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July 31, 2013

Direct Kick: Morgan, Bench want Rose to be given a second chance

LAUREL COUNTY, Ky. — The Baseball Hall of Fame ceremony was held Sunday without the induction of any player currently eligible thanks to the specter of steroids.

Mark McGwire. Sammy Sosa. Barry Bonds. Roger Clemons. Rafael Palmeiro. All were eligible, all had Hall of Fame numbers, yet none received the amount of votes needed for induction. And all have been tied to using PEDs.

The biggest news that came out of the ceremony was former Cincinnati Reds great and Hall of Famer Joe Morgan asking baseball for leniency for former teammate Pete Rose, who is banned for life for betting on baseball, although there was never any evidence that he bet on or against his own team.

“Pete did a bad thing, I’m not saying he didn’t,” Morgan said. “He broke baseball’s cardinal rule. And he shouldn’t have taken 10 years to come clean. But he never cheated the game. Yet he’s out 24 years as opposed to Braun getting 65 games? That just doesn’t seem right to me.”

Morgan was referring, of course, to Ryan Braun, who is suspended for the rest of the season for testing positive for using performance enhancing drugs.

Even Johnny Bench, a teammate of Rose and also a member of the  Hall of Fame, who has had his differences with Charlie Hustle over the years, thinks it is time to revisit the Rose situation.

“It’s common knowledge Pete and I had our differences through the years and he’s said and done a lot of dumb things, but now he’s been saying and doing a lot of good things for baseball and I believe he at least deserves a hearing now with the commissioner,” Bench said.

Unfortunately that probably won’t happen. At least not while Bud Selig is commissioner. Maybe not even while Rose is still alive.

And that’s a shame. I’ve said it before and now thank goodness some of his former teammates and Hall of Fame members are echoing those sentiments.

What Rose did was wrong. I’m not denying that. No one is. But is it fair that he’s banned for life from baseball while players who used drugs to enhance their performance on the field aren’t? In a fair world, no. But Selig’s world isn’t a fair one.

I commend Selig for going after the PED users and trying to make examples of them. But if you really want to get drugs out of baseball, then give lifetime bans to those caught using them. That might make them think twice about using in the first place.

Is it really fair that Rose if banned for life? No, it isn’t. And it’s time Selig realizes this.

But I’m afraid that will never happen. Selig is a stubborn man.

I wish he would change his mind. Whatever happened to second chances? People who have done much worse than Rose have been given a second chance.

Commissioner Selig, I implore you to give Rose a second chance. Meet with the man who holds so many baseball records. Twenty-four years he has been banned from baseball. Murderers have been paroled in less time.



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