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!