The Most Disgraced Athlete of All Time Debate… The Bloom is Long Gone

Read the opposing argument from Bleacher Fan.

What an amazing career. We will get to the stats in a moment. Before we do, conjure up some memories of Pete Rose playing baseball. I’m guessing a few specific memories popped into your heads. For me, I like the one of Pete Rose hustling in the All-Star game and bowling over the catcher. Sure, that was a violation of the unspoken rules and regulations in baseball. But it was also a beautiful play that embodied the hustle and attitude millions of dad’s across American were trying to instill in their children. Never quit. Never take a play off. Never phone it in. Pick the way you want to play, and play in that manner at all times, regardless of the consequences.

Rose used to be a legitimate role model. Until the truth set us all free. It turns out he was a chiseler. A liar. A fraud, and a phony.

Some athletes become disgraced for decisions others make, and some are disgraced by their own actions. Baseball legend Pete Rose falls into the latter category. He chose the path he so publically followed, and failed to confront the consequences until it was far too late for him to save face and respectability. Like a devastating and slow leak, negative information about Rose has leaked out for years. First it was just gambling. But, it has gotten worse.

The Pete Rose situation is a strange one. It seemed as though Pete Rose could not do anything that would further tarnish his image and reputation with American sports fans. Yes, despite the proven – and now admitted – gambling Pete Rose did on baseball, new evidence arises of further disgrace.

Before we come to that, however, it’s best to contemplate just how bad betting on baseball is as a player. If you have ever taken delivery on a sports magazine, you know the type of valuable information that is contained within it. You know, too, if you bet on sports that you need good information to help inform decision making. So, imagine the position Pete Rose was in? He knew the MLB scouting reporting on every player, every pitching match up. He built line up cards. He positioned the team on defense. That type of information could never be purchased, yet Pete Rose used it to bet on his team and make gobs and gobs of money. It’s not just that he gambled on the game, it’s that he cheated everyone out of respecting him. And what sucks the most is that he could have earned and kept that respect.

Pete Rose had 4,256 hits in his 24 year career. That’s right, he played baseball – productively – for 24 seasons and he owns the hit record. He batted .303 for his entire career. He won Rookie of the Year in 1963, MVP ten years later, second in the voting another season. He was also the rare player-manager that seemed to make it work.

Some pundits and fans will relentlessly defend Pete Rose arguing that just because he is a lousy person does not mean he cheated on the game. I mean, what harm do a few bets really do? After all, Rose never ADMITTED to cheating on the game, or gambling AGAINST his team. It is consistent with Rose’s personality to bet ON his team, then spur them to victory. His stats are amazing, right?

Except in June of 2010, very quietly, reported on an X-ray that was done on the bat Pete Rose used in 1985 as he was chasing down Ty Cobb’s all time hit record. The picture does not lie. Yep, that’s cork. Pete Rose is not just a gambler, he’s a cheater too. Surprised? If so – why? We all know and understand Pete Rose’s character now. There are few surprises the man can throw at us.

Given this additional character evidence – on top of the years of self-perpetuating, stigma-building lying – it is not evident that Pete Rose is the most disgraced, and the most disgraceful, athlete in American sports history. His name has been dragged through the mud year after year after year since he stopped playing. Rose has done nothing to stop it, either. He tried to come clean – 14 years too late – in Sports Illustrated in 2004. Then, when it turn out that was not the complete truth, he again came “completely clean” in 2006 when he admitted to betting on the Cincinnati Reds nightly. Yes, every single night. And, in his arrogance, that admission was supposed to be exactly what people wanted to hear to quiet the criticism. Heh. How insulting.

Pete Rose has proven time and again that he just isn’t a good, trustworthy, upstanding person. He is a disgrace to baseball, to record-holding, to fanaticism, and to history. He further tarnished his imagine after it was discovered that he used a corked bat, too… for who knows how many seasons? No player in any sport has more publically, more thoroughly, and more dramatically tarnished his imagine that Pete Rose.

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2 Responses to The Most Disgraced Athlete of All Time Debate… The Bloom is Long Gone

  1. Old School says:

    Excellent article! Pete Rose was the first person I can remember who charged for autographs. To me that is the height of arrogance for millionaire athletes. Also, at one time he confessed to betting right about the time of the Hall of Fame inductions, what a coincidence! He has lied so many times how can anyone believe him when he says he never bet on his on team?

    • Sports Geek says:

      Great point on charging for autographs! Who does that?

      On a side note, perhaps we should debate the value of collecting autographs? I have never understood why folks do that.

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