Stop Making Me Defend Pete Rose!

Pete Rose, baseball’s all-time hit leader who received a lifetime (and justified) ban from baseball for betting on games while a manager, was my very first Ethics Dunce, way back in January of 2004, on the old Ethics Scoreboard. Since then Pete has come up here often, with a thick and varied ethics dossier. The man is a slimeball; there is no disputing it. He knowingly violated baseball’s most inviolate rule; he lied about it in more than one way; he ended up in jail for defrauding the IRS; he has attempted multiple schemes to cash in on his own misconduct. Rose is the poster boy for the King’s Pass: he assumed that rules and laws didn’t apply to him because he was a Great and Beloved Player. Yes, he was a great, beloved, unique and entertaining player, but Pete Rose wouldn’t know an ethical value if it were nailed to his forehead.

And yet…the most recent attack on Rose’s character is contrived and unfair.

Yesterday, Pete Rose was attending a celebration in Philadelphia of the 1980 World-Series-winning Phillies team on which he plyed a key role. A female reporter for The Philadelphia Inquirer asked him about an old 1970s accusation by a woman that he had sex with her when she was under 16.

Rose, quite reasonably, deflected the question, saying, “No, I’m not here to talk about that. Sorry about that. It was 55 years ago, babe.” He was a bit more impatient when another reporter brought up the incident later, saying, “I’m going to tell you one more time. I’m here for the Philly fans. I’m here for my teammates. I’m here for the Phillies organization. And who cares what happened 50 years ago? You weren’t even born. So you shouldn’t be talking about it, because you weren’t born.”

Rose allegedly had a relationship with a teenage girl in Cincinnati for several years starting in 1973. She claimed this occurred before she had turned 16, which was below the age of consent at the time in Ohio. Pete was married during this tryst, 33-years-old with two kids. His defense was that he didn’t know she was under 16, which was hardly ennobling. For some reason, this incident among all of Pete’s slimefests was focused upon by reporters as making “Charlie Hustle” unworthy of appearing on the field with the rest of his 1980 team mates. #MeToo, I guess. The reason Pete should not have been on that field is that he was banned from baseball, but if the Phillies invited him and he came, he should have been allowed to enjoy the day without having his metaphorical dirty sweat socks rubbed in his face.

Now his non-answers are being criticized. How dare he call a woman “babe” in this enlightened day and age? Pete is now 81, and has proven beyond all doubt that he has a flat learning curve. Pete Rose doesn’t mean anything when he calls a woman “babe,” and he isn’t hurting anyone either. If ever the Julie Principle applied, this is it.

As for his second response to a reporter trying to embarrass him: “Who cares what happened 50 years ago?” is ethically obtuse, but Rose is ethically obtuse and everybody knows it. He’s also not very smart: “you shouldn’t be talking about it, because you weren’t born” is typical PeteThink—dumb. What’ the man is supposed to be smarter in his eighties? Getting Pete Rose to say something impolitic, offensive or politically incorrect is hardly worthy of a Pulitzer: in another interview yesterday, Rose used the terms “cock high” and “no shit” on live television. It’s silly to mock him with the “Anchorman” catch phrase “Stay classy,” because Rose isn’t classy, has never pretended to be classy, and couldn’t be classy if he tried. He’s a creep. The fact that he’s a creep isn’t news, and complaining that he’s a creep at this point approaches elder abuse.

Even creeps deserve to be treated decently, though they treat others badly as a lifetime pattern.

4 thoughts on “Stop Making Me Defend Pete Rose!

  1. Nah, only creeps who fought hard for the right of a woman to kill her gestating child because it’s inconvenient (ime. Clinton) deserve to be treated decently. Anyone else, forget it, the media is going to catch up to you and make an example of you.

  2. Even creeps deserve to be treated decently, though they treat others badly as a lifetime pattern.

    Not in the age of Trump. All creeps are now Donald Trump, just like all the restaurants in Demolition Man were Taco Bell.

  3. Re: “Babe.” I have a late former colleague, perhaps 15 years or so my senior, who called literally everyone “Babe.” If he was talking to you and only you, you were Babe. His best friend: Babe. Someone he just met: Babe. Someone older than him: Babe. Someone younger: Babe. Male: Babe. Female: Babe. His boss: Babe. His student: Babe. Of course, if there were three or more of you, you were “Gang.”
    I made a rather exhausting road-trip from TX to NH and back a couple of weeks ago. I’d guess that well over half of the waitresses and female hotel desk clerks I encountered in five or six states I passed through called me some variation on “Sweetie,” “Sugar,” or “Honey.” I even got one “Darlin.'” Some of these folks were very attractive young women about a third my age. Curiously enough, I was neither flattered not offended by these appellations. Go figure.

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