Tag Archives: Hall of Fame


                                Kallas Remarks by Steve Kallas


Hank Aaron (thankfully) has brought the Pete Rose issue back into focus.  Rose isn’t a good guy, he gambled on baseball (but only on his team to win, a huge difference – see below), he made a buck by writing a book confessing to gambling (after writing a book years ago stating he didn’t do it) and on and on and on.


But even the Rose naysayers should admit that next month, the 20th anniversary of his lifetime ban, should be more than enough of a punishment for the all-time hits leader.  No, he didn’t go to jail.  But banning him from baseball and Hall of Fame eligibility is the equivalent of jail for a baseball lifer like Rose.  Many murderers do far less than 20 years.  Baseball druggies, banned “for life” many times (see Howe, Steve, among others), could apply for reinstatement after one year and were often reinstated after one year.


It would seem that the 20-year mark has awakened many Hall of Famers.  They say that enough is enough is enough.  It’s a simple way of saying “When does the punishment fit the crime?”  Aaron, Frank Robinson, Joe Morgan, Ozzie Smith and other Hall of Famers all see the obvious:  Pete Rose has more than paid the price and should be eligible to the Hall of Fame.




It all goes back to the 1919 Black Sox scandal.  In the wake of the White Sox throwing the 1919 World Series, baseball banned gambling (prior to 1919, some players and managers would routinely gamble on games).  When Commissioner Kenesaw Mountain Landis (who is in the Hall of Fame despite keeping African-Americans out of the game for over 25 years – who hurt baseball more, Rose or Landis?) “cleaned up” baseball, an anti-gambling rule was instituted.


Major League Rule 21(d) states, in pertinent part:  “Any player, umpire, or club or league official or employee, who shall bet any sum whatsoever upon any baseball game in connection with which the bettor has a duty to perform, shall be declared permanently ineligible.”  The rule also states that if you bet on a game in which you have no duty to perform, the suspension is one year.


The rule is stupid on its face.  By betting “any sum whatsoever,” you can have the absurd situation of friends passing each other on the field before the game and one says to the other, “I’ll bet you fifty bucks that we beat you tonight.”  If the other guy says OK, in theory you could have two lifetime bans over a $50 bet.  Is that absurd?  Of course it is.


Nor is there any differentiation between betting on your team to win and betting on your team to lose.  Clearly if Pete Rose had bet on his team to lose, ban him for life and throw away the key.  But that’s not what happened.  Understanding the personality of Pete Rose, even his enemies would understand that Rose would only bet on his team to win.


And if that’s true, how can the punishment for betting on your team to win be the same as betting on your team to lose?




So, we would all agree that, if you bet on your team to lose, you should be banned forever.  If you bet on a game that you’re not involved in, you should be banned for a year.  BUT THERE SHOULD BE A MIDDLE GROUND IF YOU BET ON YOUR TEAM TO WIN.  And that middle ground (you pick the number) should be two or five or even ten years.  But under no set of facts should it be twenty years.  And that’s what it is next month for Pete Rose.


So, when does that great American legal principle, that the punishment should fit the crime, come into play?  Never?  That’s absurd.




Fay Vincent, over the years and this week, talked about the deterrent effect of the gambling lifetime ban and how Bud Selig would be making a mistake by reinstating Rose.  But Vincent himself, back in June of 2008 on WFAN radio in New York City, admitted that, had Rose “come clean” earlier, he probably would have been reinstated after a few years.  So the notion of “deterrence” disappears by Fay Vincent’s own words.  That’s not too hard to understand, is it?




Still the greatest example of hypocrisy in the Hall of Fame, Perry wrote a book entitled “Me and the Spitter” (seriously).  In it, he explained how he threw a spitter, then changed to a Vaseline ball, etc.  While stating in the book that he had stopped, Gaylord Perry went on to pitch TEN MORE YEARS in the major leagues.  He’s in and Pete Rose is out?  Come on.  Who hurt baseball more, Gaylord Perry or Pete Rose?  It’s not even a conversation.




Well, the latest reports are that Selig isn’t seriously considering reinstating Rose.  But the pressure has begun to mount on him and, when Henry Aaron speaks, Bud Selig listens.  Maybe with a rush of support from numerous living members of the Hall of Fame, enough pressure will be brought to bear on Selig so that he will see the obvious – that Pete Rose has more than served his time, has admitted his guilt (better late than never) and should have a chance to enter the Hall of Fame.


