Recently released evidence shows that all-time hits leader Pete Rose bet on baseball games as a player in addition to as a manager.
Is it really that surprising? Did we really think Rose was telling the truth when he said he only bet on games as a manager, and always on the Reds to win?
If there was ever any doubt that Rose could wiggle his way off the permanently ineligible list, that chance is now gone with the new revelations.
Rose was Lance Armstrong before Lance Armstrong was Lance Armstrong. He’s someone who spent years telling everyone he was innocent only to one day come clean about betting on baseball. It’s difficult to believe any explanation he offers for his transgressions.
His time to come clean was in 1989 when John Dowd’s report, which contained strong evidence against Rose, was released. Rose didn’t admit his mistakes until 2004. And no one will ever know how baseball would have handled the case if Rose had told the truth right away and figured out a way to pay some sort of penance.
I’ve believed the evidence in the Dowd report was enough to keep him on the permanently ineligible list, thus making it impossible for him to be inducted into the Hall of Fame. Managing a game in which you have money on the line is unacceptable. And Rose did it during 52 Reds games in 1987.
The most disturbing aspect of the new evidence is that Rose dealt with bookies connected to the mob, a revelation that will tarnish his career even further.
Most baseball games, especially during the playoffs, are nine-inning dramas. And fans deserve to arrive at the ballpark comforted by the fact that the story will play out organically.
The implication that Rose dealt with mobsters is troubling. It raises the possibility that a debt can be forgiven if you let a grounder go through your legs or strike out with the tying run on third. There’s no direct evidence of that, but the integrity of the game can’t be put into question that way.
This is why baseball has Rule 21 (D), which reads: “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.”
The Dowd report has had Rose ineligible since 1989. Rose denied this for 15 years before coming clean — in a book he made money on. If that wasn’t enough for you (it was for me) there’s more to chew on now.
Remember the Hit King. Remember his 4,256 hits — an amazing total. Remember how he regularly flew around second and launched himself into third. And he should be honored at the All-Star Game when it returns to Cincinnati this year.
But reinstatement? The Hall of Fame? No way.