With baseball reeling thanks to the newest cheating scandal, there have been renewed cries to review the Pete Rose Hall of Fame case. While Rose will likely always remain Major League Baseball’s hits champion, his lifetime ban should be upheld and he should not be allowed to earn induction to Cooperstown.
Pete Rose Hall of Fame: The Scandal
As most baseball fans know, Pete Rose was banned from baseball in 1989 by then commissioner, A. Bartlett Giamatti, for betting on the game of baseball. Rose, who had finished his playing days three years prior, was serving as the manager of the Cincinnati Reds.
MLB used special counsel, John M. Dowd, to investigate the claims against Rose before making their decision. Dowd’s investigation detailed 52 Reds’ games where Rose had placed at least a $10,000 wager. Initially, Rose denied any involvement but accepted a permanent suspension from baseball. 9 days later, A. Bartlett Giamatti, father of actor Paul Giamatti, would suddenly pass away from a heart attack.
At the time, no evidence was found that Rose had ever wagered against the Reds but it wasn’t fully determined that he also bet on his team. The man known as Charlie Hustle would seek reinstatement under the reigns of Fay Vincent, Bud Selig, and Rob Manfred but each case was denied.
In 2004, nearly 16 years after his banishment, Rose would eventually give a public announcement detailing his guilt. In 2015, Manfred stated that Rose did not have “a mature understanding of his wrongful conduct” and the damage it had done to the game.
Pete Rose Hall of Fame: Reasons to Uphold the Ban
Traditionally, supporters of the Pete Rose Hall of Fame case use a mix of his stats, the fact that it is believed he was betting for his team, and other cheating scandals as the reasons for Rose to make it to Cooperstown. There is no arguing that statistically, Rose was one of the very best to play the game of baseball. His hits record will never be touched and the highest active player, Albert Pujols, is just under 1,000 hits away.
Pete Rose Hall of Fame: Betting on the Reds
While admitting to betting on games, Rose proclaimed that he never bet against his team. As a result, supporters will argue that his gambling didn’t impact the games. However, we, unfortunately, don’t know what we can fully believe. Can the man who furiously denied allegations for 15 years really be trusted with telling the truth? Furthermore, just because he was betting on the Reds doesn’t mean he was doing things for short-term personal gains instead of long-term winning.
For a minute, picture this type of situation happening today. The San Diego Padres are hosting the lowly Arizona Diamondbacks and find themselves down 2-1 going into the bottom of the 9th. During the top of the inning, Fernando Tatis Jr. feels a strain in his hamstring. He informs his manager and the trainers who discuss the situation. The trainers want Tatis Jr. to be removed from the game for further testing, while the manager, who has at least $10,000 on the game, realizes Tatis Jr. is set to leadoff the inning. Against the advice of the training staff, the manager decides to let Tatis Jr. hit.
While Tatis Jr. is known for the long ball, he is also known as a player willing to leave it all on the field. He gets fooled on a pitch that trickles up the third baseline and runs as fast as he can to beat the throw. As a result, he puts more tension on his hamstring and seriously injures himself.
What if the Mets’ kept Jacob deGrom in an extra inning after he had thrown well over 100 pitches? Their are many situations that happen every day where managers have to weigh short-term gains over long term goals, and having significant money involved may lead to a dangerous decision.
Pete Rose Hall of Fame: Steroids, Video Cameras and Foreign Substances
The other main argument used is how other cheating scandals have resulted in questionable decision-making by MLB. The late 1990s into the 2000s will forever be known as the steroid era, the 2017 Houston Astros were found to have used cameras in an elaborate sign-stealing scandal and it seems like every team has at least one (probably more) pitcher using a foreign substance while on the mound.
However, these scandals arose from gray-areas in MLB’s rule book and were more systematic issues that need to be addressed internally by the sport. The steroid-era was able to form due to MLB largely not testing players for performance enhancing drugs and didn’t ban them until 1991. They would wait until 2003 to actually start enforcing the rule. Meanwhile, it has been claimed that players had used different performance enhancing substances since the early 1900s. It has been claimed that Babe Ruth tried sheep testicles while Mike Schmidt admitted to using amphetamines.
Meanwhile, the use of foreign substances to gain an advantage has been around since the beginning of the sport. The infamous spitball was banned in 1919 and pitchers have been using other substances ever since. Famously, Michael Pineda was suspended 10 games for using pine tar in 2014.
Finally, the 2017 Astros became the first team caught using video cameras to steal signs and were quickly joined by the Red Sox. It has been speculated the list is a lot longer with every team rumored to be somewhat involved in trying to gain a competitive advantage.
In all of these situations, baseball allowed a problem to get out of hand before stepping in and laying down the law. Meanwhile, Rose broke a clearly defined rule that was known by everyone involved in baseball. Famously, Shoeless Joe Jackson and the 1919 Chicago White Sox set the precedent for gambling on the sport.
If Rose was simply given a slap on the wrist, what would stop other players from gambling on the game?
Pete Rose Hall of Fame: Lack of Regret
Perhaps the biggest knock against the Pete Rose Hall of Fame case has been his behavior around the entire scandal. For the first 15 years he continuously denied betting on the game. Then in 2004, he wrote a book on it and only admitted to it when he was able to make financial gains.
Meanwhile, he was arrested in 1990 on tax evasion for not filing taxes on winnings from horse racing. Rose would also be accused of statutory rape and admitted to a sexual relationship with a 16-year old (the age of consent in Ohio) when he was 34. The allegations would result in the Phillies canceling the addition of Rose to their Wall of Fame and the loss of multiple endorsement deals.
At the end of the day, Rose picked his priorities and has to live with the consequences.
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