CINCINNATI (TDB) -- Ohio native Pete Rose has 4,256 hits in the major leagues, which makes him a peerless batter. He may have that many bets, as well. Rose isn't welcome in baseball, the sport that banned him in 1989 for gambling on the game. He's not been to the White House of late, either. Mostly, Pete scrapes along as a disgraced sports figure who inhabits the national doghouse.
Now, Barack Obama is saying another baseball star, Barry Bonds, should be welcome at 1600 Pennsylvania because of his on-field accomplishments. The Illinois Senator who is running for president told a news conference in Oakland, Calif., that Bonds' record of 756 home runs is a "remarkable achievement." The question about Bonds came up while Democrat Obama was campaigning in the Bay Area.
Bonds has a reputation as a steroids user, a charge he denies. But the odor clings to him the way the rumors of gambling clung to Rose. The drugs are suspected of giving Bonds the unnatural strength to smash Hank Aaron's record. Obama said in response to a question he'd be inclined to let Bonds be a guest:
"If I were president, I probably would. It's a remarkable achievement. And he deserves, I think, our congratulations. I remain concerned about the cloud that exists not just in baseball, but in everthing from basketball to the Tour de France. I mean, you just get a sense right now that sports is suffering from a crisis of confidence and my hope is that all the various sports leagues take those responsibilities seriously."
His comment is going to be sett the talk shows afire, and it is already up and drawing comments on the Chicago Tribune's Website. Of course, nobody is talking about Pete, the banned, ignored athlete with more lifetime hits than any other major leaguer. His transgressions didn't involve illegal drugs.
Pete's favorite ballplayer is not Bonds: "I think A-Rod is the best overall player in baseball."
And A-Rod, if he stays healthy, has a chance to break the record Bonds now holds.