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?