And, after Rose is reinstated, we can start talking about Shoeless Joe Jackson.


© Copyright 2008 by Steve Kallas.  All rights reserved.


                               Kallas Remarks by Steve Kallas


Patrick Ewing was inducted into the Basketball Hall of Fame on Friday night and the criticism of his play could still be heard back in New York City.  He never won a championship.  He wasn’t a “great” player.  His guarantees were usually worthless.  It’s stunning that, with the disgrace that’s been New York Knick basketball for the last few seasons, many people still don’t understand what they had when Ewing was here and what they lost when he went to Seattle.


The reality is, in NBA basketball, one guy doesn’t win a championship.  Go on and on all you want about how great Michael Jordan was (and, of course, he was), but he won nothing until Scottie Pippen came along.  Sometimes two guys don’t win a championship.  The great Elgin Baylor never won one and he played with the great Jerry West, who didn’t win one until he played with the great Wilt Chamberlain.  Don’t forget John Stockton and Karl Malone, another dynamic duo without a title.  And on and on and on.


Despite being bashed for years, all Patrick Ewing did was put up 23 points and 10 rebounds per game for FIFTEEN YEARS.  He turned the Knicks from scrubs into championship contenders.  He carried fellow Hall inductee Pat Riley (arguably the greatest coach ever, see Kallas Remarks, 4/30/08) and his Knick team on his back to Game 7 of the 1994 NBA Finals.


Yet, when healthy, he never played with a Michael or a Scottie.  He never played with a Magic, a Kareem or even a James Worthy.  He never played with a Bird or even a Kevin McHale.  In fact, when healthy, he never played with anyone even close to any of these guys (Bernard King doesn’t count because he (King) wasn’t healthy early in Ewing’s career).


While it’s a joke to think that Ewing was the greatest Knick ever (Walt Frazier first, Willis Reed second, Ewing, Bernard King and Dave DeBusschere (maybe Richie Guerin) round out the top five), Patrick Ewing was a two-time Olympic gold medalist, a Top 50 greatest NBA player of all-time and now, a Hall of Famer.


Yet many people still think that he was not a “great” player.  While that shows that these people know little about basketball, it says a lot more about us, the fans and some alleged “experts,” than it does about Ewing, the player.  Congratulations to a great player, who gave his all to New York for fifteen seasons.    

© Copyright 2008 by Steve Kallas.  All rights reserved.


                                Kallas Remarks By Steve Kallas


 We don’t get many pronouncements from the mountaintop anymore about Pete Rose and his insidious crimes against humanity.  But, since Fay Vincent has a new book out and the “Mike and the Mad Dog” (is Mad Dog one word or two? – I can’t tell on the YES Network) show is a good place to pop your latest book, we had to hear it again on Monday on WFAN in New York City.

Before getting to the book, Fay Vincent had to explain to us (people who think Rose should be in the Hall of Fame) what a terrible thing Pete did and how we don’t “grasp” how bad betting on baseball is.


The joke, of course, is that we are now looking at NINETEEN YEARS for Pete Rose.  No chance for the Hall of Fame, no ability to get back into baseball, no (correct) sympathy for a bad guy like Rose.


But now, 19 years later, that totally misses the point.  What Fay Vincent and everyone else on the keep-your-foot-on-Pete-Rose’s-throat-forever bandwagon can’t “grasp” is this basic tenet:  The punishment has to fit the crime.  Do people who kill other people get less than nineteen years?  You betcha (pun intended).




So let’s start with Major League Rule 21(d) which, in pertinent part, states:  “Any player, umpire, or club or league official or employee, who shall bet any sum whatsoever upon any baseball game in connection with which the bettor has a duty to perform, shall be declared permanently ineligible.”  Many of you know that if the same person bets on a game in which he had no duty to perform, that suspension is for one year.


Understand the stupidity of this rule on its face.  If an outfielder on one team sees his buddy on the other team right before the game and says “I’ll bet you fifty bucks we win tonight” and the other guy says “OK,” they can both be banned for life.  Stupid, no?  Suppose that afternoon, an outfielder on one team says to his friend on the other team, “We’re dumping tonight. We’re not going to try to win.”  Do you see a difference?  Even an idiot could “grasp” the difference.


