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Revisiting Pete Rose

Aug 26, 2009, 10:50 AM EDT

Since it was so much fun the other day, let’s run out one more ground ball on the whole Pete Rose/reinstatement/Hall of Fame discussion.

A clear majority of the 134 and counting comments to that article were in favor of Pete Rose being reinstated and voted into the Hall of Fame.  A majority of those comments — echoing Mike Schmidt’s own defense of Rose — trotted out some variation of “how can you not let Pete in when all of the evil, evil steroids users are allowed to live and play baseball and eat pie and kick puppies and do all of the awful things they do?!!” [note: people didn’t actually say that; most comments were far more impassioned].

Lost in all of this — and brought to my attention by reader Jason Fisher — is the fact that Pete Rose is not some being separate and apart from the business of steroids.  Or do you not remember Tommy Gioiosa?

Gioiosa says Rose listened with glee whenever his bodybuilder buddy talked about the fights he started in ‘roid rages. Rose also would watch him shoot up and ask questions about what he was using. Good stuff, Gioiosa would reply. Parabolin. Human growth hormone. A German extract from the pituitary gland of monkeys. Pete had been tempted to take a shot himself, especially in 1985 and 1986 when he was losing bat speed. But he told Gioiosa it was too late to try something new. (Rose, through a spokesman, declined comment.)    

How about Paul Janzen, the steroids dealer who, according to the Dowd Report, became Rose’s primary bet-placer?

In the middle of February 1987, Rose invited Janszen and Marcum to come to his home in Florida while he was at Spring training. Janszen and Marcum accepted the invitation . . . They stayed for six weeks at Rose’s rented house in Tampa, Florida.  Janszen had quit his job at the Queen City Barrel Company and was essentially living off the proceeds of his steroid business.

I have no idea if Rose ever used steroids as a player.  In fact, I actually kinda doubt that he did for the same reason Gioiosa says Rose declined to shoot up: he was too old and even Rose knew it would be too little too late.

We do know, however, based on ESPN’s reporting and the Dowd Report, that he worked out at a gym that he knew to be a hub of steroids users and dealers, many of whom he was very close friends with. One of the dealers was such a close friend of Rose’s that he actually lived in Rose’s house and was entrusted with running Rose’s illegal gambling and tax evasion activities (Janszen placed bets for Rose and brought him his unreported cash in brown paper bags from card and autograph shows).  We also know, again, based on the same sources, that Rose turned a blind eye to steroid use on the Reds teams he managed, going so far as to openly joke with unnamed steroid user on his team, telling him in front of reporters that he should talk about “what steroids can do for you.”

Maybe this doesn’t change anyone’s ultimate opinion regarding whether or not Pete Rose should be reinstated or allowed entry into the Hall of Fame.  It should, however, make you think twice about casting Rose as some greater moral and ethical actor than ballplayers who have been associated with steroids.  He was around it. He tolerated it. He joked about it. His close friend said he was even tempted to use.

To Pete Rose, steroids appeared to be just another one of those illegal things with which he had a certain comfort level.  How, then, they can be employed as the definitive moral differentiator between Rose and, say, Barry Bonds is beyond me.

UPDATE:  Some further discussion of all of this from Mr. Fisher can be found on this blog post, under the Barry Bonds heading.

  1. Aarcraft - Aug 26, 2009 at 11:07 AM

    Come on, Craig. You know full well that Jose Canseco invented steroids around 1988. All of this stuff you are talking about is pure fiction.

  2. Lettuce - Aug 26, 2009 at 11:20 AM

    So much for the steroids, how about we go back to his time when he was using the uppers?
    The guy’s no good.

  3. The Common Man - Aug 26, 2009 at 11:28 AM

    Lettuce, you’re quite right to talk about Rose’s illegal use of amphetamines and casual attitude toward any and all means of breaking the rules.
    And Craig, I’m frankly pretty surprised you’re willing to invite the brain-dead Rose apologists back for another round. Good luck.

