About a week ago, Pete Rose was finally recognized by the baseball elite who enshrined him in the hall of fame. Granted, it was not the National Baseball Hall of Fame in Cooperstown, NY. No, he won’t be getting into that one anytime soon unless he pays the $15 for a ticket like the rest of us. It was the Cincinnati Reds Hall of Fame located next to Great American Ballpark in Cincinnati, Ohio.
With the announcement that Rose would be enshrined in the Red’s Hall of Fame, the good old MLB Hall of Fame pot was stirred once again.
It’s hard to reason that a plaque dedicated to the man with more hits on his record (4,256) than any other player in baseball history can’t be found walking the halls of Cooperstown.
Perhaps “hard” isn’t the right word. It’s actually very, very easy to come to terms with that fact when you take a moment and look at Pete Rose’s history and the facts surrounding the “unofficial” investigation.
In the interest of not using this post to regurgitate the entirety of the investigation and history of Rose’s suspension (which can be found here), I’ll instead sum it up in just a few sentences:
Pete Rose played a lot of baseball and got a lot of hits. Then, Pete Rose managed some baseball and managed some wins. Then, it was discovered that Rose was a pretty prolific sports bettor, and someone thought that they ought to look into that. In 1989 the commissioner of baseball (Ueberroth, then Giamatti) decided to sit down and have a chat with Mr. Rose, during which he denied betting. Shortly after, John Dowd (the investigator, not the faux-Barry Bonds in MVP Baseball 2005) was asked to investigate these claims. His report found that Rose did indeed do his fair share of sports betting (around $10,000 a day) during his heyday. Rose again vehemently denied this as the report’s contents continued to go public. The history of his pleas went something like this:
“I never bet on sports,”
“Okay I bet on sports but not on baseball,”
“Okay I bet on baseball but not the Reds,”
“Okay I bet on the Reds but not when I played,”
“Okay I bet on the Reds when I played and managed the team, but never on them to lose,”
How long do we have to wait until a new report breaks the reveals that he did, in fact, bet on the Reds to lose? Dowd’s report ceased once he had enough evidence to prove he bet on baseball; at that point, he didn’t need to dig any deeper. According to Dowd, he did, in fact, find evidence that Rose bet against the Reds, but he chose not to include it in the report because it was not concrete enough for his taste.
MLB Rule 21, Section B states as follows:
(d) BETTING ON BALL GAMES. Any player, umpire, or club official or employee, who shall bet any sum whatsoever upon any baseball game in connection with which the bettor has no duty to perform shall be declared ineligible for one year.
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.
Rose knew the rules. He knew that Major League Baseball doesn’t play around regarding them (see Black Sox scandal for proof). He knew that a sign with those exact words is posted in every clubhouse across the nation, and has been for almost a century. And he decided to bet on baseball anyway.
Rose continued to deny, deny deny until 2004, when he was able to cash in on a book deal, in which he revealed that yes, he did bet on his own team quite a bit. He lied and lied and lied until he discovered that he could profit off of writing a book, much like he profited off of betting on his own team for years. So he did that.
For years, Rose was determined to crush anyone who dared stand up to Charlie Hustle, claiming that there was no proof of any wrongdoing. This is, of course, because Rose agreed to be deemed ineligible in exchange for Major League Baseball and the FBI to make no “official” claims regarding the investigation into his gambling habits. He wouldn’t be federally prosecuted, illegally-placed debts (possibly to mobs) would be forgiven and the MLB would make nothing they found “official,” as long as he accepted to be deemed ineligible. He wanted the investigation called off, more than likely, because he was afraid of what they would find if they continued to dig. So they made that offer, and Pete Rose said yes.
If Rose had come clean in 1989, none of this would have happened. Dowd allegedly worked out a deal that would exonerate Rose of charges of tax evasion and absolve him of debts that he owed (that apparently numbered in the hundreds of thousands) to loan sharks, if only he would come clean.
Again, Rose chose this ban. And yet now, he continues to campaign for himself at any opportunity regarding how unfair the case against him is. His own ego now puts him above not only the rules of baseball, but above the decisions that he himself made in 1989. He has constantly maintained that he’s better than the people who used PEDs, despite the fact that he allegedly both used amphetamines and corked bats.
“I told him that – while I would never turn my back on him – he needed to take the heat for what he did and maybe he could get his life back,” said Tommy Gioiosa, an associate of Rose and cocaine dealer. “But the Pete Rose of that day and age wanted nothing to do with that. It was that ego and arrogance that made him such a great ball player and made him think that he would never get into trouble.”
While Gioiosa can certainly vouch for the Rose “of that day and age,” many others can vouch for the Rose of today. Dowd’s investigation has revealed concrete evidence regarding Rose’s betting habits; now we need some anecdotal evidence to find out what kind of person Rose is now.
That ought to do it. There were more than a few additional stories about Rose when I searched on Reddit, but I figured two was sufficient. Now, Rose being an asshole in general shouldn’t reflect on his career as a ballplayer. I only posted these to show that Rose hasn’t changed much since his ban. He’s continued to bet on sports, even going so far as to tell new MLB commissioner Rob Manfred that he still bets on baseball daily.
Is it a shame that one of the best players to ever play baseball isn’t in the Hall, absolutely. It’s difficult to imagine that someone as prolific a hitter as Rose isn’t enshrined. But Rose sealed his own fate when he made the decision to bet, then lie, then lie, then lie, then lie again, then agree to a ban. If his lifetime ban was overturned, it would set a horrible precedent for the game. It would be an unofficial declaration that betting on baseball results in a lifetime ban, unless you’re like, really good. The Hall doesn’t ignore Rose’s existence, it mentions that he is the all-time hits leader, he just doesn’t have a plaque.
If Rose is interested, gambling is not banned in landscaping and therefore does not render one ineligible from the Landscaping Hall of Fame. Perhaps it’s time for Charlie Hustle to pick up a new career. I recommend taking the under in the “how many lawns will Ryan scalp this season,” as my weed whacking has greatly improved, and 3.5 is generous to say the least.