Every sports team has that one player in its history that is sort of the identity of that franchise. One player who everyone recognizes as being a part of that team’s history. Someone who is known nationally, but revered locally. For the Chicago Bulls it’s Michael Jordan, for the Baltimore Orioles it’s Cal Ripken Jr., for the Dallas Cowboys it’s Roger Staubach. For the Cincinnati Reds, this player is Pete Rose.
Pete Rose is synonomous with the city of Cincinnati. He is the ultimate story of a hometown boy gaining national acclaim while playing for his hometown team. His name and number (14) have been sacred in Cincinnati since he first stepped into the major leagues in 1963. In 1989, while managing the Reds, Rose was accused of committing one of the cardinal sins for baseball players and managers: betting on baseball.
The eventual investigation revealed strong evidence against Rose and, although he vehemently denied ever betting on baseball, Rose was banned for life from any dealings with Major League Baseball. The ban meant no more managing, no chance of ever having his number retired by the Reds, and, worst of all, no chance whatsoever of getting inducted into the Baseball Hall of Fame.
While this conviction might have tarnished Rose’s image throughout the baseball world, in Cincinnati the fans stood by his side. After all, he made believable denials. The city wasn’t going to turn its back on their hometown star.
Last week, after 14 years of stubborn denial, Rose finally acknowledged his wrongdoing and admitted to the world that he did indeed bet on baseball while managing the Cincinnati Reds.
“It’s time to clean the slate. It’s time to take responsibility,” Rose said in a Thursday interview with ABC. “I’m 14 years late.”
I have to ask the question, what took so long for you to want to take responsibility?
Rose refused to admit to betting allegations for 14 years, and suddenly he is ready to “take responsibility” and better his image. Those 14 years of lies only made Rose’s reputation in Cincinnati grow larger and spread more rapidly. He became almost a cult hero for the entire tristate region.
With this admission, Rose did nothing to better his reputation in this area. He only proved to Reds fans that he is a liar.
Although he says he never bet against the Reds while he was manager, how can we believe him now? Does he expect fans to trust his word after we believed his lies for 14 years?
I will always idolize Pete Rose the player. I will never idolize Pete Rose the person. His style of play, determination, and hard work will and should be seen as the quintessential way to succeed in achieving your dreams. His lifestyle of gambling, lying and deceit should be looked at as the quintessential way of ruining a highly regarded reputation. Pete deserves a place in the Hall of Fame, but he shouldn’t be given any other opportunities in Major League Baseball.
He has put the ball in Commisioner Bud Selig’s court now, and there should be a ruling in the near future. Hopefully, Selig can make a decision that is fair to baseball without ruining the integrity of the game.