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Pete Rose: Strong Buy, Accumulate

It’s impossible to link Pete Rose with O.J. Simpson. Right? Simpson played football and is in that sport’s hall of fame and also in jail. Rose played baseball, is neither in his sport’s hall of fame nor in jail.

But we live in an age when “political correctness” is being challenged, when quarterbacks are being suspended for throwing deflated footballs, when the most powerful country on earth is swapping five terrorists for a disgraced American soldier. Wow! Where is this going?

Given the snapshot of life above, why doesn’t Pete Rose just tell baseball com­missioner Rob Manfred “Go fly a kite.” Or something to that effect.

Just after Manfred upheld Rose’s lifetime ban from Major League Baseball, Rose held a news conference in Las Vegas, where he hangs out and signs base­balls, to express his disappointment in the commish’s decision. He also pledged that he will “continue to be the best baseball fan in the world. . . . I’m a baseball person, and that’s never gonna change.”

Quite true. Mr. I Bet on Baseball, at 74 years of age, became Mr. Magnanimous, thanking the commish during his “cordial” meetings. Roseshowed up with his sons and attorneys, one of whom said he should still be placed on the ballot.

Rose has come a long way since denying He bet on baseball. He finally con­fessed in 2004 to betting on games when he managed the Reds. He’s even in­scribed that confession on signed baseballs. Maybe he just should come out with an inscription, “HOF 20??” or “HOF Whenever.”

Rose has already given everything he can to the game of baseball. He owes baseball nothing. Charlie Hustle is already immortal. He’s the hit king at 4,256 hits and has a hall of fame career. Accordingly, he has memorabilia displays in Cooperstown. He’s there every summer greeting fans and signing. He just doesn’t have the bronze plaque, the sizzling July day on the stage, and the big speech.

Honestly, at this stage of the process, I think the Hall of Fame without Rose is more incomplete, if not tainted, than the Hall of Fame with his mug on the wall, with or without an asterisk.

With the Manfred verdict in, it’s time for Pete to withdraw from pursuing Hall membership. It’s time for Pete to say, “You won’t have Pete Rose to kick around any more.” He won’t live to see his induction and if somehow he gets in posthu­mously — it hasn’t happened for Shoeless Joe — the Hall will be vilified, so it won’t happen.

Meanwhile, as a collectible, Pete Rose’s stock is fine by us. We’re giving him a collecting rating of “STRONG BUY, ACCUMULATE.”

As for O.J. Simpson, not so much.

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