The Baseball Hall of Fame is great to write about because the topic resonates so strongly with readers. That was the case again last week, when I received numerous letters after I had opined about Pete Rose, Barry Bonds, gambling, steroids and how they all relate to the Hall.

The Baseball Hall of Fame is great to write about because the topic resonates so strongly with readers. That was the case again last week, when I received numerous letters after I had opined about Pete Rose, Barry Bonds, gambling, steroids and how they all relate to the Hall.
 That and other subjects fill this edition of Mike's Mailbag.
 From Galen Noard, Hennepin: "Yes to Bonds because he was good before the alleged use of a banned substance but shame on Rose for betting after he played and rang up unbelievable numbers in the sport? I don't understand the reasoning. Not that I care if either one doesn't make the Hall of Fame."
 From Robert Bowers, Washington, Ill.: "You stated you would vote to induct Barry Bonds into the Baseball Hall of Fame because he already had the numbers (before allegedly taking performance-enhancing drugs). What numbers were you referring to, hat and biceps sizes? Your willingness to give him a pass shows your lack of character. Perhaps you should reconsider voting Pete Rose into the Hall. He has the numbers, too."
 From Robert Langellier, Springfield: "Once Rose had amassed 4,200-plus hits, 2,000-plus runs, 1,300-plus RBIs and a collective .303 batting average over 24 seasons that included 17 All-Star selections, a Rookie of the Year and eight times finishing in the top 10 for MVP, he retired from baseball. After THAT, he (became) a manager and cheated on baseball."
 From Allen, "For what it's worth, here are Bonds' numbers through 1999: .288 BA; .409 OBP; .599 slugging; 445 HRs; 1,299 RBIs; 460 SBs. Three MVPs and nine Gold Gloves, also. But I wouldn't vote him in; I'd invoke the character clause. These guys should pay a price for their choices."
 NADEL SAYS: Almost exactly five years ago, I wrote that I'd have voted for Rose had he been eligible for the Hall instead of being permanently suspended for betting on the team he managed. I put that in my first draft last week, but the column was getting long and it got cut during my editing process. I wish I had left it in!
 (Speaking of long columns ... I received hundreds of letters I couldn't fit into today's piece. To read more, go to my blog, The Baldest Truth, at .)
 I can't reconsider voting for Rose because his eligibility for the Baseball Writers Association of America ballot long ago expired, and I doubt the Veterans Committee ever will let him into their exclusive club.
 As for Bonds and other implicated Steroid Era stars, I merely stated where I was leaning in each case. As reader Allen illustrated, Bonds had Hall of Fame stats before he reportedly started juicing in '99. It will be years before I have to vote; by then, many more facts will emerge.
 From Randy Ryner, Springfield: "Right on concerning the firing of Scott Skiles. Virtually all coaching changes are just public relations, with not much to do with team performance."
 NADEL SAYS: Now that Bulls players, GM John Paxson and team chairman Jerry Reinsdorf no longer are "burdened" by Skiles, lets see how well they do their jobs from here on out.
 From Leah Casteel, Lake Villa: "If Chicago's beloved Bears were to hit Hollywood, which movies would they star in? Brian Urlacher, 'The Parent Trap'; Lance Briggs, 'Gone in 60 Seconds'; Brian Griese, 'Liar, Liar'; Ricky Manning Jr., 'The Usual Suspects'; Devin Hester, 'Catch Me if You Can'; the offensive line, 'Hollow Man'; the defense, 'Pulp Fiction'; Ron Turner, 'O Brother, Where Art Thou?'; Lovie Smith, 'Groundhog Day'; Rex Grossman, 'Unforgiven.' And finally ... Mike Nadel, 'Stranger Than Fiction.'
 NADEL SAYS: I can't top that, so I won't even try!
 From Lt. Jeff Kirkendoll, Springfield (written from Camp Victory, Baghdad): "Reading what you have to say has given me a break from the crap over here in Iraq. Keep up the good work and keep safe."
