He Said, He Said: The “Hustle” of Pete Rose

Here, we continue with the beloved FLOOD column, in which the titular “He” converses/argues with the titular…additional “He,” in this case, about a pressing cultural issue in the preferred forum of cultural enthusiasts everywhere: the Gmail G-chat.

Today’s subject: All-time MLB hits leader Pete Rose and his attempts to keep himself out of the Baseball Hall of Fame.

Just ahead of the upcoming All-Star Game in Cincinnati, and amongst incessant talks to drop Rose’s lifetime ban for gambling, Major League Baseball and their team of spy satellites dropped a new bombshell this week, releasing paperwork that implicates the Reds legend in officially, definitely, and once and for all betting on games that he participated in as a player, as opposed to just as a manager. Rose has denied all allegations from the outset (and caved one step at a time as his alibis have fallen apart), so while the news isn’t surprising in and of itself, its timing in advance of his supposed appearance at the upcoming festivities is. And with a pending meeting scheduled with Commissioner Rob Manfred about his reinstatement, it’s not looking good for ol’ Charlie Hustle. Regardless of how MLB might feel, however, two of our FLOOD editors have some opinions of their own, for which they snapped some verbal towels in a little locker room talk to lay it all out on the table. Place your bets.

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Pat: I guess the best way to start is: Should he be in or out?

Nate: In. 4,000 hits. All you need to say. You?

Pat: In. That haircut. All you need to say. I think in this case it’s easier to make the “what he did on the field” argument than with the steroid guys.

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Nate: Absolutely. But to play devil’s advocate, his gambling was very likely affecting on-field performance, mostly as a manager. He could have pushed pitchers harder than he should, used players unwisely in the face of injury, etc., to get wins.

Pat: Have they proved that he bet against the Reds? (Doesn’t every owner want wins at any cost, though?)

Nate: (You might want to ask Bud Black and the Padres about that one.) They still haven’t proved that Pete bet against the Reds, but the way he’s backpedaled from day one, it seems inevitable. A real gambler knows that he has to play both sides.

Pat: Is that a Kenny Rogers line?

Nate: Got it from a Margaritaville bathroom wall, actually.

Pat: At Jurassic World.

Nate: Ha, exactly. Still waiting on the release of that alternate soundtrack… So if it comes to light that Pete bet against the Reds, does that change your stance?

Pat: Well, because (as of now) I don’t have an official Cooperstown vote to cast, I will say no, he’s still in regardless. Which may be unpopular, ethically, but 4K is 4K. But I also grew up in the geographical shadow of Cincinnati, and am old enough to remember watching him play. Barely. He was a hero.

Nate: An inspiration to kids with bowl cuts everywhere.

Pat: Soon to be surpassed by Lloyd Christmas, but I digress. I was probably too young to realize what a jerk he was, but to me he was just the best ballplayer around and for that, he’s in. As you can tell, I am a man of shady ethics and morality.

Nate: Pat, this might be a good time for you to address the rumors of performance enhancing editorial drugs…

Pat: My post-deadline garbage can remains speak for themselves.

Nate: At this point, it kind of seems like the reason Pete’s had such a hard time isn’t so much for what he did, but the way he lied about it. He’s like the Bill Clinton of baseball. And Lewinsky is the gambling. Which would make Linda Tripp the Commissioner? I have no idea where I’m going with this.

Pat: If Pete had made the “I did not have gambling relations with that team” speech quickly followed by a confession, do you think he would be in already?

Nate: Hard to imagine that anything would be worse than the way he’s handled it thus far. Though the Congressional speech route doesn’t look too promising for A-Rod.

Pat: Pete and A-Rod would make for a particularly joyful induction ceremony tandem, wouldn’t they? ROSEROD has the ring of a scandal in all the best ways.

Nate: I can see the TIME cover now. Along with Pete and A-Rod, just throw in Sammy Sosa and Shoeless Joe to complete the rising of the four horsemen of the MLB apocalypse.

Pat: Which of those four are most likely to actually get in the Hall?

Nate: Gotta be Shoeless Joe simply because of the nagging claims that he didn’t actually do it.

Pat: Plus all the good “Liotta” karma.

Nate: And for the record, Pete’s already in the Hall. The WWE Hall.

Pat: “LEEEETTTTSSS GET READY TO GAMBBBBBLLLLLLEEEEEE!” Fitting, I guess. I wonder if he won any money on wrestling bets. It’s not like he could have known the outcome in advance.

Nate: He swears that he only bet for The Rock to win the fights. You know, for a swindler as accomplished as Pete, I think we may have underestimated his dedication to the craft of gambling. I mean, his nickname has the word “Hustle” in it. 5-1 odds says he did all this to win a bet. “Betchu I won’t make it into the Hall.”

Pat: To quote Harry Dunne: “You can’t triple stamp a double stamp.” FL

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