Thomas Sowell

In a sense, that ban applied not only for life but beyond death. None of those players has been put in the Baseball Hall of Fame, even though Shoeless Joe Jackson hit .408 at his peak and left a lifetime batting average of .356.

That was long before we became so sophisticated that we learned to come up with excuses for those who violate rules and additional excuses for those who refuse to impose penalties.

Today there are those who lament Pete Rose's exclusion from the Baseball Hall of Fame, despite a record on the field that would certainly have put him there, except for breaking rules.

But Shoeless Joe Jackson's even more impressive record would certainly have put him in Cooperstown, if he had not broken the rules.

There is still some lingering hope of sanity in the baseball writers' refusal to vote Mark McGwire into the Baseball Hall of Fame, despite his tremendous career achievements.

Keeping known rule-breakers out of Cooperstown would be a lot more effective deterrent than putting asterisks alongside their records, to be disregarded by those who are "non-judgmental."

Unfortunately Senator George Mitchell's report on steroid use in the major leagues and its recommendations are of the let-bygones-be-bygones approach that has spread the disregard of rules throughout the whole society, from student cheaters to career criminals.


Thomas Sowell

Thomas Sowell is a senior fellow at the Hoover Institute and author of The Housing Boom and Bust.

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