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The McGwire-Rose comparisons make no sense

Jan 26, 2010, 2:20 PM EDT

ESPN’s Gene Wojciechowski can’t see why, if Mark McGwire is allowed to take a job in the game, Pete Rose is not.  Indeed, he spends a couple dozen paragraphs making that equivalency, culminating in this:

Yes, Rose betrayed the game by gambling on baseball. There’s no way
around that elephant in the middle of the dugout. But McGwire, Alex
Rodriguez and Andy Pettitte — admitted PED users — betrayed a similar

Look, we can argue all day about whether McGwire’s or Rose’s transgressions were worse in the cosmic sense, but before we do that, don’t the people in Rose’s corner have to at least acknowledge that, with Rose, there was actually a rule in place that specifically banned anyone who violated it for life? Wojciechowski makes no mention of it whatsoever. At the same time, don’t they have to acknowledge that there’s not, nor has there ever been, a rule doing the same for PED use?  Wojciechowski likewise fails to mention that.

Blame MLB for having uneven rules in this regard if you must, but there is no injustice being done simply because Pete Rose is being punished pursuant to the rules he violated and Mark McGwire isn’t being banned pursuant to some retroactive rule that a few sportswriters would like to enact.

Oh, and another thing: Wojciechowski repeats a charge I’ve seen over and over again recently:

McGwire issued a statement to The Associated Press and agreed to a
handful of sit-down interviews, but has yet to do a full news
conference (the recent six-minute fiasco in St. Louis doesn’t count).
Put it this way: McGwire hasn’t gone through the full truth car wash.

McGwire sat for an hour with Bob Costas and did interviews with Joe Posnanski, Wojciechowski’s own ESPN colleagues Tim Kurkjian and Bob Ley, every St. Louis writer who matters and several other members of the media.  If Wojciechowski is being serious when he says that’s insufficient, isn’t he saying that his colleagues did a crappy job?

  1. Nick Whitman - Jan 26, 2010 at 4:00 PM

    Yeah, you’re right, I think I’m just so used to the steroid discussion being based around the Hall that I just assumed. I could care less if some ball club wants to give either guy a job, I just don’t think they should be honored by induction.
    Just because I don’t think they should be rewarded doesn’t mean I think they should have to live the rest of their lives in seclusion and shame. McGwire might be a great hitting coach, he had an excellent batting eye. I’ve come to admire the Cardinals organization (from a distance, anyway), I hope it works out.

  2. Joey B - Jan 26, 2010 at 4:01 PM

    “The same cannot be said for Pete Rose, who might be able to manipulate games or share information for the benefit of gamblers.”
    I have no problem banning Rose, because he might’ve cheated to change the outcome of the game.
    OTOH, if someone cheats so that he can average 61+ HRs per year for four years, is that not changing the outcome of the game?

  3. reformed - Jan 26, 2010 at 4:10 PM

    both are cheats, idiots, and liars. Both should not be allowed near baseball. Pete the cheat willingly and of his own volition, with the benefit of counsel, accepted a lifetime ban from baseball.
    Someone with Pete Rose’s number belongs in the HOF. pete rose does not. hopefully mark macwire will realize he is a lowlife sleaze as well and just go away.

  4. Anon - Jan 26, 2010 at 4:10 PM

    I assume, Nick, that you’d be in favor of kicking Gaylord Perry out of the Hall of Fame. No one cheated more than him, and he’s celebrated for it. Or is there some cosmic difference between cheating by throwing a spitball (which is actually against the rules) and “cheating” by using PEDs (which, for most of the time at issue, was not against the rule) that I don’t understand?

  5. markfd - Jan 26, 2010 at 4:14 PM

    Geez…see my earlier comments on Big Mac’s critics…bottom line whiners! Get over it Big Mac went above your heads and went to a real journalist Bob Costas and said his mea culpas. Let McGwire teach hitting, as long as he is not helping anyone pop pills, apply creams, inject stuff then no one can criticize him.

