No, today’s decision on gambling has no bearing on Pete Rose

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I didn’t think I’d even have to go into this, but enough people have brought it up that I feel like I should address it, so here goes:

No, today’s Supreme Court ruling legalizing sports gambling has no bearing whatsoever on Pete Rose, his eligibility or his Hall of Fame case. None. Zero. Zilch.

“But wait,” the Pete Rose dead-enders exclaim. “Now that it’ll be legal to bet on baseball, how can Major League Baseball continue to punish Pete Rose for betting on baseball?! It’s not fair! Free Charlie Hustle! Loud Noises!!”

Pete Rose was not banned from baseball because he broke the law. Even though, yes, he broke the law in all kinds of ways and did time for it and stuff, which Pete Rose supporters tend to gloss over. No, he’s banned from baseball because he broke baseball’s internal rules about gambling on baseball. Those rules still exist and will continue to exist, even if all 50 states legalize sports gambling. Just as your place of work can make rules against you doing various things that are otherwise legal, the body that controls anyone who might employ Pete Rose can make rules which are stricter than the bare minimum provided by a given state’s criminal law.

And make no mistake: nothing is going to change with Major League Baseball’s rules about gambling for players, coaches, umpires and team officials. As we’ve covered in detail, Major League Baseball is basing its claim for an “integrity fee” of 1% of gambling revenues on the idea that it needs to police its people more, not less, to keep games from being fixed and whatnot. As I’ve noted in those above links, that’s completely disingenuous bull crap on Major League Baseball’s part, but while it is lobbying to grab that cash, it will do nothing to make it look like it’s more comfortable with sports gambling than it used to be, especially reinstating its most notorious living gambling-associated figure.

“Hey,” the Rose dead-enders grumble. “That’s hypocritical! Major League Baseball cannot, on the one hand. insert itself into the business of sports gambling by taking a cut from the casinos while simultaneously acting holier than thou about its players gambling!”

I’m sympathetic to that view, but if you think that changes a thing you really, really, really need to become more familiar with Major League Baseball’s work when it comes to hypocrisy.

This is the same Major League Baseball which is run by self-proclaimed hardcore free market capitalist billionaires who insist upon taxpayer subsidies, state-sanctioned wage controls and anti-competitive state-sanctioned monopoly power. This is the same Major League Baseball which reaped the financial rewards of Chicks Digging the Longball in the Steroid Era and then scapegoated the players for ruining the game by using steroids. It’s the league that constantly laments the fact that young kids aren’t becoming baseball fans and then goes out of its way to keep young kids from watching their hometown baseball teams.

You think playing footsie with casinos while keeping Pete Rose out of the game is going to be morally or ethically difficult for Rob Manfred? Please. Rob Manfred will light cigars rolled in gambling slips instead of tobacco leaves with $100 bills issued directly from the casino cage instead of a matchstick while simultaneously lamenting all of the damage Pete Rose has done to the game and the need to keep him banned. He’ll do that and he won’t lose a second’s sleep over it.

I get it, folks. Many of you love Pete Rose. Or at least you love the cartoon character of grit-spitting, hustle-loving, gosh-darn-it-I-love-baseball Pete rose certain members of the media have helped conjure in your romantic little heads. And I understand that you want nothing more than to see him, I dunno, managing a team at age 77? Running the Reds’ analytics department? But it’s not happening. He’s not being reinstated and, because the Hall of Fame has agreed to not put anyone on a ballot if they’re banned from the game, he’s not getting in the Hall of Fame either. Certainly not while he’s living and probably not while I’m living.

Sorry to be so grouchy with you about it, but we’re going on ten years of people being irrational about Pete Rose around here and 30 years of people being irrational about Pete Rose in general, and I just felt I needed to be firm with you.

Now, let’s go have a catch, OK?

Texas Rangers ink free-agent ace Jacob deGrom to 5-year deal

Jacob deGrom
USA Today
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ARLINGTON, Texas — Jacob deGrom is headed to the free-spending Texas Rangers, who believe the health risk is worth the potential reward in trying to end a six-year run of losing.

The two-time Cy Young Award winner agreed to a $185 million, five-year contract Friday, leaving the New York Mets after nine seasons – the past two shortened substantially by injuries.

