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And now another edition of “Pete Rose wasn’t as bad as steroids users” theater

Apr 15, 2011, 1:00 PM EST

Rose horizontal

You knew this was coming, because it’s trotted out by someone whenever a big steroid user is in the news for something. This time it’s Paul Daugherty of SI regurgitating the semi-annual “Why should Pete Rose be punished more than steroids users” column.

Which is fine as far as subject matter goes, because I think it is worth talking about comparative punishment for those who break baseball’s rules. But it does strike me that if you write an extended column about Pete Rose, his ban from baseball and the Hall of Fame without using the terms “Black Sox” “1919″ and/or “World Series,” you’re not being historically accurate nor are you being intellectually honest.

Rules have consequences. But they also have reasons for existing. Any intelligent discussion of these matters needs to acknowledge the reasons for the rules Pete Rose broke and the reasons for his ban. Paul Daugherty’s discussion does neither and for that reason it is not intelligent.

  1. aronmantoo - Apr 15, 2011 at 1:06 PM

    Pete Rose didn’t cheat the game to pad his stats, Pete rosr the player should be in the HOF, “juicers? Absolutly not. Pete rose the man shouldn’t be there either

    • churchoftheperpetuallyoutraged - Apr 15, 2011 at 1:35 PM

      Pete Rose broke the one rule that’s posted in every clubhouse, and lied about it for years. Players like Arod/Bonds/McGwire took a substance that wasn’t against baseball rules at a time, and are ineligible? [note, we need to break up the guys who took before testing and after as there is a clear distinction]

      And don’t give me this crap about it being against the law of the US either. DUIs are illegal, so is Tony LaRussa barred from the HoF? Speed was illegal, but people from the 60s and 70s are in the HoF.

      • lbehrendt - Apr 15, 2011 at 1:52 PM

        church, the use of prescription drugs without a prescription has been against the rules of baseball since 1971. We may agree that baseball mostly ignored this rule for many years, and that the so-called “steroids era” is the responsibility of everyone involved in baseball. But the rule DID exist when A-Rod, Bonds and McGwire were using.

        Also, the DUI analogy is not a good one. A DUI is a serious offense, more serious in my view than taking anabolic steroids, since a DUI driver is a direct and immediate threat to the lives of others. But DUI is not against the rules of baseball — it is not “cheating” and it does not affect what happens on the field. Your amphetamines point is much better.

        I agree with the overall point you’re making, by the way.

      • bigharold - Apr 15, 2011 at 2:20 PM

        “…the use of prescription drugs without a prescription has been against the rules of baseball since 1971.”

        True enough but steroids and amphetamines have been in baseball as long as that rule. If Jim Bouton’s book is to be believed they’ve been there since the 50s and were practically institutionalized by baseball.

        What Rose did he did to himself. He was a mature grown up and knew the consequences.

      • bigharold - Apr 15, 2011 at 2:22 PM

        Clarification;

        Bouton only wrote about amphetamines.

      • Jack Marshall - Apr 15, 2011 at 3:26 PM

        The steroids were illegal without a prescription before they were banned. Banning was appropriate, but baseball doesn’t have to ban everything that’s illegal—the laws still apply to baseball players.

      • bigharold - Apr 15, 2011 at 4:04 PM

        I’m not trying to say that steroids weren’t illegal nor does MLB have to ban everything that is illegal. My point is that whether we are talking about steroids or amphetamines, both of which are PEDs, MLB not only had a rather cavalier attitude about enforcing that stipulation about steroids and they in fact provided amphetamines to players at one time. So, why would a player take seriously a rule that has no mechanism to test for or enforce compliance nor any specific consequence for it’s violation? More importantly, what MLB does with regard to to PEDs has no bearing the rule Pete Rose violated. A rule which has a long history of being upheld and a clear consequence for violating.

      • simon94022 - Apr 15, 2011 at 4:30 PM

        It’s easier to fuss over steroids if we think of them as something “A-Rod, Bonds and McGwire” were doing. The reality is that lots, maybe even most, players in the 1985-2005 era used PEDs at one point or another, and virtually ALL of them were aware of PED use by teammates — and said nothing about it in public, and apparently little or nothing against it in private either.

