Topic: Sports & Entertainment

Ethics Dunce Emeritus: Pete Rose

Pete Rose is never going into the Baseball Hall of Fame, but the Scoreboard must enshrine him in its Ethics Dunce Hall of Fame. Rose was the Scoreboard’s first Ethics Dunce three years ago, when he revealed in a new book that he had, in fact, bet on baseball while managing the Cincinnati Reds even though he had vociferously denied it for years. In the book, he attempted to minimize his offense by saying that he never bet against his team and didn’t bet on the Reds every game.

Oops! That admission proved a point frequently made by Rose’s critics. When bookies discovered that the team’s own manager, who happened to be a compulsive gambler, wouldn’t bet on his team’s chances, that was the equivalent of inside information that the Reds weren’t likely to win. If Rose hadn’t ensured the continuance of his ban from baseball by breaking its cardinal rule against gambling on games and lying about it for more than a decade, this news did. And Rose, ethics dolt that he is, actually thought that finally coming clean would make everything all better.

So after three years of thinking about it (Pete was a whiz at the plate, but off the field he exhibits intellectual acumen somewhere between that of Paris Hilton and Flipper), “Charley Hustle” has come up with another version of The Pete Rose Story. Now he is telling interviewers that he did bet on every game, because he just loved those darn Reds so much. Obviously, what passes for Rose’s brain has calculated that this version of events might get him back on the road to forgiveness.

Uh-uh. Never mind that all the betting records uncovered when Rose’s gambling was investigated showed that he usually passed on wagering when Red starter Bill Gullickson was pitching, so this isn’t even one of Rose’s more convincing lies. Rose has lied so often for so long, in interviews, on TV, in books and magazines, that he has forfeited all credibility for all time. His solution to the problems caused by one lie is to concoct what he thinks is a better one, and unlike some practitioners of this technique in politics, such as Dick Morris, Rose isn’t even good at it. Furthermore, he doesn’t understand the concept of ethics. Rose believes that he deserves to be in the Hall of Fame because he is baseball’s all-time hits leader, and that anything he does or says to accomplish that end is justifiable and right. Pete can’t fathom the fact that he is not in the Hall because his gambling established him as someone with no regard for his sport’s integrity and reputation, and his lying ( there was also the little matter of him going to jail for tax fraud) proved that he is more anti-hero than hero. Rose actually thinks that having to admit that he lied when his lie didn’t work should make everyone think of him as trustworthy … even when he’s still lying!

Well, Pete, the Scoreboard can’t help you; probably no one can. All we can offer is honor of being our first Ethics Dunce Emeritus. The distinction isn’t as prestigious as a plaque at Cooperstown, but at least nobody can say you don’t deserve it.

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