Understand that Rule 21(d) was made in the wake of the 1919 Black Sox scandal (did you know that Shoeless Joe Jackson was hitting .382 in September of 1920 (seriously) when he had to stop playing due to the scandal? – but that’s for another time).  We don’t even know if betting on your team to win, not something the Black Sox were involved in, was considered by Commissioner Landis when Rule 21(d) was implemented in the early 1920s.    


Unfortunately for Pete Rose, no differentiation was ever made between betting on your team to win and betting on your team to lose.  Anyone remotely objective has to see the difference.  If you’re betting on your team to win, obviously you’re going to make every effort to win.  If you’re betting on your team to lose, well, you can figure out the rest of this sentence.  And while Vincent tells us how insidious betting on your team to win is, has there ever been ANY evidence that Rose hurt one of his pitchers or hurt his team’s ability to win the next game by blowing out a relief pitcher.  Did that ever happen with Rose?


So the best argument, aside from the stupidity of the same punishment under present Rule 21(d) if you bet $20 once or $2,000 a thousand times, is this:  If you bet on your team to lose, you should be banned for life.  If you bet on a team in a game you’re not involved in, you should get a year.  BUT IF YOU BET ON YOUR TEAM TO WIN, YOU SHOULD GET SOMEWHERE BETWEEN A YEAR AND A LIFETIME BAN.  You pick the number: two years eight years, 15 years, it doesn’t matter because Pete Rose has already been banned for 19 years.  When does the “punishment fitting the crime” come into play?  Never?  Why can’t these guys “grasp” that?




Fay Vincent was happy to tell us about the difference between the druggies who were banned for “life” (in some cases again and again and again – I won’t write again seven times) and could (and did) seek reinstatement after one year.  How (Howe) could this be?  Well, the rules state that if you’re banned for “life,” you can apply for reinstatement after one year.


So, when Pete Rose was banned for life, don’t you think he thought it was for a year?  Of course he did.  Was that stupid on his part?  Of course it was.


But make no mistake – the general feeling at the time was Rose would eventually get back in the game.  So, as the druggies came, were banned for life and were reinstated after a year, Pete Rose twisted in the wind for, for, for, forever, apparently.  Again this is just wrong.




Perhaps the funniest/saddest thing of all is Vincent’s pronouncement that, if Rose had told the truth earlier, he would have eventually been reinstated.  This is really scary, because it confirms what many of us think:  Pete Rose isn’t being banned for life for gambling.  He’s being banned for life for gambling and then lying about gambling.  So, the “deterrence” that Vincent talks about isn’t based on people being punished for life for gambling.  It’s based on people being punished for life for gambling and then, however weakly, trying to cover it up.  See the difference?


The “deterrent” effect that Vincent talks about as being all-important is undercut by his own analysis.  Again, when he admits that Rose would have been treated differently and probably reinstated after a few years had he admitted his gambling right away, any notion of long-term deterrence disappears by Vincent’s own words.  That’s not too hard to understand, is it?




While there are many Hall of Famers to put in this headline, Gaylord Perry takes the cake.  While still in the majors, Perry wrote a book entitled “Me and the Spitter” (you can’t make this stuff up).  In it, he explained how he started throwing a spit ball, Vaseline ball, etc.  Of course, he stated that he had stopped and then pitched ten more years after the book was published.  Who did more to hurt the game of baseball: a great player who bet on his team to win as a manager or, a 3-7 pitcher who experimented with a spitter (by his own admission) to stay in the majors and became a Hall of Famer?  If you’re remotely objective, it’s not even a conversation.  Put that on Gaylord Perry’s plaque.




Well, nowhere.  Bud Selig won’t make a decision (who hurt baseball more: a manager who bet on his team to win or (fill in the blank with the name of your choice), a steroid-user who did what he had to do to stay ahead of the pack?  Again, not even a conversation).


Pete Rose has served his time out of baseball and out of the Hall of Fame He should, at a minimum, be allowed to be voted into the Hall of Fame (he probably wouldn’t get there, but he deserves the opportunity).  He should also, with strict conditions imposed by Bud Selig, be allowed to return to the game in some capacity.




The book is called “We Would Have Played for Nothing” and purports, according to Chris Russo, to talk about baseball in the 1950s and 1960s.  Of course, the notion that these guys would have played for nothing is, essentially, a crock.          



