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Pete Rose thinks Major League Baseball has to go out of its way to sell the sport.
In an era that Rose said features more home runs, more injuries and fewer superstars than when he played, Rose encouraged MLB to further embrace sports betting.
On Wednesday, his 80th birthday, Rose announced that he will provide exclusive daily baseball picks for subscribers to an online sports gambling site.
Rose said his connection to sports betting can help MLB engage with new fans. While Rose received a lifetime ban from baseball when an investigation by John Dowd showed Rose bet on baseball games, Rose said his new partnership with UPick shouldn’t tarnish his Hall of Fame case.
“For those people who are worried about the Hall of Fame, you’ve got to remember I got suspended in 1989,” Rose said in a media availability on Wednesday. “That’s 32 years ago. I’m not going to live the rest of my life worried about going to baseball’s Hall of Fame.”
Rose said he plans to use his insights from watching games every night to provide recommendations.
Since he’s “just a fan today,” Rose said his Hall of Fame case remains intact.
“If I’m ever bestowed that honor, I’ll be the happiest guy in the world,” Rose said. “I don’t think me picking games –– not betting on games, I have to keep saying that –– picking games for customers will not in any way, shape or form hurt my opportunity to get to the Hall of Fame someday. I’m not the only guy that’s ever made a bet in the world of baseball. I probably bet today less than any of them.”
Here are Pete Rose’s responses in Q&A format with answers edited for brevity and clarity.
What do you think of the 2021 Reds?
“They’ve got one of the better offenses in the league, and I think that’s shown the first week of the season. They’ve scored more runs than the 1976 Reds did, and we won the World Series and swept the Yankees. They got really good players. Every team has the same problem and that’s pitching. When you don’t sign Trevor Bauer, it’s going to hurt you. He pitched a one-hitter last night for seven innings with the Dodgers and won the Cy Young last year. It’s not easy for a team to fill in for a guy that won the Cy Young. If they get the pitching they think they’ve got –– they’re the experts, I’m not. I know the guys in the lineup will hit. I expect in that division for the Cincinnati Reds to really compete. I think they’re better than the Cubs and they’re better than St. Louis and better than Milwaukee. And you know they’re better than Pittsburgh. They should have a good year, and I think it’ll go down to pitching.”
What do you like about the way Nick Castellanos plays the game?
“First of all, Nick had to get it straight with the manager that he’s a good defensive player and don’t take me out of the game. That’s what Bell did last year when he took him out of some games, he said, ‘Hey I can play some defense.’ And he can. Now he hasn’t had as many hits in the last couple games, but he was off to an MVP start the first week of the season.
… I expect him to have a banner year. I just hope they keep winning because he wants to win. It’s amazing what a team that wins can do for a guy that wants to win. When you’re right in the thick of the lineup, he’s very important to that team. Now they leave him alone, they don’t take him out for defense because he’s a decent defensive player. No one likes to be taken out for defense if you think you’re a good defensive player, and I think Nick thinks he is.”
How will you go about picking a winner for a baseball game?
“Baseball mostly is all about pitching. Everybody in baseball can hit. Everybody in baseball can hit home runs today. Everybody can hit home runs off a good pitcher, and there’s not many good pitchers out there… You’ve got to follow the sport, not a particular team.
… Baseball has to go out of its way to try to sell the sport, to sell the players. It’s all about players and how players play and how players are popular and not popular. More and more every year, teams are starting to understand that. Every team has star players. But are those star players sellable to the fans? If they are, they’ll keep coming back.”
What are your feelings seeing baseball embrace the legal sports betting market after so many years?
“I’m somebody that understands what happened in 1919 with the Black Sox scandal. Why is baseball doing what they’re doing? Because of the dollars. Because there’s money in it. They’re not stupid. Football does it, basketball does it, hockey is starting to do it and baseball is starting to do it.
… Baseball was stuck in cement for so many years worried about gambling, but gambling is a big part of our country right now. Legal gambling, it’s something that’s there. It’s like your mother or your grandma going to play bingo. They go play bingo every Sunday because it’s fun and you can win. Betting on baseball, betting on football, betting on the Kentucky Derby is fun because you can win. But you can also lose. If you enjoy the sport and you want to bet on it, who cares? You're not hurting anybody, just bet within your means.”
How did this opportunity come together?
“I tell people this every day, I’m the best ambassador baseball has. Like Tony Pérez said one time, ‘baseball has been very, very good to me.’
… There’s going to be people who say, ‘how can he be in the Hall of Fame when he’s working for YouPick picking games. I have to say it again, I’m picking games, I’m not betting on games. I’m picking games.”
This article originally appeared on Cincinnati Enquirer: Pete Rose on 80th birthday: Baseball Hall of Fame case remains intact