it matter?
The seemingly perpetual back-and-forth games of “Did Pete Rose bet on baseball while he was a player?” and “Did Pete Rose ever bet against his team?” are things that have grown mind-numbing, tiresome and monotonous.
You know why? No one will ever take those 4,256 hits away from Charlie Hustle.
No one can, in any fashion, negate those 3,562 games of brilliance that he played in a career that spanned from 1963-86.
No one can strip, no matter where it goes from here, how he was a 17-time All-Star, three-time World Series champ, won the batting title three times, the NL MVP, the Rookie of the Year, the World Series MVP and a couple of Gold Gloves.
Rose was positively, unequivocally, indisputably great by any and every measure that you — or anyone else — wants to gauge a Major League Baseball player.
And I don’t need to see him reinstated to baseball or stand on a stage and give a speech in Cooperstown, N.Y. to validate as much. I’m old enough to remember going to Three Rivers Stadium and seeing him in the waning years of his career and internet-savvy enough to look up all the old videos on YouTube that I don’t need some arbitrary induction into some often-ridiculed Hall of Fame to know Rose was one of the finest baseball players to ever dig two cleats into this Earth’s soil.
This isn’t a column for or against Rose’s gambling habits or his transgressions, and certainly not one vilifying or applauding him for what he allegedly did or didn’t do in violation of a code known to all, to not bet on baseball while you are in the game.
Instead, these words — and they are solely mine — are a way of trying to explain that none of this current hubbub means much to me. Instead, I choose to look at players for what they were, for their greatness within those lines. And few did it greater than Rose.
I use a different threshold to judge Hall of Famers; they don’t need to be inducted into some building in the middle-of-nowhere New York to authenticate (to me at least) that they were the very best.
I have forever — or at least as long as I could form an opinion on the matter — come to the realization that all of the major sports halls of fame are diluted, overpopulated, too voluminous cathedrals that long ago got away from the true ideals which they were founded upon.
That is to say, way too many people have gained admission to them; there are far too many inductees.
Quite simply, they have all become The Hall of Very, Very Good or Better.
And that’s not why they were founded. When the brick and mortar was plopped down in Cooperstown in the late-1930s, the ideals should have remained, to this day, to allow in only the very best of the best.
Babe Ruth and Honus Wagner and Walter Johnson and Ted Williams and Bob Gibson and Stan Musial and Tony Gwynn — yes, those guys and many like them belong.
But Bob Lemon or Bobby Doerr or Craig Biggio or Frank Thomas or Dick Williams or many, many like them? Sorry, they simply don’t belong among the true top echelon, among the very, very best of the best.
So how much does this “honor” of getting in really mean anyway?
But Pete Rose?
He’s among the very, very best of the best, however you elect to look at it. In the latest twist, it doesn’t look good for his chances to get into the Hall of Fame.
To that, I say “so what?”
If you can’t understand his greatness — or if you need to have validation of that through a hanging plaque in some building — shame on you.
Next thing you’re going to tell me is that Barry Bonds wasn’t great, right?
Save it all for someone else. I know what my eyes have seen.
Colin Dunlap is a featured columnist at CBSPittsburgh.com. He can also be heard weekdays from 5:40 a.m. to 10 a.m. on Sports Radio 93-7 “The Fan.” You can e-mail him at firstname.lastname@example.org. Check out his bio here.