Go ask Sandy Koufax why he and Don Drysdale held out as a tandem in the 1960s.  Look up the Mickey Mantle story when, the year after he won the Triple Crown in 1956, he “only’ hit .365 and the Yankees wanted to cut his salary.  Go ask Ralph Kiner about the Branch Rickey story he tells when Kiner, looking for a raise after leading the NL in home runs (again) for the lowly Pirates, was told “We came in last with you and we can come in last without you.”


This false notion of playing for nothing was never true – in the last 100 years, numerous players jumped to rival leagues for more money.  In the early 20th century, the owners had a salary cap of $2400 per player.  The Chicago White Sox threw the 1919 World Series because their owner was so cheap.  Sal Maglie and others jumped to the Mexican League.  And on and on and on. 


It’s a quaint notion that, in the ‘50s and ‘60s, players who had to get jobs in the off-season to support their families would have played for nothing.  But it’s simply untrue.


What these people need to understand is that there are other baseball fans with a clue who follow this stuff.  Whether it’s talking about the “good old days” or talking about the absurdity of the Pete Rose situation, a better grasp of the situation is necessary. 


© Copyright 2008 by Steve Kallas.  All rights reserved. 


                                                                             Kallas Remarks By Steve Kallas


The Hockey Hall of Fame Committee will be meeting in a couple of weeks to determine the 2009 Class for induction into the Hockey Hall of Fame.  Can they correct a gigantic mistake?  Well, maybe football great Art Monk can help them (read on).


It’s arguably the greatest omission of any player in any major sport’s Hall of Fame.  By virtually all accounts, one-time New York Ranger goaltender Lorne Chabot was one of the greatest goalies of his time (1926-1937) and of all-time.  How do we know this today?  That’s easy – in 1999, The Hockey News published a list of the top 100 players in NHL history, regardless of position.  An expert panel selected Lorne Chabot, a two-time Stanley Cup winner, a first-team NHL All-Star and a Vezina Trophy winner, as the 84th greatest NHL player ever.


On that list, Chabot is ranked as the 17th greatest goaltender in NHL history.  This is amazing given the fact that there are 33 goaltenders in the Hockey Hall of Fame.  Unfortunately, Lorne Chabot is not one of them.


At number 84, Chabot is ranked near a number of Hall of Fame goalies like George Vezina (75th, yes, the trophy is named after him), Chuck Gardiner (76th), Clint Benedict (77th), Tony Esposito (79th) and Billy Smith (80th).  Chabot is also ranked ahead of Hall of Famer Johnny Bower (87th) and future Hall of Famer Dominik Hasek (95th).




Chabot’s numbers compare favorably with goalies of his era, goalies of any era and Hall of Fame goalies.  His career goals against average (GAA) is an astounding 2.04.  He had three seasons of 10 or more shutouts.  He finished his career with an amazing 73 shutouts.


Lorne Chabot’s playoff numbers are even more amazing.  His GAA is an unbelievable 1.54 in 37 playoff games.  Even more important, he won two Stanley Cups.  All of this was accomplished while facing Hall of Fame goaltenders on an almost-nightly basis.




Another good way to understand Chabot’s greatness is to look at “greatest” lists from the other major sports to see if any such omissions have occurred in baseball, basketball and football.


BASEBALL:  In 1999, The Sporting News came out with its Top 100 list of all-time.  Every baseball player on that list who is eligible to the Baseball Hall of Fame is in the Baseball Hall of Fame (the glaring omissions of Pete Rose and Shoeless (I hit .375 in the 1919 World Series and didn’t make an error but was thrown out for life for throwing the series) Joe Jackson must be left for another time).


BASKETBALL:  In 1997, The National Basketball Association came out with its Top 50 list to commemorate the 50th anniversary of the NBA.  The NBA, of course, is a much younger league than the other major sports and only five men play at once (which is probably why there wasn’t a Top 100).  Every player on that list who is eligible to the Basketball Hall of Fame is in the Basketball Hall of Fame (starting to see a pattern yet?).




FOOTBALL:  In the past when I’ve discussed this issue, I would have to write that in football, in 1999, The Sporting News came out with the football Top 100 list and all of those on the list who were eligible to the Football Hall of Fame were in the Football Hall of Fame EXCEPT the man ranked 91st, ART MONK.  But this year, finally (better late than never), Art Monk was elected to the Football Hall of Fame.  It took the football voters a few years (not decades), but they finally got it right.


