Pete Rose: Yes or No?

January 7, 2004

Chicago Tribune
By: Paul Sullivan
Paul Sullivan covers the Cubs

When Major League Baseball began investigating allegations that Pete Rose was gambling on baseball, a bookie named Ron Peters testified he’d stopped taking Rose’s bets three years earlier because the all-time hits king refused to pay him $34,000 he was owed.

Not only was Rose a liar and a tax cheat, it appeared that he also was the kind of lowlife who would stiff a bet.
But with a new book to sell and a deadline to get on the Hall of Fame ballot, Rose finally has admitted he lied all alongwhen he said he never broke baseball’s cardinal rule.

Now he’s supposed to get his proverbial second chance, be absolved of all his sins and earn reinstatement in time for the Baseball Writers Association of America to finally vote him into Cooperstown.

“You can’t keep a guy from making a living,” Rose told the Associated Press in 1999. “It’s not the American way.”

Is it the American way to lie, lie and lie again until a time comes when it’s safe–and lucrative–to tell the truth? Rose is baseball’s version of former New York Times reporter Jayson Blair. Rose is a complete and utter fraud who decided to cash in on his web of lies with a “tell-all” book admitting some guilt.

Though the numbers suggest he’s a true Hall of Famer, Rose’s character is so despicable I can’t envision myself putting a check mark by his name if he winds up on the ballot. And if Rose is reinstated, how can baseball continue its ban of former White Sox third baseman Buck Weaver, who never took a dime of gamblers’ money during the 1919 Black Sox scandal?

It’s nice that Rose has stopped lying to the public after all these years. But that doesn’t mean he should be rewarded for coming clean. If Rose really is repentant, he should repay the gambling debts he refused to pay two
decades ago.

Getting a second chance may be the American way, but nothing is more un-American than walking away from a sports bet.

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