What your view of sports and life would be if you had too many concussions
Editor’s Note: As we head into baseball’s Hall of Fame Weekend, originally this article was intended to be another installment in our “Point-Counterpoint” series, but very early in the process it became clear that JFI and I were very much on the same side of the argument. That agreement required a retooling of this piece. JFI takes a point-by-point approach to the common themes of the usual arguments for the enshrinement of Pete Rose in Cooperstown. His dissection of those contentions is dead on…but it’s my blog, so I reserve the right to add some pithy commentary where I see fit.
By now, we all know a few months back when the 2016 Hall of Fame class was announced, Major League Baseball commissioner Rob Manfred essentially closed the door for good on Pete Rose’s induction. This is a decision I agree with 100%.
The problem is despite Manfred’s decision, there’s a debate which rages on about Rose in the Hall of Fame. I’ve never been able to figure out why all this support exists for Rose’s induction. I’m not sure if it’s people who are too young to remember the whole story, or if it’s older people having nostalgia for a guy they watched play. Either way, all the arguments for why Rose should be reinstated are all flatly wrong. I’m going to go through them one by one and demonstrate why Pete Rose should never be reinstated to baseball.
1) It’s been long enough. He’s served his time.
This one is easy to refute. The ban Pete Rose willingly accepted was for his LIFETIME. He knew the terms of the deal when he took it. So as long as Pete is still converting oxygen into carbon dioxide, he has not served his time. This isn’t a prison sentence. There is no possibility of parole. He got the baseball version of the death penalty.
Plus, let’s look at a few things here. Rose did have an appeal heard, and it was denied. Why? Because he’s basically flipped the bird at baseball for the past 25+ years. He still lives in Las Vegas, which is not a crime, but when you’re banned from the sport for gambling, living in a Vegas hotel where you pimp your autograph for cash isn’t exactly sending the best message that you’ve been reformed.
Oh, by the way, Rose also admitted that he still gambles! Again, that’s not a crime in Las Vegas, but this is like the alcoholic who claims he’s clean and sober from his bar stool. If being reinstated is as important to Rose as he claims it is, you’d think he’d want to distance himself from anything that even hints of gambling.
Editor’s Note: Pete Rose hasn’t served his sentence. His punishment is he never gets to stand on the stage and Cooperstown and give his induction speech. That’s what a lifetime ban means.
2) He didn’t bet against his team. It’s not like he threw games.
First of all, nobody really knows if he threw games. Second of all, that isn’t the point. Attempting the predetermine the outcome of games wasn’t the crime…placing the bets in the first place was. People should actually read the Dowd Report and see what all this guy was into. It’s full of evidence that Rose bet against his team.
Besides, you can bet against your team without actually betting against your team. Let me explain. Let’s say that while managing the Reds, Rose places a bet on his team on a particular night. On that night, he uses his 2 setup men and his closer out of the bullpen for a 5 out save. On the next night, he knows these guys are either going to be unavailable or not as effective, so he only bets $1,000. This tells the gamblers he’s betting with that he’s not as confident in his team winning, so they call their guys and say “Hey, Pete’s not going with his best guys tonight.”
It doesn’t take the FBI crime lab to figure out what a problem this is.
Also, remember those Reds teams he managed. Remember super-talented and often-injured outfielder Eric Davis? Suppose Davis goes to Rose and says “Skip, my hammy is a little sore. I think I should sit out tonight.” Suppose Rose has a huge bet on that night’s game. Now he’s making managerial decisions based on his own personal gains, and not in the best interest of the team.
Again, the problem here should be obvious.
