It has been far too long since baseball has punished Pete Rose. It has come to a point where punishment no longer fits the crime.
Pete Rose is recognized as the all-time hit leader in the Major Leagues. Yet despite his accomplishments as a player, he is being punished for stupid mistakes that he made mostly as a manager. Everyone who knows baseball knows that Rose was never going into the Hall as a manger, not with his accomplishments as a player:
- 24 year career
- .303 lifetime career batting average
- 4,256 hits – most in major league history
- Three batting titles
- Three World Series rings
- One MVP award
- 17 All-Star appearances for five different positions (2B, LF, RF, 3B & 1B)
Rose has admitted to betting while playing and managing the Reds. He also states that he never bet against the Reds so there was no reason to throw games. If anything, he had more incentive to win.
Outside of the integrity of the game, who did Pete Rose hurt outside of himself and his family?
Is his gambling more harmful than players using performance enhancing drugs? You would think that would be more harmful to the integrity of the game. Yet Alex Rodriguez was suspended for a year and is now back playing with the Yankees.
Many players have done more harm to the image of the game with drug and alcohol use as opposed to gambling. Yet baseball allows those players back into the game but not those who have been caught placing bets.
Here are some interesting tidbits on players/managers/owners suspended for gambling and being reinstated as opposed to players/managers/owners being suspended for drug and alcohol use:
- Since 1865, 41 people have been banned (not suspended) for some amount of time, either for gambling or drug related use. This includes one umpire, Richard Higham in 1882 for conspiring to help throw a Detroit Wolverines game.
- Of those 41, 27 were related to gambling. 13 of the 41 were reinstated and only three persons banned or gambling related issues were allowed to come back.
- To this day, 24 people associated to the game of baseball have been permanently banned for gambling related issues.
- In contrast, only 2 players have been banned: Ferguson Jenkins in 1980 when drugs were found on his person on Toronto and Steve Howe in 1992 after receiving seven suspension related to drug use.
Both players were later reinstated. Jenkins was reinstated by an independent arbitrator and elected into the Hall of Fame in 1991. Steve Howe was also reinstated by an independent arbitrator in 1992 and he retired from the game in 1996 and passed away in 2006.
As a result, no player has been permanently banned from baseball due to drug related issues.
I am not attempting to minimize the effect of gambling has on the game of baseball or any major league sport. But what bothers me is the disparity between the rulings regarding drug related issues and those related to gambling. Baseball basically bends over backwards in their disciplinary actions when players are tested positive for drugs:
Failure to comply with drug or alcohol treatment program:
- First failure – 15 to 25 day suspension and/or a fine up to $10,000
- Second failure – 25 to 50 day suspension and/or fine up to $25,000
- Third failure – 50 to 75 day suspension and/or fine of up to $50,000
- Fourth failure – Minimum of one year suspension and/or fine of up to $100,000 fine
- Anything after the fifth failure, the level of discipline will be determined my the Commissioner of baseball
As for steroids or PED’s, a player gets 2 chances before receiving a lifetime ban. First time tested, 80 game suspension, second time, 162 game suspension.
There aren’t any such tiered suspensions in regards to gambling violations. Major League Ruling 21, paragraph D addresses gambling penalties as such:
Betting on ball games: Any player, umpire, or club official or employee, who shall bet any sum whatsoever upon any baseball game with the bettor has no duty to perform shall be declared ineligible for one year.
Any player, umpire, or club official or employee, who shall be any sum whatsoever with which the bettor as a duty to perform shall be permanently ineligible.
In other words, betting on a game where you don’t affect the outcome, you are out for a year; in games where you have any influence, you are gone for good.
Rose was never given the chance of tiered disciplinary actions such as players tested for drugs or steroids. And doesn’t drug or steroid use do more to the determent of the game than gambling does?
Besides, Rose gambled more intensely has a manager than he ever did as a player. Fair thing to do is to allow him into the Hall of Fame for his accomplishments as a player but don’t ever allow him to have any type of employment in baseball because of his actions as a player. And of the man wants to buy a ticket and watch a game, for crying out loud, let him.
Rose knows he disrespected baseball. But there is no one on this planet that loves the game more than he does. His style of play and constant hustle endeared him to fans and still does to this day.
Hasn’t Rose paid his dues? Isn’t it enough that because of his discretions, his life after baseball was full of turmoil and grief? Has he not shown enough remorse for his actions?
Baseball hierarchy needs to re-evaluate its stance on Rose. I believe Rose has paid his dues and it’s time to welcome the Hit King to his place in baseball.