Pete Rose with the Cincinnati Reds in 1985.
(Photo: MerlinFTP Drop)
(USAToday.com) - Pete Rose has never been shy about expressing his opinion.
This is especially true when it comes to talking about his own lifetime ban from baseball or the potential suspensions of more recent players for their involvement with performance enhancing drugs.
Yet baseball's all-time hits leader's words are drawing a little extra scrutiny today after a weekend interview he did with Pittsburgh radio station 93.7 The Fan.
Via KDKA Pittsburgh:
Pete was candid about his lifetime ban from Major League Baseball and getting a second chance to return to the game.
"You have to understand, I don't call these guys to do shows, they call me. And of course with all this steroid talk and the 12 guys being suspended and A-Rod appealing, they want my input because I'm suspended for life. Hey, everything is a different case. I made mistakes. I can't whine about it. I'm the one that messed up and I'm paying the consequences. However, if I am given a second chance, I won't need a third chance. 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 second chances in the world of baseball."
It's difficult to equate violence against women as some sort of degenerate hobby that a guy just happens to do for fun, like drinking or recreational drug use. It's not exactly the same thing as downing half a bottle of whiskey or doing lines of cocaine after a ballgame. The fact that Rose lumps all of these things as though they have an equal severity is certainly troubling. But if you get past that flawed reasoning, Rose's argument itself isn't inherently incorrect.
Players who were known alcoholics, drug addicts and generally dishonorable people have certainly found their way into the Hall of Fame, let alone finding other roles within the fabric of Major League Baseball. Yet Rose's lifetime ban from baseball in 1989 has remained, even though it hasn't been proven that he ever bet against his team when managing the Cincinnati Reds. Unlike many players from baseball's steroid era, Rose's statistics and ability as a player have never been questioned.
For The Win's Ted Berg interviewed Rose in Cooperstown last month, when Rose discussed the issue at even greater length. His experience is worth revisiting if you haven't already read it.
"It's not all altar boys in there," Rose told For The Win at the time.
Rose is entirely correct in that regard, but at this point it seems like it's his personality, not his offense that keeps him on baseball's blacklist.
The same stubborn, abrasive qualities that made him such a beloved player in Cincinnati and Philadelphia have not served to make him much of a sympathetic character. He's been banned from baseball for nearly 24 years, but it took him almost 15 of them to even admit that he bet on games he managed. Now he's pleading his case by alluding that he wouldn't be viewed as such a bad guy in the sport's eye had he just smacked around the women in his life.
That's not going to help him get that second chance.