  6. RichardInDallas - Jan 26, 2010 at 4:18 PM

    Aside from the nature of their infractions, the main difference between Rose and McGwire is that McGwire cheated to do better, and in the process helped his team, and Rose cheated only to line his pockets, team be damned. Both, however, cheated, and neither should see their own plaque in Cooperstown…

  7. Old Gator - Jan 26, 2010 at 4:21 PM

    Hi, this is Comrade Composite Sportswriter, appointed by the Commissar himself as head of re-education camps for PED abusers.
    Many people have asked me what really goes on in one of our camps, espcially the one we set up in the parking lot of Busch Stadium which we refer to affectionately as “The Village.” We always begin our re-education programs with a gently coerced “confession,” without which no PED thought criminal can be permitted to re-enter the sacred dystopia of MLB. It is traditional for members of the gallery to express their support for the inquisitional process by booing the inquisitors and the re-educators. McGwire was a problem, because every time we addressed him as “Number 25,” he responded by crying “I am not a number! I am a free man!.” Hahahahah. Grand inquisitor Rosenthal and his rackmaster, Pocket Inquisitor Clark, reiterated our demands that McGwire admit his unmutuality and confess to his crimes. The gallery expressed its support by booing Clark and Rosenthal and by waving their middle fingers in the air, which we refer to as a “shock wave.” Unbowed by this clear demonstration of public opprobium, McGwire nontheless insisted that he had nothing more to confess, and that he believed he would have hit just as many home runs without his lycopene and acai berry smoothies.
    Comrade Rosenthal demanded that McGwire not be permitted to teach batting to impressionable young rookies, no doubt because he is afraid that Big Mac will convince them that they can hit just as many home runs without performance enhancing drugs, vitamins or chicken soup. This, of course, is impermissibale as it would deprive our composite sportswriters of their scapegoats and, perhaps, even of the egg cartons they like to stand on. Pocket inquisitor Clark suggested rendition, but the re-educators took one look at Mac and instructed him to “rendition that gorilla yourself, asshole. And why not try to rendition Judge Holden while you’re at it?”

  8. Old Gator - Jan 26, 2010 at 4:26 PM

    He shouldn’t give a crap and my guess is that he doesn’t. Only sportswriters give a crap what other sportswriters write. A sportswriter trying as hysterically as Rosenthal seems to be to convince his readers that he has any kind of authority whatsoever is a lot like an American tourist in Paris who doesn’t speak French. He figures if he just yells loudly enough in English at the cab driver, the driver will eventually figure out what he means.
    Of course, what this tourist usually doesn’t understand is that every cab driver in Paris speaks English fluently, but would rather be buggered with a pinecone than admit it.

  9. Phil - Jan 26, 2010 at 4:30 PM

    The history of cheating in baseball, going back to the 19th century, has always been about attempting to gain an (unfair) edge in order to win. Whether it’s cutting across the infield when the single ump wasn’t looking, doctoring the ball. corking a bat, taking greenies to remain more alert or taking steroids, the object has never been “cheat to lose”. Regardless of the number of players cheating on either team, the game still had to be played to a conclusion. The outcome of the game still rested with the players on the field. Cheating in and of itself did not guarantee victory. So long as that remained, the integrity of the game remained.
    On the other hand, gambling in the game has always been about influencing the outcome to profit from (largely illegal) wagering. What a player or manager was willing or compelled to do in this light effectively removes the outcome from the competition on the field and delivers it into the hands of those handling the wagering. Now it’s no longer necessary to play the game since the outcome has been predetermined by those wagering and the actions they compel of players who are entwined in their net. Surely you can see the difference?

  10. moreflagsmorefun - Jan 26, 2010 at 4:34 PM

    Craig, why don’t you get it already, you are in
    denial just like McLiar and you are worst because
    you are trying to convince us McLiar is better than
    someone who hasn’t admitted or that he is just like
    A-Rod or Andy Pattite and he is not.He should man up!!
    He should just blame Canseco for sticking him with the
    needle whilehe was looking the other way.Why don’t you
    watch the bogus apology again, maybe you mis-remember too.

