Pete Rose is diving headfirst into the other thing that made him famous.
The all-time MLB hit leader – who was banished from the league for betting on games as a manager – has taken a job offering sports picks for UpickTrade.
The Guadalajara-based tout service gained brief notoriety domestically when NHL’s Vegas Golden Knights made it their “Official Sports Pick Service Partner” in February. A massive backlash prompted them to jettison the deal in a matter of days.
UpickTrade launched in December 2017 and has more than 6,000 clients worldwide who, the company claims, “changed their perspective and are now making a living off of sports.”
The site charges $89 a month per league for picks, with signed Rose memorabilia awarded for lengthier commitments. Users choose either from pre-selected picks or peruse data to make their own.
Rose will make one to six picks daily with his son, Tyler, who has a friend in Cancun who made the connection with Upick executives.
According to the site, “Nobody knows baseball better than Pete” because of “inside game factors that only an expert baseball mind would know.”
The final enticement is to “grow your sport’s bankroll with the Hit King.”
Rose cited his daily television binging as one of the reasons he’s qualified to offer picks on a myriad of sports. He said he’s not worried about whether this job could negatively impact his highly improbable future Hall of Fame prospects, but just in case, he offered a distinction.
“By me working with Upick, I’m not hurting [baseball Commissioner] Rob Manfred. I’m not trying to show him up by doing that,” Rose said in a conference call on Wednesday. “I’m trying to make a living like everybody else. And yet they have to understand I’m not betting on ’em. I’m picking ’em. I’m not making a bet on the baseball game. I’m picking a baseball game.
“I’m using my knowledge to pick the game for whoever is working with Upick. And we want a lot of people to follow my track record. If it’s good, it’s good. If it’s bad, it’s bad [and] they’ll release me. If it’s good, they’ll continue our relationship. That’s the way I look at it.”
Pete Rose still entwined with gambling at 80
Rose, who turns 80 today, April 14, is the all-time MLB hit leader (4,256), a 17-time all-star, three-time batting champion and in 1989 became the first person since 1943 to be banned from the sport for life after the Dowd Report concluded he’d bet on the Reds. He signed an agreement accepting an indefinite suspension. Two years later, a new rule barred ineligible players from appearing on the Hall of Fame ballot.
Rose, his decisions and legacy continue to be the source of debate. Partnering with a tout service, while obviously of personal interest, will also likely cause a stir even as the sport that expelled him has now monetized the thing that led to his downfall. It shouldn’t, he said.
“For those people that are worried about the Hall of Fame, you have to remember, I got suspended in 1989. That’s 32 years ago,” he said. “So I’m not going to live the rest of my life worried about going to baseball’s Hall of Fame. If I’m never bestowed that honor, I’ll be the happiest guy in the world. But I don’t think me picking games – not betting on games, I have to keep saying that – me picking games for customers, in any way, shape or form, would ever hurt my opportunity to get to the Hall of Fame someday.”
Rose has lived in Las Vegas since 2003, and feels at home there, he said, because “you walk down the street, people aren’t going to say, ‘Aww, he’s a gambler. He’s a piece of s—.'” He’s derived much of his income from signing autographs, but said “the pandemic cut down on customers.”
Rose has applied twice for reinstatement to MLB, but by the rules he has no case when it comes to his banishment. He admitted to betting on Reds games – always to win, he contends – as manager, which remains forbidden in MLB Rule 21 (D).
“(2) Any player, umpire, or Club or League official or employee, who shall bet any sum whatsoever upon any baseball game in connection with which the bettor has a duty to perform, shall be declared permanently ineligible.
After moving away from Rose, MLB eventually moved to legal sports betting
Like other professional sports leagues, MLB went in stages from opposition to begrudging acceptance to full embrace of legal MLB sports betting due to the repeal of the Professional and Amateur Sports Protection Act in May, 2018. Baseball and its franchises squeezed tightly to the dollars that soon became available in the form of first official data deals, then sponsorships and partnerships. Rose doesn’t begrudge them.
“They want their fair cut, and they should be able to get it,” he said.
“It is partly society and the way it is as far as making money, and once these sports franchises or these sports, basketball, football, baseball, hockey, whatever it is, they realize that they get into the gambling business, they can make a lot of money,” Rose continued. “I live nine-tenths of a mile from the new Raiders stadium in Las Vegas on the same street. And they actually have a betting window inside the stadium. That’s how much they’re involved with gambling. Imagine halftime, people betting halftime bets, how congested it would be.
“But there again, if you’re in a business where you can accept gambling, and baseball for many, many years was hard-headed about not accepting it. Now I understand that because of what happened in 1919, but not everybody that plays baseball is going to throw a game. Baseball has to understand that. And then they realized that these other sports are taking in a lot of money because there’s a lot of money in gambling.”
Amenable local laws will allow the Cubs, Diamondbacks, Orioles, Nationals and White Sox – whose 1919 club infamously conspired to rig the World Series – can apply to open sportsbooks inside their ballparks.
For those curious, here's a look at the planned Wrigley Field Sportsbook (mini thread): pic.twitter.com/bC3QwJnZeA
— Michael Cerami (@Michael_Cerami) January 13, 2021
When the Nationals added BetMGM as an official partner in January, Alan Gottlieb, chief operating officer of Lerner Sports Group, ownership said in a release that “the BetMGM Sportsbook connected to Nationals Park will provide Nationals fans and the D.C. community with a first-class gathering place to celebrate their passion for sports together.”
That was a long fly ball from former Commissioner Bud Selig’s assertions in 2012 that gambling was an “evil” that “creates doubt and destroys your sport.”
Data as a commodity and the worship of “fan engagement” through mobile betting began to reshape those values within the ownership fraternity, but Commissioner Rob Manfred’s public stance two short years ago still had a ways to go. At the SportTechie State of Industry conference in February 2019 he said: “I think what you try to do is build in limitations around what the clubs can do so that mobile activity that is going to go on in the stadium doesn’t become all-pervasive. We’re a family entertainment product.”
And then: “If you have mobile betting available, it reduces the pressure you might otherwise get to have kiosks or betting parlors or whatever. If somebody’s doing it on their phone, you don’t know if they’re looking at their Facebook page or making a bet, and that may be a good thing.”
Legal betting inside MLB parks first occurred inside Citizens Bank Park in Philadelphia and PNC Park in Pittsburgh, but before and after owners and Commissioner Kenesaw Landis made martyrs of the undoubtedly complicit “Black Sox” teams humored sections inside their parks where illegal bets were openly taken.
It’s legal in a growing number of places now. And Rose is again looking to get back in the game.