Tuesday, June 23, 2015

Pete Rose

You may have heard that ESPN published evidence that Pete Rose bet on baseball games while he was a player, in contrast to his insistence to the contrary.

Two things about Pete Rose:

  1. I never cared for him all that much as a player. I mean, I fully acknowledge he was one of the best ever. But I always found him to be overly self-promoting and, on his most famous team, the mid-1970s Big Red Machine, only the third-best player on the club (Johnny Bench and Joe Morgan, if you must ask). He was a leadoff hitter with a .375 on base percentage, which is very good but not great. He was a lousy base stealer (57% lifetime success rate), didn't hit home runs (160 lifetime), and, while he played a lot of positions, left field was the only one he played particularly well. But he had amazing longevity, and was very, very good overall for a very, very long time.
  2. People get upset that he's lied about his gambling, pretty much every step of the way. Maybe it's a moral failing or something, but I just don't get excited about lying. Pete Rose lied, Alex Rodriguez lied, politicians lie, all true enough, but let's face it, you and I lie a lot, too. When lies get people hurt, yes, that's bad. When people lie to cover their butts, as Rose or Rodriguez did, well, is it really that different from the lies we tell when our boss asks us about the report we forgot to complete, or our spouse asks us whether we remembered to get bread on the way back from work*? I just don't see it.
While I don't get excited about lying, I do get excited over rules. And there's really only one that's relevant here: 
Rule 21 Misconduct, (d) Betting on Ball Games, 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.
He bet on baseball while he was in uniform. Open and shut. There isn't a statute of limitations. He's permanently ineligible, which means he can't go into the Hall of Fame. Period. The newest revelations don't change that at all.

*No, my wife usually doesn't read this. So don't tell her, OK? And for the record, she generally doesn't eat bread.

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