  11. Joey B - Jan 26, 2010 at 4:43 PM

    “Or is there some cosmic difference between cheating by throwing a spitball (which is actually against the rules) and “cheating” by using PEDs (which, for most of the time at issue, was not against the rule) that I don’t understand?”
    Yup. One rule is enforced on the field, subject to the ump’s discretion. It’s kind of like the batter kicking away the lines of the batter’s box for an edge. Similar to a batter stealing pitch location by peeking at the catchers’ glove. Kind of like a balk move to freeze the runner.
    Those are rules enforced by the ump, or not enforced. It’s like the difference between an offensive lineman holding a guy, and an offensive lineman using PEDs to bulk up to 400 pounds.
    At the end of the day, McGwire s/h had about 430 HRs. If he had 430 HRs, he’d be compared unfavorably to guys like Dale Murphy with 398 HRs, but a GG CF. It’s completely unfair to allow Mac in at the expense of a better player, for no other reason than he cheated.
    Again, if your son got denied a spot at Harvard, or a spot on the FB team, because someone else cheated, would you condone it?

  12. Joe L - Jan 26, 2010 at 4:43 PM

    Indeed. She’s a gem of a city. The stabber was (seriously) a quiet, unassuming chap who inexplicably lost control at the suggestion that Pete Rose was not, in fact, God our Father.

  13. moreflagsmorefun - Jan 26, 2010 at 4:44 PM

    I believe they were suppose to revisit that life time ban
    but Bart died- Rose was blamed for that too.- why else would he
    have agreed to it, he din’t have to.

  14. yankeeman - Jan 26, 2010 at 4:51 PM

    PETE ROSE ia one of the greatest players to ever play baseball. He gave his all 110% each and every game including when he ended a catchers career in the all star game. He is banned for gambling? WTF!!!! He is one of the greatest and baseball is losing a great Hall Of Famer. McGwire on the other hand took DRUGS in between the diamond and that is much worse. I say we just chop McGuire’s head off and stick it up his sons a*s. Mark my words come opening day McGwire will wish he didn’t come back to baseball.

  15. sjp - Jan 26, 2010 at 5:24 PM

    Taking amphetamines without a prescription has been illegal since 1970. Amphetamines allow one to focus better and be more alert. Following the logic above, that would disqualify pretty much every player that took the field since 1970 from the HOF. If every “cheater” and person lacking in “integrity, sportsmanship, or character” were removed from the HOF…it would be a very empty building.
    I’m still waiting for an explanation as to why people draw the line at steroids, with every other drug taken since the 1930s being just fine with them.

  16. cheaters justice - Jan 26, 2010 at 6:01 PM

    I don’t think many who realize things like greenies were prevelant are drawing the line at steroids. I think a great many baseball do not even know about the greenie use or read something like Jim Bouton’s Ball Four.
    I also think there are alot of fans out there who used or still use drugs ‘recreationally’. To come down on someone for greenies would be an indictment on their very own behavior. Same for the Sunday football pool bettor in Rose’s case.
    Alot are complaining about the other cheaters as well. But at
    least what went on between the lines every body had A chance to catch; if the players,coaches and umps missed something going on before their very eyes shame on them. And those players who did get caught already paid a price with ejections,fines and suspensions.
    And just like the caught spit ballers Rose knew baseball wouldn’t take kindly to his gambling if he got caught. My thing with Rose or the roider/greenie guys is that alot of their actions involved criminal acts and/or interaction with known criminals on criminal business even though how ‘minor’ it was considered. Crime in the name of sport.

  17. Bigheader - Jan 26, 2010 at 6:24 PM

    Pretty stupid remark. What Nick wrote was that Mark McGwire violate a Federal law. Baseball might not have had a law against using PED, but it was against the law. McGwire is a weasel. Stating he did it only to get healthy from injuries. I guess he did not notice the ball went further after taking the roids? If he was just honest like Rose should have been 13 years ago this controversy would all be over. Rose would be in the HOF and McGwire wont not be thought of as a giant weasel.

  18. john - Jan 26, 2010 at 6:31 PM

    The real issue to me, why would an organization hire a cheater? A known liar? What does that say about the organization’s standards???

