Baseball Crank
Covering the Front and Back Pages of the Newspaper
March 16, 2007
BASEBALL/WAR: True Confessions

Been busy doing baseball stuff with my free time instead of posting, but here's a quick thought: there's a common thread in the recent confessions of Pete Rose (who admitted betting on the Reds every day) and Khalid Sheikh Muhammad (who started off confessing to terror plots and ended by admitting responsibility for everything but killing JonBenet and shooting J.R.).

Ordinarily, we view confessions as credible because, in legal parlance, they are against interest - you usually don't confess falsely (unless you are crazy or seeking attention) to something bad.

Here, though, there are reasons to suspect that both men might be overstating their culpability for reasons strategic. In Rose's case, a manager betting on his team every night is actually less troublesome than betting on them selected nights, for a variety of reasons ranging from more even and rational use of his pitching resources (i.e., not burning out his pitchers one night to the detriment of a game he's not betting on, or resting Eric Davis when he has no money on the line) to not signalling other gamblers by his selections. Of course, Rose used his bullpen as if he had money riding on every game, to the arguable detriment of the team. (More on Rose here from back in 2000 when I was still in the BIll James-influenced camp of Dowd Report critics - although I still stand by the analysis of why Rose belongs in Cooperstown).

In Muhammad's case, the incentive issue is a different one - he's been held in sufficient isolation for long enough that he really can't have any idea which of his fellow jihadists have been captured and which have not, so it's in his interests - given that he knows we know enough about his culpability to hold him indefinitely anyway - to claim as large a role as he can for himself and by doing so avoid implicating additional people who might be at large, beyond those he's already given up.

Posted by Baseball Crank at 12:16 PM | Baseball 2007 • | War 2007-14 | Comments (16) | TrackBack (0)

I think Sheikh Muhammad would say anything if he thought it would get him a clean t-shirt. But seriously, both good points Crank.

Posted by: PatrickG at March 16, 2007 1:57 PM

According to Murray Chass, Rose did NOT bet on games when Bill Gullickson was pitching, which, if true, and I'll never believe a word Rose says, sent a signal to the bookies. Also, how many games off Eric Davis' career did Rose cost him by playing him when he needed a rest.

Posted by: Daryl Rosenblatt at March 16, 2007 2:18 PM

Pete Rose deserves to be in the HOF because of his on the field activities. Love him or hate him (I hate him), he is the best hitter of all-time and should be recognized.

Rose has stated in the past that being in the HOF is not as important to him as being able to work in baseball. I believe allowing him to be inducted into the Hall, but keeping him from being involved with a team in any way would serve the dual purpose of allowing his accomplishments to be recognized while keeping deserved punishment in place.

Posted by: maddirishman at March 16, 2007 2:31 PM

Another Rose debate, in or out? It will never end of course. He's one of the best players we've ever seen, and also one of those players who made his teams so much better. But if we look at it like a citizen convicted of a felony, even after serving jail time, there are basic civil rights that you can lose, such as the right to vote.

Rose of course forfeited the right to ever work in organized baseball by breaking the murder 1 of sports: he gambled, and on his own team. That's capital punishment, and that means out of baseball in it's entirety. So while I would always want him to play for me, if he's out, then he certainly has to be out of the game's highest honor. I wouldn't trust him to lay down the foul lines; I would let him sweep up the stadium after the game though, and maybe he could clean Shea's bathrooms (now that's punishment).

Posted by: Daryl Rosenblatt at March 16, 2007 3:07 PM

Pete Rose should be in the HOF but not allowed to work in baseball. Best hitter of all-time? He has the most hits but c'mon. I mean he was a great, great player but he was a singles hitter for the most part. For career stats, unless they are compilation stats, he is not in the top-10, 20 or 50 of the significant ones. Not saying PR was not great and not a bastard to play against but he is not in any way, shape or form the greatest hitter of all time.

Posted by: jim at March 16, 2007 3:58 PM

Rose didn't bet when Gullickson pitched? I wonder how Gullickson feels about this? Probably not too good.

Posted by: steve at March 16, 2007 5:24 PM

Pete Rose should be in the HOF but not allowed to work in baseball.

Ding, ding, ding. We have a winner.

Posted by: Mike at March 16, 2007 5:53 PM

Pete Rose in the HOF? NEVER! If you ever visit the hall, stand among the statues, see the kids look at the players with adoration; you would never want your kid to look up to Rose. Betting on your own team which you are managing-banished for life! Why if they would not let Ty Cobb on the field in the Field of Dreams, now way Rose get to play either.

