Pete Rose's name entered the conversation once again yesterday, when this former magnificent ballplayer made a pre-All-Star Game appearance on Fox TV. Wearing what has become his trademark bow tie, and with his hair dyed an alarming shoe polish black (apparently he owns a James Lipton starter kit), Rose talked baseball.
To those fans who still think Pete Rose should be enshrined in the Hall of Fame despite having admitted to gambling on baseball, let me present what I consider to be a slam-dunk argument for why he should not. Let's begin with a review of the facts.
Fact #1: In 1990, Rose was sent to prison for income tax invasion. Instead of copping to it and agreeing to monthly payments, Rose continued to lie to the IRS, presumably thinking that by stonewalling, he could beat the rap. Alas, after giving him every opportunity to come clean, the IRS had no choice but to drop the hammer. Rose did 5 months in federal prison and was fined $500,000.
Fact #2: After being accused of betting on sports events (a violation of major league baseball), Rose vehemently and self-righteously denied ever having done so. In fact, he appeared positively offended, morally outraged, by the very accusation.
Fact #3: But after bookmakers came forward and hundreds (hundreds!) of betting slips were subsequently produced, Rose admitted to having lied. He confessed that he had, in fact, bet on football and other sports, but had never (never!) wagered on baseball games.
Fact #4: Noted sportswriter Roger Kahn (a good friend of Pete's) asked him face-to-face, man-to-man, if he had ever bet on baseball. Rose said he hadn't. When Kahn persisted and asked why he hadn't, Rose said it was a matter of propriety. He told Kahn that he simply had "too much respect for the game." Kahn believed him.
Fact #5: After hundreds of betting slips revealed that he had indeed bet on baseball games, Rose had no choice but to confess to it. Still, he vehemently and self-righteously insisted that he had never bet on a game while he was a major league manager--a role in which he could affect the outcome of a game. Kahn believed him.
Fact #6: Pete confessed to having bet on baseball games while he was a manager.
So what's that "slam-dunk" argument I alluded to--the one that must prevent Rose from ever gaining entry to the HOF? It's this: Being the "helpless" gambler that Rose admitted to being caused him to bet on his OWN team to lose.
Just think about it. What would stop this degenerate gambler from betting on his own team to lose when, as manager, he could affect the outcome? What would prevent him from doing that if it meant winning a bet? Ethics?!? Please.
But if people still think Rose should be in the Hall, that's their right. If they think that "morality" or "ethics" would have prevented this inveterate liar from betting AGAINST his own team, that's their right. Personally, I find that argument as believable as Pete's dye-job.