Editor’s Note: Gambling is the problem, period…end of fucking sentence. Let us not forget baseball suspended Mickey Mantle and Whitey Ford, two of the game’s biggest stars at the time, simply because they had off-season jobs as door greeters at a casino. They didn’t place bet number one, but just because they were on the payroll of a house of gambling, Mantle and Ford got to sit for a year. Baseball’s hyper-sensitivity to gambling stems from the 1919 Black Sox scandal, which JFI covers in a bit…
3) What about all those steroid users? They’re eligible for the Hall of Fame…
This is easily the worst argument of them all. I’m looking at the Hall of Fame members and I don’t see the names Barry Bonds, Roger Clemens, Sammy Sosa, or Mark McGwire. I have other feelings about the steroid era, and those are for another time, but you know what I don’t have? Any positive tests by these guys…you know, actual evidence. Now, I’m not naive. I’m pretty sure these guys were doing something.
But you know what I do have, thanks to the Dowd Report? Actual evidence that Rose bet on baseball. More importantly, what Rose did goes beyond simple “cheating.”
Was Gaylord Perry cheating when he threw the “spitball,” which he admitted doing AFTER he was inducted into the Hall of Fame? Were players in the 70’s and 80’s cheating when they were popping amphetamines and snorting cocaine? What about guys who steal signs or cork bats?
The point is none of these guys exacted the damage on baseball that Pete Rose did. They didn’t compromise the integrity of the game. The one thing you absolutely cannot have is people thinking your competition isn’t on the level. Once that happens, you’ve become pro wrestling. Baseball almost died after the 1919 Black Sox Scandal where they threw a World Series. That’s the reason the strict gambling rules are in place in baseball in the first place. The integrity of baseball was so in question the very idea of having a Commissioner was needed to save the game.
Editor’s Note: That’s the big point in all of this. Guys who were taking speed, snorting coke, stealing signs, doctoring baseballs, and juicing were all doing so IN AN ATTEMPT TO WIN. Gamblers like Rose are’t necessarily interested in winning; they care about winning by so many runs or very possibly not winning at all. Not to mention I don’t give a fuck about “eligibility;” the steroid guys are never getting into Cooperstown as long as a bunch of self-appointed moralists in the writers are controlling the vote. That’s funny when you consider guys like Mark McGwire and Barry Bonds have jobs in baseball right now, and Rose never will.
Not to mention, this argument smacks of that same logic you used when you were a kid…you know, that “at least I wasn’t doing something supposedly worse” argument. It’s flawed, it’s factually incorrect, and worse of all, it’s just morally mushy enough for those who want to ignore the first two points to accept it.
4) Pete Rose belongs in the Hall of Fame based on his on-field accomplishments.
The Dowd report clearly establishes that Rose was gambling on baseball both as a player and as a manager. That’s important for one crucial reason. The Baseball Hall of Fame and Major League Baseball are independent entities. The Hall of Fame has it’s own rules since it is really an independently owned museum.
As we’ve already noted in baseball, gambling is the one unforgivable sin. The only connection between Major League Baseball and the Hall of Fame is the “Permanently Ineligible” list. The Hall of Fame sticks to the exile of anybody on the “Permanently Ineligible” list because that’s baseball’s equivalent of Death Row. Unless you get that reprieve from the governor, you’re gone.
That means the only thing keeping Pete Rose out of the Hall of Fame is the Hall of Fame itself. It could change it’s rules tomorrow, induct Rose and be done. But it won’t, because remaining on the “Permanently Ineligible” list is reserved for the worst of the worst, meaning those who committed the cardinal sin of baseball…gambling.
In other words, his on-field accomplishments don’t matter. He broke the one rule you can’t break. That’s why the rule about gambling is posted in every clubhouse in baseball. EVERY SINGLE CLUBHOUSE!
For all you “give him a second chance” types, there’s another small problem. Rose is on his fourth or fifth chance. Every new commissioner since Bart Giamatti banished Rose has been faced with this question, and Rose has done his best to make the decision easy. Rose could have dramatically improved his chances if every other time he applied for reinstatement he had been upfront, contrite, repentant, and at least TRIED to show that he was remorseful and changed his ways. But he hasn’t.
Rose not only committed the unforgivable sin of gambling, but he accepted the terms of his banishment. Now, I know we’ve been hung up on his admitting his gambling, but let’s be honest. He really did that when he took the deal. Innocent guys don’t plead to the death penalty.