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Pete Rose: “I should have picked alcohol … or I should have picked beating up my wife or girlfriend”

Aug 12, 2013, 1:20 PM EST

Pete Rose AP

Quote of the Day territory from the All Time Hit King. Pete Rose went on a radio show and talked about his lifetime bad for gambling compared to the PED guys’ suspensions for drugs and ballplayers with other vices. He came out here:

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 a second chances in the world of baseball,” Rose said.

There is a pretty common talking point among those who, like me, tend to defend the PED guys, and that’s that it’s rather perverse that baseball punishes PED use so severely but doesn’t seem to care if players get DUIs, have a history of domestic violence or find themselves in other sorts of trouble.  I think this often gets misstated, however, and I think Rose is misstating it here too.

I don’t think it’s so clear a case that the league itself is messed up on this subject. Practically speaking it is hard for Major League Baseball to police conduct that does not directly relate to the game. If it were to suspend guys who engaged in criminal conduct or other sorts of moral deviancy it would have to figure out whether to do so upon arrest or conviction, which can often be separated by years. And what to do if there is a plea to a lesser charge. It would have to decide when, if ever, to interview the players involved in such a way as they don’t violate 5th Amendment rights. It would have to decide how to distinguish varying degrees of off-field misconduct. It seems easy to suspend a player who robs a liquor store, but what do you do if he’s, say, accused of tax evasion? And what if he’s just a miserable drunk?

This doesn’t mean the league can’t or shouldn’t at least think about wading into this world — at times I think it should, other times I’m not so sure — but there is no denying the hundreds of thorny issues involved. There are a lot of hard questions and tough choices to be made, all while law enforcement is doing its own thing. It makes the “why suspend Player X for ‘roids when Player Y is a drunk driver?!” rhetoric kind of beside the point, even if it feels satisfying to say it. They are different issues and only one of which is squarely within Major League Baseball’s jurisdiction, at least in the first instance.

Where I do believe that the comparison of PEDs and other bad conduct is apt is when we — usually we in the media — are talking about a player’s character in general.

There have been far more angry words written about Alex Rodriguez being a liar and a cheat, a narcissist and an all-around awful person than there have been sober words talking about the nature of his offense within the context of baseball’s rules. In contrast, we never hear too much said about the character of a player who has done truly awful things in an absolute sense instead of a baseball sense. Not many writers want to condemn the drunk drivers, wife beaters and rapists among the ballplaying class, even if they consider it their sacred duty to question the character of PED users and those players who are up for election to the Hall of Fame. That is where perspective is utterly lost in my view. They freak out about something that is major within the game but minor in life while simultaneously ignoring the transgressions that are major in life. Which is fine if they want to get out of the character assessment business altogether — I’d love it! — but they have no desire to. They still want to say some guys are saints and others are bums. They just don’t want to play fair when they do it.

Back to Rose: no, Pete. You shouldn’t have picked alcohol or drugs or beating your wife. That you didn’t speaks well of you. You were a fantastic baseball player who screwed up royally in a lot of ways, but you’re not worse off for gambling on baseball than you would have been had you been awful in other ways.  There are offenses to baseball and offenses to society. Yours to baseball are way worse than anything you’ve done in society, and you should be satisfied that you only fell so far.

(thanks to Rickset for the heads up)

158 Comments (Feed for Comments)
  1. jvalen13 - Aug 13, 2013 at 1:27 PM

    Oh, and another thing all you fans complaining about steroid use. What about amphetamine use. Team doctors were giving out upper like aspirin during the late 50’s to almost present day. So a lot of your favorite old time player may have been out late partying, came in all hung over for a day game, the good ole doc had a few pills that made you feel great and up for the game.

    • dinkydow - Aug 13, 2013 at 10:42 PM

      About amphetamine use: They didn’t call Willie Stargell “Pops” because he was old. In fairness, they all used anything to get an edge on a 162 game season. Recently, a Mickey Mantle game bat from 1964 was auctioned and x-rayed and guess what, it was corked.

  2. remwi - Aug 13, 2013 at 2:55 PM

    Just to put things in perspective Pete Rose is the ONLY player to be banned from baseball for gambling on the game. All other players permanently banned because of gambling were banned for conspiring with gamblers (i.e. taking bribes) to throw baseball games. This was never an accusation leveled at Rose.

    • dinkydow - Aug 13, 2013 at 10:50 PM

      Problem with Pete is we don’t know if he bet AGAINST his team and managed a game to lose to win a bet. If he did manage to lose on purpose then he is by far worst than any steroid user. If he managed his team to lose a bet, he disrespected his team, his teams fans and should have his stats removed from MLB as if he never existed.

      • dwhitley75 - Aug 14, 2013 at 3:46 AM

        That’s a lot of ‘if’s’……and yes, you don’t know.

      • basedrum777 - Aug 14, 2013 at 1:45 PM

        The point is we don’t need to know. The FIRST RULE of baseball is you don’t bet on baseball. Its posted in every friggin clubhouse.

  3. florida727 - Aug 13, 2013 at 3:05 PM

    Bud Selig’s legacy in baseball is trash. He seems to be the only one that doesn’t realize it. Too bad. He could make himself a memorable figure forever in baseball history by simply reinstating Rose and allow him to be eligible for the Hall. Face it, gambling is wrong, but it had no impact on how he played the game. I’m not a Rose fan or hater, but enough is enough. His gambling, if I heard it right, was a one-time offense. He, literally, bet the entire season at one time, telling the bookie to always bet that his team would win… every night. Stupid? Yeah, pretty much. Worthy of a lifetime ban? No. This story has really outlived its useful life.

    • jvalen13 - Aug 13, 2013 at 4:10 PM

      Really, a one time offense??? Pete Rose was and is still gambling addict! Only an addict would do something to risk what he truly cared about in his life just for a few dollars.

    • fissels - Aug 14, 2013 at 12:12 PM

      You better read the Dowd report. His gambling was extensive and blatant.

    • basedrum777 - Aug 14, 2013 at 1:46 PM

      There is no friggin way he satisfied his gambling addiction with one bet a year.

  4. mydoghasfleez - Aug 13, 2013 at 5:00 PM

    Pete, your are so full of sheet. Just Shut your stupid mouth, dry up & fade away.

  5. jollyjoker2 - Aug 13, 2013 at 5:17 PM

    Peds use is worse than rose gambling. These guys are not only cheating within the game by getting an edge over the other team but cheating their fellow players. Yet the dufus in charge will only give them 50 games. They should be out permanently for cheating and drug use.

    • basedrum777 - Aug 14, 2013 at 1:47 PM

      And if he was betting against the team where he was a player/manager that’s not worse?

  6. materialman80 - Aug 16, 2013 at 2:06 PM

    No Pete, you shouldn’t have picked alcohol or beat your wife for sure, but you can’t be a Manager in the game and be betting on the game. You made bad choices and you are paying the price for those bad choices.

  7. MyTeamsAllStink - Aug 17, 2013 at 10:43 PM

    Had Pete just admitted his guilt and showed some real remorse back in 1989 he might have been reinstated and in the Hall of Fame.He only chose to confess once he was trying to sell his book.Thats why baseball continues the ban plain and simple.Petes sorry he got caught not sorry he did it

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