Last week Pete Rose made a case, however much he soft-peddled it, that given how bad the PED guys are, he should be considered for reinstatement. I predicted at the time that that talking point would come out of induction weekend in Cooperstown. And it did. Here’ Joe Morgan:
“Braun has $117 million coming to him and had to give only three million back. Is the risk worth the reward for cheating the game?” asked Joe Morgan. “Tell me how that works. We thought the Hall of Fame was going to be detriment enough for these guys. Obviously, it’s not. They’re still doing it. That’s because there’s so much money. Pete did a bad thing, I’m not saying he didn’t. He broke baseball’s cardinal rule. And he shouldn’t have taken 10 years to come clean. But he never cheated the game. Yet he’s out 24 years as opposed to Braun getting 65 games? That just doesn’t seem right to me.”
There was a time when there wasn’t a bigger threat to the very existence of baseball than gambling. For that reason, baseball implemented its most severe and most clearly-stared rule of all: gamble on the game, banned permanently. It is literally written on the walls of every clubhouse. Pete Rose knowingly broke that rule and willingly accepted the punishment.
Say whatever you want about PED users. Say they too should be banned permanently. Say they should be drawn and quartered and their heads put on pikes. But don’t suggest for one second that that has any bearing on baseball’s anti-gambling rules or its punishment of Pete Rose. Don’t suggest that it renders his behavior any less odious.
Pete Rose is seen by many as a sad clown now, but when he was suspended he was one of 26 baseball managers. He probably had more power over the day to day operations of the Cincinnati Reds than any manager in the game had at that time. While the story has come down that he only bet on the Reds to win that is not anywhere close to being firmly established. Conveniently, it is most often cited by people trying to excuse Rose’s behavior as an extension of his win-first mentality, forgetting that Pete Rose wanted to win at gambling just as much as he wanted to win at baseball and thus very well could have “won” by losing. It also is beside the point. PED guys take stuff because they want to win too. We don’t go any lighter on them because of it.
PEDs and Pete Rose are separate issues. To the extent they are conflated it is done so by people who are either ignorant of baseball history or who are banking on you being ignorant of baseball history.