- The Washington Times - Saturday, August 29, 2009

Charlie’s Hustlers taking a swing at every turn

Give Pete Rose’s supporters some credit — the Hit King was more persistent than a mosquito in your bedroom on a dark summer night, but his backers are trying to outdo him.

Rose, the only man to play in the All-Star Game at five different positions, squeezed every drop of talent out of his 5-foot-11 spark plug of a body. In that spirit, a group of notable names who believe Rose should be in the Baseball Hall of Fame are making the most of every chance to campaign on Rose’s behalf.

Their latest excuse came Monday, the 20th anniversary of when Rose signed an agreement that banned him from baseball (oh, and it’s not ironic that baseball’s all-time hits leader is banned from the sport; if the street on which the Hall of Fame is located were renamed Pete Rose Boulevard, that would be ironic).

Mike Schmidt, a Hall of Famer himself, wrote a column for the Associated Press in which he decries the treatment of Rose compared with rule-breakers currently playing, and he closes with a question: “Twenty years have passed, isn’t that enough?”

Of course, it hadn’t been long since there was another former star making a pitch on Rose’s behalf. At the Hall of Fame induction ceremonies last month in Cooperstown, N.Y., Hank Aaron said Rose “belongs” in the Hall. Joe Morgan and Frank Robinson gave their endorsement, too.

No opportunity to speak on Rose’s behalf is going by the wayside. Don’t be surprised if some ex-star makes an impassioned plea in the World Series. After all, Rose did play in a few of those.

The occasions change, but the argument remains the same: “It’s been ‘X’ years since Rose was banned from baseball. Gee, that’s a long time. Let’s right a wrong and let him in.”

As if the passage of time has washed away Rose’s sins. Nowhere on that sheet Rose signed lo those many years ago is there a “forgiveness” clause, one that promises a chance at a place among the hallowed gods with contrition and the slow cascade of sand in the hourglass.

Rose’s transgressions are permanent, and the punishment must be as well. It’s easy to look at what’s gone on in baseball the past 10 years and conclude that what Rose did wasn’t nearly as bad. In truth, steroids and gambling can’t be compared — other than that they are both indelible stains on the game.

Among all the players who ever stepped on field, no one was more opportunistic than Rose. And more often than ever before, it seems, Charlie’s Hustlers keep reminding us that they learned from the best.

He said what?

“I don’t think anyone on this team knows what ‘schism’ is, let alone could use it in a sentence. I thought it was an STD when I first heard it and I was like, ‘Whoa, we preach abstinence in these parts.’ ” — Vikings end Jared Allen on reports of a team rift over Brett Favre

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