  4. Jeff - Aug 26, 2009 at 11:41 AM

    Does anyone realize that Pete Rose is actually more famous because they won’t let him in????? They haven’t done anything but make the guy stay in the eye of the media. He’d have been a dinosaur by now that no one really cares about. Instead, we still talk about him 25 years later.

  5. Keith - Aug 26, 2009 at 11:49 AM

    Here we go again – think we cannot find so dirt of Ali, MJ, and Tiger?
    Oh no – don’t mention Tiger!

  6. The Common Man - Aug 26, 2009 at 12:03 PM

    You find the dirt, Keith. We’ll talk about it (presumably on another blog, however, since this one is dedicated to baseball, in case you haven’t noticed.

  7. charlie - Aug 26, 2009 at 12:57 PM

    C’mon. You want only popes in the HOF? Why not remove Ty Cobb because he was a racist?

  8. Craig Calcaterra - Aug 26, 2009 at 1:04 PM

    Who said that, charlie? I actually have no real problem with Rose in the Hall (I don’t want to see him holding a job in Major League Baseball, however). But there are many who want Rose in but who think that the steroids people shouldn’t be in on moral and ethical grounds. In fact, they — and Mike Schmidt — make Rose’s case on precisely the grounds that Rose should be in because the steroids people are far worse.
    The point here is that Rose is no saint even if we limit the topic to steroids, and thus such a distinction makes no logical sense.

  9. Jeff - Aug 26, 2009 at 1:25 PM

    Are you serious? Bringing up Rose and Roids just because he knew people who did it? Oh hell, then convict me of adultery and shoplifting. Rose should be in the hall because of what he did on the field. But regardless, he made his own bed and he knew he was breaking the cardinal sin when he gambled so I don’t feel sorry for him if he never gets in. I would put him in.

  10. jim - Aug 26, 2009 at 1:41 PM

    Bottom line is still that betting on baseball was the cardinal rule and was posted in every locker room in baseball – it has nothing to do with droids – judge him solely on his own deliberate actions in breaking the ONE rule that everyone knew was forbidden.

  11. nan - Aug 26, 2009 at 2:10 PM

    Pete who? :-)

  12. fred - Aug 26, 2009 at 2:16 PM

    Who really cares if pete rose gambled on baseball. Big whoop. I cant stand pete rose and you can take that charlie hustle and stick it where the sun dont shine. But I do respect the things rose did on the field and thats what the hall of fame is all about. If you were to remove all the womanizering baby kicking drunks from the hall of fame, half the fabled yankees be gone. The guys who showed up drunk, slept on the bench are now revered while a smuck who threw some cash on a game is defiled. Baseballs a stupid game played by overpaid prima donas and is run by an inept clown who cant find his own behind.

  13. Church of the Perpetually Outraged - Aug 26, 2009 at 2:30 PM

    The beginning of your rant has absolutely nothing to do with the second part of your rant. No one is saying you can’t “revere” or “appreciate” Pete Rose. You can think anything you’d like of him, just like any other member of baseball based on what they did.
    However, there’s a huge difference between the drunks, womanizers, abusers, etc is what they did and what Rose did. They might have broken society’s rules or the legal systems rules, Rose definitely broke baseball’s cardinal rule. He got caught, he’s getting punished, he has to deal with it.

  14. VirginiaSox - Aug 26, 2009 at 3:34 PM

    Pete Rose is a bum, he fixed his own games when he managed, he may have even done it when he was a player.
    Pete Rose should NEVER be allowed into baseball or the Hall of Fame.
    The steroid users should also NEVER be allowed in the Hall of Fame and should be removed from the game all together!

  15. ta192 - Aug 26, 2009 at 3:51 PM

    Gotta agree… In my case you could add drug smuggling, illegal disposal of a dead body, vehicular homicide, larceny, embezzlement, tax evasion, and (gasp) sexual harrasment, and those are just the people I have worked with over the years. Liked the rest of your analysis as well…

  16. tismayan - Aug 26, 2009 at 5:47 PM

    he’s like a rat salivating at a piece of cheese,,stop him dead..

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