Ron Cook: Shame on Reds for honoring Pete Rose, disgracing baseball
January 25, 2016 12:00 AM
John Locher/Associated Press
By now, isn't Pete Rose a face only Cincinnati fans could love?
By Ron Cook / Pittsburgh Post-Gazette
Maybe you missed the story. Maybe you were so consumed by the fallout from the Steelers loss to the Denver Broncos in their AFC playoff game that you didn’t see the news coming out of Cincinnati last week. It had nothing to do with Vontaze Burfict or Adam “Pac-Man” Jones, but it was every bit as offensive. The Reds are going to induct Pete Rose into their Hall of Fame this summer, retire his No. 14 jersey and build a statue of him outside Great American Ball Park. That is every bit as offensive as anything Burfict and Jones ever did.
It is not surprising.
The Reds are like any other organization in sports. They pander to their fans and give ’em what they want. That’s why they introduced Rose before the 2015 All-Star Game in Cincinnati even though he is banned from baseball. They still probably can hear the raucous “Pete! Pete!” chants there.
Reds fans are like fans everywhere. They idolize their sports icons no matter what they might have done on or off the field. They will sell their soul to the devil to win. Cheating or breaking the rules of the game? So what? Violating the laws of the country? So what?
Reds fans don’t care that Rose bet on baseball — breaking the No. 1 rule of any sport — and then lied about it for years. They don’t care that Rose was sentenced to five months in prison and fined $50,000 for cheating on his taxes.
I mean, really, so what?
Rose is baseball’s all-time hits leader, right?
His 4,256 hits trump all.
“Pete is our guy. He helped us win. We’ll always love him.”
What’s troubling about the Reds’ decision to try to make Rose a hero forever is the timing. Just a month earlier, commissioner Rob Manfred had turned down Rose’s request for reinstatement into baseball, assuring with near certainty that Rose, 74, won’t live long enough to be inducted into baseball’s Hall of Fame. Rose had agreed to a lifetime ban with then-commissioner A. Bartlett Giamatti in August 1989, because of overwhelming evidence that he bet on Reds games when he was their manager. An ESPN “Outside The Lines” report in June claimed Rose’s gambling on baseball went back even further, to his days as a player. ESPN’s proof was a 28-year-old notebook belonging to Rose business associate Michael Bertolini that showed Rose bet on games as a player.
“This nails down the connection to organized crime on Long Island and New York,” John Dowd told ESPN.
Dowd, who did the initial airtight investigation into Rose’s betting as manager, did not have access to Bertolini’s records.
“The implications for baseball are terrible,” Dowd told ESPN. “[The mob] had a mortgage on Pete while he was a player and manager. Rose placed his financial interest ahead of the Reds, period.”
Manfred said Rose’s argument for reinstatement at their meeting in September fell “well short.” Manfred said he was concerned Rose seems to have no idea his betting on baseball was wrong. He said Rose continued to insist he didn’t bet as a player and that Rose told him he still bets on games legally in Las Vegas, where he lives.
Rose just doesn’t get it. When asked last week how he envisions his statue that will stand forever, he said, “Well, I sure as hell don’t want it to be me standing at the $2 window at Turfway [Park].”
That probably drew big laughs in Cincinnati. Not so many around the rest of baseball, though.
“There is no question he was betting all along and he’s been lying about it,” Fay Vincent told the New York Daily News.
Vincent was deputy commissioner under Giamatti and succeeded him as commissioner.
“There is simply no reason to think this is a guy you want in baseball,” Vincent told the Daily News. “There’s no reason to reinstate him.”
That isn’t going to stop the Reds from honoring Rose. In doing so, they will thumb their nose not just at Manfred, but all of baseball. Just as it is with Rose, they don’t believe the rules of the game should apply to their team. Just as it is with Rose, they couldn’t care less about the integrity of the game.
Shame on the Reds.
Shame on Manfred for allowing the Reds to proceed with the Rose festivities despite Rose’s banned status.
Rose is the big winner here, but baseball is the loser.
This is a disgrace to baseball.
Ron Cook: firstname.lastname@example.org. Ron Cook can be heard on the “Cook and Poni” show weekdays from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. on 93.7 The Fan.
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