Like a petulant child who refuses to understand why his parents have grounded him, Pete Rose continues to prove why he deserves no sympathy for his lifetime ban from baseball, after his recent public comments about Alex Rodriguez’s link to the Biogenesis PED case.
In an Aug. 12 appearance on a Pittsburgh radio show, Rose suggested that he would have received a lighter sentence if he had abused drugs or alcohol, or beat his wife, rather than bet on baseball games.
"I made mistakes, I can't whine about it," Rose said. "I'm the one that messed up and I'm paying the consequences. However, if I am given a second chance, I won't need a third chance.
"And to be honest with you, I picked the wrong vice. I should have picked alcohol. I should have picked drugs or I should have picked up beating up my wife or girlfriend because if you do those three, you get a second chance.
"They haven't given too many gamblers second chances in the world of baseball."
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The response was in reference to Rodriguez, which proves that after all these years Rose doesn’t seem to comprehend the impact of gambling. For Rose to somehow think there is a parallel between his “mistake” and Rodriguez’s link to PEDs, or other criminal acts, is further evidence that Rose is beyond pity.
Rose is right that he made mistakes and that gamblers don’t get a second chance, but he doesn’t seem to understand what mistakes he made and why they were so egregious. The integrity of the games he managed was compromised, and in doing so he committed an unforgivable sin. Rose never saw it that way.
"Right or wrong, the punishment didn't fit the crime — so I denied the crime,” Rose wrote in his 2004 book in which he came clean about gambling on baseball games.
He broke a sacred rule and received a penalty that has been around long before he ever laced up his cleats. Rule 21 (d) clearly states: “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.”
Rose bet on games while managing the Cincinnati Reds, and then denied it for 25 years. Only when he needed to sell books did he come clean. Even if he had apologized immediately after news broke of his betting, the lifetime ban would still be justified.
Gambling on games that you are involved in has far-reaching consequences. Fans must feel assured that they are watching an event where the outcome is not predetermined. Fans will rightly distance themselves from a sport that is willfully corrupt, as many have in Italy’s Serie A soccer league in recent years. Otherwise, fans can simply watch WWE, which, perhaps fittingly, Rose has been involved with since being banned from baseball.
As for Rodriguez, it was Major League Baseball’s problem that rules for PEDs were not in place when a culture existed that saw countless players juicing since the 1990s. The scorn surrounding Rodriguez is due to his lies and the fact that he had been implicated before. But once again, Rodriguez was doing what others were doing in his link to the Biogenesis clinic, and baseball officials have not put a lifetime ban in place for repeat offenders of the league’s doping rules. That doesn’t excuse Rodriguez’s offense, but it’s not comparable to Rose’s transgressions.
Things were far clearer for Rose. He broke a strict rule that carried a severe penalty. Instead of dealing with it, Rose wants people to believe that he chose the wrong vice.
It doesn’t work that way. Rose got what he deserved. Don’t bet on games you’re involved in. It’s not confusing, and it’s not up for debate.
Sadly, there are people who still side with Rose. They see his 4,256 hits, and want to let his gambling slide. To his supporters, an apology is acceptable penance for the wrongdoings.
To let Rose off the hook would set a terrible precedent. A player who throws a game can just say, “I admit my mistakes, and I am sorry,” and expect the ban to be lifted. If they don’t get it, they will rightly cry about the favoritism that Rose received.
The “Black Sox” scandal is still referenced today, even after nearly a century, because those players shattered the image of baseball purity, and shattered their reputations in the process. Shoeless Joe Jackson, the poster boy for the Chicago White Sox who spent a greater portion of his life maintaining his innocence, remains ineligible for the Hall of Fame 60 years after his death, and rightfully so.
Rose can apologize and point out other cheaters all he wants. It neither changes nor excuses what he did to baseball. Sorry, Pete. No second chances.