“We acknowledge the risk, but we also acknowledge that in order to get great players, there is a risk and a cost associated with that,” Rangers general manager Chris Young said. “And one we feel like is worth taking with a player of Jacob’s caliber.”

Texas announced the signing after the 34-year-old deGrom passed his physical. A person with direct knowledge of the deal disclosed the financial terms to The Associated Press. The person spoke on condition of anonymity because the club did not announce those details.

The Rangers were also big spenders in free agency last offseason, signing shortstop Corey Seager ($325 million, 10 years) and second baseman Marcus Semien ($175 million, seven years).

The team said deGrom will be introduced in a news conference at Globe Life Field next week following the winter meetings in San Diego.

“It fits in so many ways in terms of what we need,” Young said. “He’s a tremendous person. I have a number of close friends and teammates who played with Jacob and love him. I think he’s going to be just a perfect fit for our clubhouse and our fans.”

Texas had modest expectations after adding Seager, Semien and starter Jon Gray ($56 million, four years) last offseason but still fell short of them.

The Rangers went 68-94, firing manager Chris Woodward during the season, and then hired Bruce Bochy, a three-time World Series champion with San Francisco. Texas’ six straight losing seasons are its worst skid since the franchise moved from Washington in 1972.

Rangers owner Ray Davis said the club wouldn’t hesitate to keep adding payroll. Including the $19.65 million qualifying offer accepted by Martin Perez, the team’s best pitcher last season, the Rangers have spent nearly $761 million in free agency over the past year.

“I hate losing, but I think there’s one person in our organization who hates losing worse than me, and I think it’s Ray Davis,” Young said. “He’s tired of losing. I’m tired of losing. Our organization is tired of losing.”

After making his first start in early August last season, deGrom went 5-4 with a 3.08 ERA in 11 outings. He helped the Mets reach the playoffs, then passed up a $30.5 million salary for 2023 and opted out of his contract to become a free agent for the first time.

That ended his deal with the Mets at $107 million over four years, and deGrom rejected their $19.65 million qualifying offer in November. New York will receive draft-pick compensation for losing him.

The fan favorite becomes the latest in a long line of ace pitchers to leave the Mets for one reason or another, including Nolan Ryan, Tom Seaver, Dwight Gooden and David Cone.

The Rangers visit Citi Field from Aug. 28-30.

When healthy, deGrom is perhaps baseball’s most dominant pitcher. His 2.52 career ERA ranks third in the expansion era (since 1961) behind Los Angeles Dodgers lefty Clayton Kershaw (2.48) and Hall of Famer Sandy Koufax (2.19) among those with at least 200 starts.

The right-hander is 4-1 with a 2.90 ERA in five career postseason starts, including a win over San Diego in the wild-card round this year that extended the Mets’ season. New York was eliminated the next night.

A four-time All-Star and the 2014 NL Rookie of the Year, deGrom was a ninth-round draft pick by the Mets in 2010 out of Stetson, where he played shortstop before moving to the mound. He was slowed by Tommy John surgery early in his career and didn’t reach the majors until age 26.

Once he arrived, though, he blossomed. He helped the Mets reach the 2015 World Series and earn a 2016 playoff berth before winning consecutive NL Cy Young Awards in 2018 and 2019.

But injuries to his elbow, forearm and shoulder blade have limited him to 26 starts over the past two seasons. He compiled a career-low 1.08 ERA over 92 innings in 2021, but did not pitch after July 7 that year because of arm trouble.

DeGrom is 82-57 with 1,607 strikeouts in 1,326 innings over nine big league seasons. He gets $30 million next year, $40 million in 2024 and 2025, $38 million in 2026 and $37 million in 2027. The deal includes a conditional option for 2028 with no guaranteed money.

The addition of deGrom gives the Rangers three proven starters along with Gray and Perez, who went 12-8 with a career-best 2.89 ERA in his return to the team that signed him as a teenager out of Venezuela. Young didn’t rule out the addition of another starter.

With several holes on their starting staff, the Mets have shown interest in free agents Justin Verlander and Carlos Rodon to pair with 38-year-old Max Scherzer atop the rotation.

Now, with deGrom gone, signing one of those two could become a much bigger priority.