By Mark Vasto
A Rose by Ichiro’s Name
Pete Rose follows me on Twitter now, or at least he retweeted something I wrote about him, and that’s good enough for me. I’m also friends on Facebook with Jenny Mollen and Willie Nelson, and depending on which generation you talk to, nobody knows anyone I just talked about. (You can follow me too @sportingview … and unlike here, I am a man of few words there.)
In case you missed the past two or three decades, Pete Rose was a real son of a gun who hustled and played baseball with the sort of tenacity that only a few other players and marauding bands of Vikings could understand or match. He is Major League Baseball’s undisputed hit king. He is not in the Hall of Fame because he was banned from baseball for betting on baseball games, something every single baseball player has known not to do since the Taft administration.
The guy completely blew it, yet the man persists to somehow remain in the news. How many other Hall of Fames can this guy be inducted to? It seems like every other week he is inducted into the Reds’ Hall of Fame, Cincinnati’s Hall of Fame, Ohio’s Hall of Fame, the guy down the street’s Hall of Fame … Pokemon Go should make him one of their monsters because he has a statue or plaque in just about every major park in the Buckeye State. He has to have several hundred Rotary Club coffee mugs.
Then along comes Ichiro Suzuki. By the time you read this, Ichiro will have reached the 3,000 hit mark in Major League Baseball. If you were to add up the hits he made in Japan with the hits he made here, mathematics show that he has more professional base hits than Pete Rose. On a slow news day, there are reputable news organizations that will make a case for Ichiro being the all-time hit king.
That is, of course, totally preposterous. I know guys who bet on Wiffleball games … sure, it takes them out of the running for Cooperstown, but they get paid, and I know guys who throw perfect games every time I’m not in the opposing team’s lineup. Does that make them pros, worthy of being compared to Koufax and Walter Johnson? Tony Lazzeri, the Hall of Fame second baseman for the Yankees (who completely disrespect him, by the way), once hit a kajillion home runs in the minor leagues. Is he the home run king?
Ichiro is all class and truly, I love watching him play. He is a Hall of Famer, but he is not the hit king. That man is Pete Rose. This is probably not the last time I say this, but it’s good to forgive. It’s time for Pete Rose to enter the Hall or be allowed to participate in Old Timer’s or Cincinnati Wiffleball games. No offense to Ichiro, but it is well past time for our pastime to set the record straight once and for all.
Mark Vasto is a veteran sportswriter who lives in New Jersey.
(c) 2016 King Features Synd., Inc.