A few months ago, we talked about Pete Rose and his refusal to take responsibility for his own actions when it comes to his place in baseball. Mr. Rose, for some reason, cannot figure out why his continual irresponsible behavior might somehow signal to Major League Baseball and the Commissioner’s office that he cannot be trusted back into the fold.
And now, this. An interview with Cincinnati Magazine on the eve of Rose’s 75th birthday and Reds Hall of Fame Induction ceremony reveals that he has no idea why he continues to be blacklisted from baseball.
You remember reading about Bart Giamatti telling me to reconfigure my life? OK, no one has ever told me—including Manfred, including Selig—what does that mean? […] If I want to bet on Monday Night Football, and that’s the way I enjoy my life, why is everybody so worried about that? […] It’s not illegal. If you don’t want me to bet on baseball or anything else, just tell me.
Later in the interview, he reminds us that he still doesn’t get the reasons why he was banned from the game in the first place. The interviewer asks Rose if he would consider not betting on baseball anymore [emphasis mine].
Here’s what you have to understand: I didn’t get in trouble for gambling. I got in trouble for illegal gambling, which is a big difference. And like I said, I do no more illegal gambling. That’s the last thing in the world I’d ever do. I’ll never associate with a bookmaker again.
Rose might be a sad old man, mourning a career in baseball and the singular focus of his life being ripped from him for over thirty years, but to willfully ignore the facts is not just a pathetic attempt to garner sympathy for poor life choices. It is yet another way that Pete Rose is trying to gamble his way through life; this time, by betting we won’t know the difference between an illegal bet and a legal one.
To be clear, the bylaws of Major League Baseball makes no distinction between legal and illegal gambling or bookmaking when it comes to betting on baseball. Once again, for the record, here is Rule 21(d), which is what is generally cited as reason to ban Rose from the game.
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.
There is nothing in the rulebook, in the entirety of Rule 21, that specifically says “illegal gambling”. It is gambling. Period. A bet on a sports book in Vegas is as bad as a bet with a back alley bookie when you are playing the game and also betting on it. There is no middle ground here. Rose might want to delude himself to this, but the fact remains that Rose bet on the game. Regardless of whether he bet on teams he was playing for, skewed something to fit within the perimeters of a bet, or didn’t have anything to do with any of the teams he bet against, there is a hard and fast rule that is posted in every Major League clubhouse and has been for over a century. Pete Rose broke this rule.
In a way, I feel sorry for Pete Rose, because of his own shameful actions and lack of remorse he is being taken away from something he truly loves. However, that is his own choice. Just as many people have chosen not to bet on baseball, and not to lie about having done so. Perhaps one day, Rose will be inducted into the Baseball Hall of Fame, and that day might be after he’s dead and can no longer enjoy the glory. But in reality, Rose will probably be a Shoeless Joe Jackson for all time. No amount of entertainment should be that expensive a price to pay.