Saturday, August 22, 2009

Pete Rose

USA Today has a story today on Pete Rose, and whether the numbers say he should be in the Hall of Fame (aka setting betting aside).

The story acknowledges his status as Major League Baseball's all-time leader in hits (4,256 vs. Ty Cobb's 4,189 - or perhaps 4,191), as well as his well-earned Charlie Hustle persona. But aside from that, the nonbylined piece is largely a side-by-side of baseball's all-time greats and Rose, with the shadow falling on the banned man and the light bright on MLB's stars and workaday players who could be conceived to outshine the Man Who Bet On Baseball.

Don't get me wrong: I view his as the ultimate sin in his sport, and I wouldn't say he belongs in the Hall. But you know, you can't win me on numbers when you forget - as USA Today did - to include that in addition to being the all-time hits leader, Rose was No. 2 in doubles, behind only Tris Speaker.

Maybe you haven't heard of Tris Speaker, inarguably one of the top hitters of all time. Besides being the all-time doubles king, Speaker is fourth in lifetime batting average, fifth in hits and sixth in triples. But hey, that's just one stat.

The thing is, you can tell a lot of stories with stats. True in life, true in baseball. But I don't think it's fair to tell a story and drop obvious important numbers, especially when the story is controversial (like Rose) and when you're trying to prove a point with numbers.

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