So, today, the following can be written:  Every eligible member in the Top 100 lists of baseball, football and hockey and the top 50 list in basketball is in their respective Hall of Fame.  EXCEPT ONE: LORNE CHABOT.  Time to fix that, no?




Chabot was the main goaltender when the New York Rangers won their first Stanley Cup in 1927-28.  Chabot was the goaltender when the Toronto Maple Leafs won the Stanley Cup in 1931-32.  Chabot played in the only two six-overtime games in the history of the National Hockey League.  He won one and lost one.  Both were by scores of 1-0.  Give that a little thought (play almost 18 periods of playoff hockey, give up one goal and go 1-1 in those games).  Chabot was on the cover of Time Magazine (you can’t make this stuff up). 


Chabot fought for his country in France during World War I.  Later, he became a member of what would eventually become the Royal Canadian Mounted Police.


As a Ranger, Chabot was once approached by “an old-time boxer,” according to the accounts of the day, who offered him $15,000 to throw a game.  Chabot refused and immediately reported the bribe attempt to his boss, the legendary Lester Patrick.


Here’s a great Chabot goaltending story that nobody even knows about today, but shows his greatness in a circumstance that could never happen today.  In the 1934 playoffs, Chabot was playing for the Montreal Canadians, who had lost the first game of a (then) two-game series (total goals won the series back then) by a score of 3-2.  The Canadians had lost a few top players to injuries and then, in the first three minutes of Game 2 against the Chicago Black Hawks in Chicago before 17,000 fans, the Canadians lost their great superstar, Howie Morenz.  Chabot was amazing, shutting out the Black Hawks 1-0 in regulation.         


But, under the rules of the day, the game went right to overtime (series tied at 3 goals each) and the Black Hawks would eventually tie the game at 1 and “win” the series, 4 goals to 3.  Chabot stopped 46 shots for the undermanned Canadians while the Black Hawk goalie only had to face 26.


Imagine, shutting out a team on the road in the final game of the series, only to “lose,” 1-1 in overtime.  Hard to fathom, no?




There are a number of theories as to why he’s not in, none of which hold water today.  He was allegedly involved in trying to start a players union, virtually unheard of then and certainly, to be kind, frowned upon by the powers-that-be (rumor has it that he was blackballed for decades in the Hall of Fame Selection room because of this).  He played for six different teams, unheard of at that time.  He died very young (at 46 in 1946) so he was quickly out of the public’s consciousness.


Today every league has a players’ union.  Today, everybody (or so it seems) switches teams many times.  Today, a guy who dies so young would be viewed (properly or not) as a hero of sorts.


In the last few years, this writer has been fortunate to speak to a couple of members of the Hall of Fame Selection Committee about Lorne Chabot, specifically Doc Emrick and Emile “The Cat” Francis.  While members aren’t allowed to speak about the specifics of what goes on in the room (the committee has 18 members, 14 votes are needed to make the Hall), both spoke glowingly of Chabot and both said that he had support in the room.


But apparently, not enough support to get elected.  The only recent reason that’s been in the papers in the last five years was the old “if they didn’t vote him in then, why should we vote him in now?”  Those arguments are easily refuted because, if a guy was blackballed for stupid reasons (is this happening today to Marvin Miller in baseball?) or  it was a sign of weakness to play for many teams back then or he died young, today’s committee has to see the error of those misguided (negatively-influenced?) judgments of decades ago.




As recently as 2003, the “Hockey Maven,” acknowledged expert Stan Fischler, on Madison Square Garden’s website, MSG.com, ranked Lorne Chabot as the fourth greatest Metro-area goaltender (among the Rangers, Devils, Islanders and the old New York Americans) of all-time.  Mr. Fischler ranks Chabot ahead of four Hall of Famers – Chuck Rayner, Roy Worters, Gump Worsley and Eddie Giacomin.




For whatever reason, Lorne Chabot has slipped through the cracks.  It’s not too late to vote him in now.  Then, we can say that every player on the top lists of all-time players in the four major sports who are eligible to their respective Hall of Fame is in that Hall of Fame.  Now that Art Monk is in, Lorne Chabot remains the last one – still on the outside looking in.


© Copyright 2008 by Steve Kallas.  All rights reserved.