Hypocrisy of MLB Pete Rose Ban
Early October brings us the Major League Baseball (MLB) playoffs. A friend who lives, eats and breathes the sport is in seventh heaven. Me, not so much.
It’s hard to believe I have faded away from watching baseball, considering it was my favorite sport growing up. I thought there could be nothing better, no dream more wonderful, than being a major-leaguer.
Of course, my personal interest in the sport aside, this time of year is a perfect occasion to question MLB’s continuing ban on Pete Rose for gambling.
Given the rush lately of baseball and other professional sports leagues to get in on the gambling train, to continue to banish Rose for his wrongdoing is just a tad hypocritical.
For years, I disagreed with fans who insisted Rose should be forgiven for wagering on the sport.
Having once read a book on the 1919 Black Sox scandal, I would always reply, “Then you have to let Shoeless Joe Jackson and other players in who were banned in the past for gambling.”
Everything has changed, though. As evidence I cite the recent cover story in Sports Illustrated headlined, “Wanna Bet?”
It outlined the many ways pro leagues that once declared gambling an unfettered evil have decided that if you can’t beat ‘em, join ‘em.
The dizzying pace at which this is happening gives one pause when it comes to the question of keeping Rose out of the Baseball Hall of Fame.
Just last year, USA Today ran an opinion column that said, “No way, Jose.”
Author Bob Nightengale noted that Rose’s attorneys had petitioned MLB Commissioner Rob Manfred for reinstatement after no Houston Astros players were disciplined in the infamous cheating scandal that rocked the sport. That followed a couple prior attempts with the league and Hall of Fame officials to see him allowed back.
“He came up empty each time and this will be no different,” Nightengale wrote. “MLB is never going to reinstate him, and the Hall of Fame isn’t to go against the wishes of the league.”
Yeah, but. The big “but” is MLB’s new embrace of betting on the sport. Once the Supreme Court struck down a 1992 federal law that banned commercial sports betting in most states, it was inevitable we would arrive at the sad place where we are today.
I lamented the decision when it was handed down in 2018, and I still do. I wonder how long it will be before a mammoth multi-million-dollar scandal erupts when bookies and athletes tempted by too many dollars fix the outcome of a major championship.
So, for me to argue that Pete Rose should be reinstated to baseball may appear a bit inconsistent on my part.
Yet, if there’s one thing I think should be evident, it’s that MLB can’t maintain on the one hand that it should keep the player who produced more hits than anyone who ever lived out of the Hall of Fame. Then, on the other hand, snuggle up to the gambling that has washed over the sports world.
To continue to do so would make Shoeless Joe Jackson turn over in his grave.