If you've gone to any news-related site today, you already know this: Pete Rose, baseball's all-time hits leader, no longer allegedly bet on baseball games while managing the Reds. He finally copped to it. And don't we all feel better now.
Lose a few bucks on the Mets today, Pete?
Pete's confession is set to hit ABC's Primetime and Sports Illustrated later this week. Why now, a less-jaded person than myself might ask? Well, you've heard of the Baseball Hall of Fame in Cooperstown, New York. Pete isn't eligible for the Hall because he agreed to a ban from baseball in 1989 (without admitting any wrongdoing, mind you.) Hall rules state that a player can be on the ballot for a limit of 20 years after retiring as a player-- which Rose did in 1986. Coincidentally, Rose's "outing" comes exactly one day after 2004's Hall entrants are announced-- leaving him with two years to lobby for his election into the hall if his ban is lifted.
This smells bad for multiple reasons.
First, the timing. It's not a conicidence that his book is being released the day after this year's Hall inductees are announced. What better time to talk about how Pete deserves to be in the Hall of Fame, when the subject is fresh on the minds of baseball fans? Pete has two opportunities to convince sportswriters that he deserves to be in Cooperstown, assuming Bud Selig lifts the ban placed on Rose in 1989. (And you can bet that if it means more money for the game, Bud will lift it-- Selig isn't motivated by public opinion as much as he is as more money.)
Next on QVC...
Second, Rose is still a snake. He now admits to betting on 300+ of the games that Dowd report detailed. But he still insists that he never bet on Reds games, despite their inclusion in Dowd's list. Do we believe him? Rose seems to be doing a good Don King impression-- "Yesterday I was lying, today I'm telling the truth." After denying betting on baseball for fourteen years, we're now led to believe that Pete can be completely trusted now? His betting on baseball games doesn't necessarily bother me (other than it's in flagrant violation of the rules)-- but the fact that he could have (and probably did) bet on the outcome of games he managed is outrageous.
More on the snake angle-- I don't believe Rose is truly repentant. Check this quote: "I should have had the opportunity to get help, but baseball had no fancy rehab for gamblers like they do for drug addicts." So it's partially the fault of baseball. Rose again: "Right or wrong, the punishment didn't fit the crime - so I denied the crime." Oh. Sure. Kinda like the time I stole $5 million from Dain but decided those prison sentences for theft were a little too harsh for my liking so I denied it. (Just making a point, oh omnipotent computer spies.)
Pete best not mess with the Dutchman
Lastly, potential Hall inductees who actually didn't break the cardinal rule of baseball may be impacted by this greaseball. Sure, he probably won't cost Wade Boggs any votes. But how about Bert Blyleven? Ryne Sandberg? Jack Morris? You could argue that Charlie Hustle deserves to be in Cooperstown before that trio. But I'd argue back that those guys played (mostly) by the rules and therefore don't deserve to get pushed aside by some lying cheater. Not to put too fine a point on it.
It's all one big stroke job, from ESPN to ABC, from MLB to Sports Illustrated, from Rose to Bud Selig. (And believe me, Selig's approval of this makes it smell even worse.) They've all grasped onto a story that, for some unexplainable reason has captured the public's attention. The majority of fans want Rose back in baseball, so therefore he gets back in-- despite the irony. Which I am guessing is lost on most people: in order to get reinstated, Rose has to admit that he did the one thing that he actually should get banned from baseball because of: gambling.
"Quit pestering me with logic!"
Why do I care? I'm generally a forgiving guy, and Pete Rose never did anything to me. I care because Pete Rose is dirt, and baseball is supposed to be pure. Why is he recanting? He didn't find Jesus. He didn't get a sudden urge to clear his name. Pete Rose has no conscience.
Pete Rose wants to be in Cooperstown because it'll allow him to sell more t-shirts on QVC. He wants to be in Cooperstown because it might get his foot in the door to manage the Reds again, and I'm betting that pays more than hawking signed baseballs on cable. He wants to be in Cooperstown because he's an ego-driven cheater who couldn't stand being pushed into oblivion. And according to a recent poll, 80% of baseball fans can't wait to have him back. I guess you can fool most of the people some of the time.
Oh, and see Alex's take on the Hit King from last year here.