 NADEL SAYS: Me keep safe? The only thing I have to dodge here are e-mails from angry readers and the occasional stream of tobacco spit from a ballplayer. So YOU keep safe, lieutenant, and thanks for the nice words.
 From Steve Stocker, "To imply Kyle Orton is 258 percent better than the NFL's only three-time MVP is crazy. Also, to say (the Bears) are superior (to the) 12-3 Packers ... you do the math."
 NADEL SAYS: Really? Orton isn't better than Brett Favre and the Bears aren't better than the Packers? Wow. Now that I've been educated, I can imply something else: This reader wouldn't know sarcasm if it clunked him on the head. Thankfully, the next reader, like most others, got it.
 From Justin Hocker, Pekin: "Your column on the Bears-Packers game sure had a slant only a negative sportswriter like you could write. Instead of writing how the Bears at least did not roll over ... you took the easy way out and mocked how good the Bears will be next year. Wishing you a more positive New Year in 2008!"
 NADEL SAYS: I'd apologize for being negative about the Bears if I had reason to apologize. I won't pat pro athletes on the back for showing up and doing what they're paid megamillions to do. If the 2008 Bears don't want to be mocked, all they have to do is put a better product on the field for the loyal fans who pay their salaries. And if you think I'm "negative," check out a few letters from your fellow fans.
 From Don Kindilien, Dahinda: "I can't believe these guys are allowed to wear the uniform. In business, if folks do not perform, they're gone."
 From Mike Sherman, Springfield: "Super Bowl team to Toilet Bowl team. 2008 will determine if Lovie Smith will continue as coach. A good coach would not allow the bad play-calling by the coaches and the inept play.
 From Nathan Johns, Peoria: "The Bears were one missed field goal and one boneheaded Matt Hasselbeck interception from being bounced in the first round last year. It's cute that the team and its fans had Super Bowl aspirations, but it's time for a reality check."
 NADEL SAYS: See what I mean? Rough crowd.
 From Lisa Baize, Brimfield: "The Bears should re-sign Rex and look for a solid prospect in the draft. At least with Rex, they know what they have."
 From A.J. Ward, Springfield: "Fans were once dying for Brian Griese's consistent mediocrity and ability to not turn the ball over. Well, we've come to find Griese throws as many picks as Grossman. Rex scares me to death, but he might be our best bet."
 NADEL SAYS: So what you're saying is that Rex is 516 percent better than Favre?
 From Michael Beckman, Springfield: "I'm not sure I can agree with you about giving (Illinois point guard) Chester Frazier some slack. He makes poor decisions with the ball, he can't shoot and he can't hit free throws. Bottom line is Chester is not a very good player and should never have been offered a scholarship by Bruce Weber."
 From Harley Henson, Springfield: "Weber needs to get Frazier out of the lineup and use him as a sub. Weber should know by now Frazier isn't a point guard. I have watched the Illini for 40 years, but it's hard to watch this team."
 From Joe Kappes, Brimfield: "Weber has nothing for next year, either. The year after that, he has some talent already committed, but I think he will suffer for several years before the talent gets up to speed. It's a shame because I think he is a good coach and person."
 NADEL SAYS: It's not Chester's fault that he's Chester; it's the coach's fault for not finding a better point guard. I agree with reader Kappes about Weber, and I hope Bruce is still around to see the influx of young talent down the road.
 From Bill Zimmer, Varna: "As a long-time Illini fan, I'm glad to see them go to a bowl game. But the Rose Bowl? No damn way. Mizzou got shafted. And the BCS sucks. Go to a playoff system!"
 NADEL SAYS: I couldn't have said it any better. My disillusionment with the system is why, for the third straight year, I won't watch one second of one bowl game. I hope some folks join in my BCS boycott -- although I hardly can blame Illini fans for peeking at the Rose Bowl.
Mike Nadel ( is the Chicago sports columnist for GateHouse News Service.