No, MLB partnering with MGM Resorts does not somehow vindicate Pete Rose

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Yesterday I wrote about how Major League Baseball and MGM Resorts have become business partners, with the latter being “the official gaming partner” of MLB.

While some people’s response to that has been about what the partnership means on a practical level, the overwhelming response has been “BUT WHAT ABOUT PETE ROSE?!!!! HOW CAN MLB KEEP HIM BANNED?!! HYPOCRITES!” For a sampling of that go here and here and here and here and here and here and here and then take my word for it when I say that that sentiment was repeated a MILLION times yesterday and into today. Even people who, you’d think anyway, would know the significance of a sponsorship deal are trafficking in this stuff.

Claiming there is some connection between these two things is dumb, people. Don’t be dumb. Because being dumb is dumb.

While there may be the broadest, most cosmic level of discontinuity between baseball going into business with a casino given its ban on players, coaches and umpires gambling, there is no practical inconsistency or hypocrisy or irony or anything else about it. This is because baseball’s ban on gambling was never, ever about gambling being some moral abomination that cannot be countenanced in any way. It was about the manner in which gambling compromised the competitive integrity of the game and thus imperiled baseball as a going concern. Players were gambling on baseball and cozying up to gamblers to throw baseball games. That had to be stopped and it was stopped. Full stop.

Yes, at times baseball sort of lost the thread of all of that — Bowie Kuhn’s ban of Mickey Mantle and Willie Mays for taking jobs as casino greeters in Atlantic City where there was not even any sports gambling was way out of line, couched in terms of bogus “appearance of impropriety and, I suspect, moral grounds — but it was fixed pretty quickly and acknowledged by just about everyone that it was wrong.

No such thing can be said about what baseball has done with Pete Rose. He was, by his own, eventual admission, gambling on baseball while he was the manager of the Cincinnati Reds. He also admitted that he bet on the Reds, the very team he was managing. There is likewise strong evidence suggesting that Rose bet on games when he was a player. A player or manager betting on baseball games is the absolute worst thing imaginable with respect to the integrity of baseball contests. That remains the case — and the rules against it will remain in place — whether or not Major League Baseball has a business partnership with a casino.

If you have trouble understanding this, let me give you an example that makes it more clear.

Major League Baseball has a business partnership with Anheuser-Busch. If Josh Reddick walked out to right field with a Bud Light Platinum in his mitt — fewer calories than a Budweiser, but still a decent ABV! — cracked that bad-boy open and chugged it just as the leadoff batter was digging in, the league would probably discipline him.

That one too close a call? Fair. Beer is delicious and refreshing, after all. How about this:

Major League Baseball has a business partnership with the Doosan Corporation, which makes large earthmoving equipment. If Whit Merrifield drove a Doosan DX63-3 crawler/excavator onto the infield at Kaufman Stadium in the bottom of the fifth inning during the nightcap of a doubleheader against the Indians (it rained the day before, sadly) and began to create a large hole where where the pitcher’s mound used to be, I suspect he too would be in some hot water with Rob Manfred. And that’s the case even if he said it was because he was building a swimming pool for orphans.

I know that a lot of you just friggin’ love Pete Rose and will defend him to the end of the Earth because, I dunno, your dad pointed at the TV one when the Reds were playing the Pirates during the Game of the Week back in 1972 or whatever and told you “THAT’S how you play the game, junior!” But please, use even a portion of your God-given critical thinking skills and accept that there is no disconnect here and that Pete Rose is, in no way, being done an injustice by MLB taking some coin from the Mandalay Bay sports book, OK? OK!

Good talk.

Swanson, Olson go deep vs Scherzer, Braves take NL East lead

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ATLANTA — Dansby Swanson and Matt Olson homered off Max Scherzer, lifting the Atlanta Braves to a crucial 4-2 victory Saturday night over the New York Mets and a one-game lead in the NL East.