  19. Joey B - Jan 26, 2010 at 6:34 PM

    “Following the logic above, that would disqualify pretty much every player that took the field since 1970 from the HOF.”
    Again, the logic is convuluted.
    1-Is there any proof that the batting stats spiked in the ’70s?
    2-Is there any connection to those taking speed?
    3-Is there any proof the speed was as prevalent as you claim?
    4-Can a player take speed often enough to improve his stats drmatically, yet still remain a player?
    5-Is there any proof that an alert batter has an advantage over an alert pitcher?
    6-Wouldn’t the advantage go to the pitcher, who can probably live amping up once every 5 days as opposed to a batter taking it every day?
    We know that McGwire cheated and we know his stats went off the charts because of it. You’re saying it is okay because maybe batters took speed in the 70s, maybe it helped, etc. How about mentioning the players that you’re sure were on speed and trying to see how it might have helped. The great players that I’ve seen, pre-PEDs, are guys like Schmidt, Bench, and Jackson. There are no spikes where they suddenly started hit twice as many HRs, and doing so late in their career.

  20. Jonny5 - Jan 26, 2010 at 11:11 PM

    The first time I ever wanted to high five a Yankee fan. Seriously though The HOF will never be complete without that ugly SOB Rose on it’s wall.
    Question for baseball experts……
    Since Rose got a lifetime ban, does he go in right after he dies?

  21. Jonny5 - Jan 26, 2010 at 11:13 PM

    BTW CRAIG! You should be whipped for that picture of Rose! He should always be remembered in a Philly uniform dammit!!!

  22. Trevor - Jan 26, 2010 at 11:25 PM

    Okay… This is completely different. Rose bet on the game which is a completely different thing than taking PEDs. Rose could easily throw a game in his favor to win some coin. McGuire on the other hand has always had the strive to be the best. Yes, it was VERY WRONG OF HIM TO TAKE PEDs and honestly I’m amazed the Cardinals are letting him work for them, but no matter what McGuire is still going to be true and driven to delivering the best possible game he can (from a batting coach’s standpoint). I still do not believe McGuire should be in the HOF, along with players like A-roid, Bonds, Petitte and even Clemens.
    Craig makes a good point as well with how there were given rules with a baseball ban for life for gambling on the game. Like a guy named Phil said before me, “…violation of 21(c) tears at the fundamental fabric of the game in ways that the use of PEDs doesn’t.” Essentially, you can bet against your own team and therefore you might have a lazy day. You can bet that the Dodgers won’t make the play offs and then pitch inside too much and bean their star batter. This does truly take away from the two best elements of the game… WINNING and HAVING FUN (for millions of dollars). PEDs, however wrong they are, still keep those two fibers true.

  23. Jonny5 - Jan 27, 2010 at 8:37 AM

    “Rose could easily throw a game in his favor to win some coin.”
    Well that’s strange because Rose bet on his team to win every night. So to purposely throw a game wouldn’t make too much sense would it?
    “The evidence of his baseball betting includes evidence that he bet on Reds games. The Dowd Report clearly states that there is no evidence that Rose ever bet on the Reds to lose. Additionally, it appears that Rose bet on the Reds every night that they played. During the time period that was documented, Dowd found only one occasion where the Reds played but Rose chose not to place a wager on the game.”
    The man was betting away his bat he broke cobbs record with, cars, and numerous amounts of historical baseball memorabilia. Doesn’t sound like he ever bet with intention to throw a game for cash. It just seems like he had a problem and did always bet on the Reds to win.

  24. redsfn77 - Jan 27, 2010 at 3:35 PM

    PEDs don’t “tear at the fundamental fabric of the game”? Seriously? Cheating is cheating regardless of who does it and how it is done. Pete should never again be allowed to be engaged in a baseball team other than be an ambassador at best. As a lifelong Reds fan, my opinion has been that he should be allowed to be in the HOF as a player (since he did not gamble as a player and his numbers are clean) and hence should be banned as a manager. The premise for the seperation can be traced to the very HOF voting. Baseball writers vote on players, the Veterans Committee votes on Managers, Umpires, executives, etc. If McGwire, Bond, Palmeiro, Clemens, ARod, etc., can stain an entire era of baseball (1990 – 2008) and excriment on the holiest of holy records, how can they be allowed in the Hall or eligible if Pete can’t? It’s another example of the hypocrisy of baseball. However, don’t say one is worse than the other because they are both equally shameful..

  25. jugatech - Feb 2, 2010 at 8:51 PM

    You must be from camden New Jersey the crap hole of america!!

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