Posted by: Lee at March 16, 2007 7:06 PM

"he's been held in sufficient isolation for long enough that he really can't have any idea which of his fellow jihadists have been captured and which have not"

You think so? I just take it as a given that there is a line around the corner of elite American lawyers tripping over themselves to feed KSM information and "pro bono" legal assistance.

Posted by: Keith L. at March 16, 2007 11:46 PM

A gambling friend of mine said that "he & all the gamblers he knew" thought & still think that Rose's not betting on his own team's (Reds) games would not send any message to gamblers. Their reasoning: everyone knew that Rose was hooked on gambling beyond reason (as opposed to my friend, I guess) & so no gambler would pay attention to his betting habits.

I reminded him of the Sherlock Holmes story about the dog that didn't bark, but my friend is analogy impaired.

I also told him that the arbitrators here obviously felt that some poor stupid slob who was not as gambling savvy as my friend claims to be might be enticed into following Pete's Reds' gambling pattern, but that went over his head.

I also asked my friend if he ever read any history about spies who watched their prey & judged what might be happening from said prey's inactivity as well as his activity? More analogy-impaired comments.

I even sent him the Wikipedia article explaining this point, but he reminded me that Wikipedia articles can be written by anyone. I suggested then that he or Rose's attorney rewrite the Wikipedia article.

Mercifully, we've dropped the subject.

Posted by: From Inwood at March 17, 2007 1:11 AM

As a singles hitter and defensive liability (for the second half of his career) Rose is probably the most over-rated player in baseball history. As much as his gambling on baseball requires that he barred forever, it was the way he pursued the all-time hits record which offends me even more.

As manager of the Reds, he sacrificed his team's chances to finish first by chasing a record. A singles hitter at 1B was such a huge liability it was just too much for any team to overcome (and by the time he got the record, he wasn't even a good singles hitter). The team finished second because of him.

A player should only be on the field because he gives his team the best chance to win the game. When that is no longer true, he doesn't belong on the field. Ever. For a manager to sacrifice his team in a pennant race in order to pursue his own record is unforgiveable. It makes a travesty of the game.

Perhaps even more than his gambling on baseball, Pete's selfishness as a manager shows his disdain for the integrity of the game. He is a disgrace in every way imaginable.

And he was a cheap shot artist (see Harralson, Fosse). He taught kids all the wrong things about hustle. Hustle is doing things to win the game. Sprinting down to first after a walk is pure showboat -- it does nothing to help your team win (as opposed to say backing up a teammate or running out a flyball).

I can't think of anyone more unfit to represent the great game than Pete Rose.

Posted by: stan at March 17, 2007 4:33 PM

Stan (and not the Man I assume), I don't like Rose, and have already said he doesn't belong. But he is possibly the most underrated player ever, not the most overrated. For years we heard how he maxed out his "meager" physical skills. Except he was big, strong, somewhat quick, and could hit Koufax, Gibson, Marichal and Seaver. I could practice for a century and not hit them.

Plus, his teams shased winning where he went. OK, the Reds might be the greatest team of all time, but the Phils needed him to seal the deal. As a Met fan, I have fond memories of Harrelson, but let's face it, Rose was there to win, and if Buddy even came close to his way, too bad.....

And as for backing up a teammate, well, remember that little play in foul territory when he was playing first in Phillie? What was he doing? Backing up. He was a brilliant, talented baseball player, with an incredible baseball mind, and a disposition to gamble on whether or not he would draw a breath. he stays out of Cooperstown because he broke the supreme law of pro sports, not because he wasn't likeable, or even a liar.

Posted by: Daryl Rosenblatt at March 17, 2007 11:07 PM

Forget Rose. How about "shoeless Joe"? His lifetime ban ended in 1954 with his death and I think it is time for him to enter the Hall. He will not profit from anything!!!

Posted by: Joe at March 18, 2007 7:06 AM

"No compromise with the main purpose, no peace till victory, no pact with unrepentant wrong."

although I still stand by the analysis of why Rose belongs in Cooperstown).

Crank, which is it?

Posted by: Carey at March 18, 2007 10:49 AM

Yeah, slamming his forearm into little Buddy's head after the play was over was all about winning. And the iron pipe to Nancy's knee was all about Tonya wanting to win.

Posted by: stan at March 18, 2007 12:45 PM

Pete Rose deserves to be on the permanently ineligible list. In 1990, the HoF decided that those on the PI list should not be admitted to the Hall. Why should that be reversed.

Personally, I want Pete to not be in the Hall, so when some kid asks his dad why the all-time hits leader isn't in the Hall, dad will answer: "because he broke the rules, and when you break the rules, there are consequences; and those consequences come down on you whether you have 4200+ hits, or just one hit."

Posted by: rbj at March 20, 2007 10:19 AM
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