The defending World Series champions beat aces Jacob deGrom and Scherzer on consecutive nights to take their biggest lead of the season in the division. New York, which held a 10 1/2-game cushion on June 1, faces its biggest deficit of the year with four games remaining.

Atlanta will try for a three-game sweep Sunday night, with the winner earning the season-series tiebreaker between the teams. Even though both teams are headed to the postseason, that’s important because the NL East champion gets a first-round bye in the playoffs.

Swanson’s 24th homer, a go-ahead, two-run shot in the fifth inning, touched off a frenzy among the sold-out crowd at Truist Park, the ball sailing a few rows up into the seats in left-center to make it 3-2. Olson hit his 32nd homer in the sixth, a solo shot into Chop House seats in right to put Atlanta up 4-2.

Austin Riley led off the fourth with a double and scored on Olson’s single to make it 1-all.

Kyle Wright (21-5) gave up two runs and seven hits with one walk and three strikeouts in five innings as he won his eighth straight decision. The Braves have won 16 of his last 17 starts.

New York went up 2-1 in the fifth when Pete Alonso, Francisco Lindor and Jeff McNeil hit consecutive two-out singles.

The Mets led 1-0 in the first when Brandon Nimmo singled, advanced on a walk and a single and scored on Eduardo Escobar‘s groundout. Wright, who threw 30 pitches in the first, stranded two runners in scoring position to prevent further damage.

Scherzer (11-5) allowed a first-inning single to Riley and a third-inning infield single to Ronald Acuna Jr., who advanced to third on a fielding error by Lindor at shortstop but was stranded when Michael Harris II lined out to center. Scherzer patted his glove and pumped his fist as he walked off the mound.

Scherzer was charged with nine hits and four runs with no walks and four strikeouts in 5 2/3 innings as the Mets were knocked out of first place for only the third day all season.

The Braves have won five of the last six against New York to tie the season series 9-all, outscoring the Mets 37-16 over that stretch.

Atlanta’s bullpen, which posted a 1.70 ERA in September, got a perfect inning from Dylan Lee in the sixth. Jesse Chavez faced four batters in the seventh, Raisel Iglesias faced the minimum in the eighth and closer Kenley Jansen pitched a perfect ninth for his NL-leading 39th save in 46 chances.

Since the Braves were a season low-tying four games under .500 at 23-27 after play on May 31, they have gone 76-32, tying the Los Angeles Dodgers for the best record in the majors over that span. They were a season-worst 10 1/2 games behind the first-place Mets on June 1.

Wright, the only 20-game winner in baseball this season, hasn’t officially become the first Braves pitcher to lead the league in wins outright since Russ Ortiz had 21 in 2003, but the Dodgers’ Julio Urias has 17 and can’t reach 20 before the regular season ends.

Wright will become the first Braves pitcher since Hall of Famer Tom Glavine in 2000 to lead the majors in wins. Houston ace Justin Verlander also has 17.

Wright began the game 1-4 with a 6.75 ERA in six career starts and one relief appearance against the Mets.

The Braves, who got homers from Riley, Olson and Swanson off deGrom on Friday, lead the NL with 240 homers.

TRAINER’S ROOM

Mets: All-Star RF Starling Marte (right middle finger fracture) has yet to begin swinging or throwing. Manager Buck Showalter said Marte is experiencing less pain but not enough to take the next step in his recovery. Marte has been sidelined since Sept. 7.

Braves: RHP Spencer Strider still has not thrown as he gets treatment on a sore left oblique. Manager Brian Snitker said there is no timetable for the rookie’s return. Strider has been sidelined since Sept. 21.

NICE GLOVE

Harris ran back and jumped to catch Nimmo’s fly against the wall in center field for the first out of the third.

UP NEXT

Mets RHP Chris Bassitt (15-8, 3.27 ERA) will face RHP Charlie Morton (9-6, 4.29) as the teams conclude a three-game series.