Recently, Joe Buck had an interview with Pete Rose on Buck’s new show. Of course, the topic of Rose’s permanent ban from the game was brought up, and Rose basically said that he should be reinstated (big shock) because he was never told specifically to stop betting.
Now, a few facts:
- Pete Rose, devoid of all controversy would be a first ballot, near unanimous choice for the Hall of Fame.
- Pete Rose bet on baseball.
- Pete Rose bet on games he was associated with while player/manager and manager of the Reds.
- Pete Rose still gambles, although he doesn’t claim to bet on baseball anymore.
- Pete Rose lives in Las Vegas.
- Gambling is the one and only thing that baseball considers unforgivable. It’s posted in every clubhouse in every stadium at every level.
Now, I’m not a former player, nor do I have much experience with the game beyond a statistical and fan level. But, I do have a fairly well functioning brain that can determine when things don’t make sense. This is one of those times where it doesn’t make sense.
A factory man goes to work one day and is high (or drunk). The foreman says “You’re on probation, and if you don’t clean up your act, you’re gone.” The guy isn’t high (or drunk) at work again, but still gets high (or drunk) after work hours. One day he comes in for a surprise drug test (or runs into a coworker at a bar while he is drunk), fails and is fired. Why? Because the risk of it (him coming to work and being either high or drunk) happening again is too great.
I want to want Pete Rose back into baseball. I want to want him be a hitting coach somewhere, spreading his wisdom to younger players that would just soak it up like a sponge. I want to want him in the Hall of Fame.
But, I can’t. Rose doesn’t seem to understand that he has a problem, and not doing anything to help himself won’t put him in baseball’s good graces, nor will it help him get to a point when he could focus on the game.
I know a lot of fans want Rose in the Hall of Fame because he played harder than anyone and is the hit king. What they miss is that we cannot know beyond a doubt the extent of Rose’s gambling on baseball and its effect. He claims to have never bet on the Reds to lose, but is that true? He’s lied for the better part of 30 years, why would we believe him now? Also, if he did only bet on the Reds to win, did he bet on them everyday? Either yes or no, did that have an effect on how he managed each game? And, if he was as ultra competitive as his fans claim, why did he need to? Did he need the extra rush? If so, he isn’t nearly the competitor that he is claimed to be as winning wasn’t enough. If not, then why? Was it solely about the money? Would you want to play for someone that wasn’t interested in winning games, only winning bets and would flush your career down the toilet for a bet?
Rose isn’t eligible for the Hall of Fame as he is on baseball’s ineligible list. He should never be allowed to set foot inside the Hall of Fame. I know there are some gamblers and other poor examples of character in the Hall of Fame, but most of the ones who gambled did so before the Black Sox Scandal (and therefore before it was effectively banned from the game) or did so on other activities (like Hornsby betting on horse racing a lot), so it’s easier to forgive them. And baseball may have stakes in DraftKings or other companies like it, but as long as the players aren’t taking part in it, what’s that matter? A lot of fans that watch MLB take part in fantasy baseball or the like, and those places shouldn’t be allowed to profit greatly off of MLB’s players without them getting a cut.
The Hall of Fame shouldn’t have be a place that people get in solely due to morality. If so, it would be Jackie Robinson, Stan Musial and like six other guys in there. If people are jerks off the field (e.g. Curt Schilling), that stuff shouldn’t enter into the discussion about if a player belongs in the Hall of Fame. The integrity clause was put into the rules, not for moral superiority, but for the integrity of the game itself. Betting on baseball severely impacts the integrity of the game, as do steroids and PEDs. That’s the line that should be drawn in permanent ink, and that’s the line I hold to.