        The most irritating part of this debate is when people contrast Bonds and others with the supposedly “clean” players — when in fact we don’t know of ANY player who was definitely clean. When Bonds broke Aaron’s HR record 4 years ago, there was a lot of chatter of from the people who obsess over steroids about how wonderful it would be when a Clean Player like A-Rod broke The Cheater’s record.

        Oops.

        It looks like steroid use in that era was a bit like cheating on your taxes — in Italy, where almost everyone does it, it is widely tolerated, and there is little or no enforcement of the laws on the books that prohibit it. That does not make it right, but it makes it a lot less wrong than it would be in a different context, where the behavior is rare, clearly disapproved of by society, and subject to clear and severe penalties.

    • heynerdlinger - Apr 15, 2011 at 1:52 PM

      Actually, Pete Rose is one of the all-time stat padders. As player-manager for the Reds, he routine put himself in the lineup well after he was a useful everyday player for the sole purpose of increasing his career stats.

    • simon94022 - Apr 15, 2011 at 1:56 PM

      When anybody involved in a sport gambles or associates with gamblers, he sets himself up to be bribed or blackmailed into throwing games. That cheats the fans and risks destroying the sport altogether. That’s far more serious for the game than using steroids, greenies, spitballs, corked bats, stolen signs, or any other form of cheating to win. It’s potentially lethal to baseball. Crack open a history book some time and check out the 1919 World Series or the many point-shaving scandals that kept college basketball for decades as a third tier sport.

      • drunkenhooliganism - Apr 15, 2011 at 2:29 PM

        Simon- Are bookies somehow less ethical than drugdealers? Why would a bookie threatening to out Pete Rose have any more juice then a drug dealer threatening to out Barry Bonds or Mark McGwire?

      • lbehrendt - Apr 15, 2011 at 2:52 PM

        drunken, interesting point. If what you’re saying is that Greg Anderson could have blackmailed Barry Bonds to throw baseball games … you’re right. But this is true in any case where person “A” has damaging information about baseball player “B”. It would not be necessary for “A” to know that “B” broke a baseball rule, or even a state or federal law.

        I may be helping you make your point … we cannot require baseball players to refrain from all conduct that might provide an opening for a blackmailer. Still, if what we’re concerned about is players being blackmailed by gamblers, I think it’s a good rule to prohibit baseball players from doing business with gamblers. Yeah, maybe a determined gambler can find other means to use to blackmail players, but at least let’s make the blackmailing more difficult to accomplish.

      • simon94022 - Apr 15, 2011 at 4:03 PM

        drunken, it’s not a matter of drug dealers being more ethical than gamblers. When you get in debt to gamblers and either can’t or don’t want to pay, there’s a very easy way to solve the problem if you’re a ballplayer or manager — just help them fix the outcome of the next game.

        Obviously gambling with mobsters isn’t the worst crime a person can commit. It isn’t rape, murder or kidnapping (and neither is steroid use). But gambling has the unique ability to create a perception that games are fixed, and therefore meaningless and not worth spending money on. That’s what makes No Gambling baseball’s Prime Directive, and that’s why Rose’s crime was infinitely worse for baseball than anything the done by the hundreds of players who have used PEDs.

      • drunkenhooliganism - Apr 15, 2011 at 4:18 PM

        lbehrendt- my point is that it’s become such a talking point that gamblers could blackmail a baseball player that no one thinks that any number of drug dealers, gay lovers, jilted mistresses and Ponzi Scheme conspirators could also blackmail a player and pressure him to throw a game or an owner into making his team the laughingstock of professional sports.

        Stopping people from mingling with the criminal element is a great idea. But Pete Rose didn’t throw a game and never put up less than a great effort. In fact, he did less to harm the actual result of a game than Hanley Ramirez does every time Hanley loafs to first base or jogs after a bad throw.

        And yes, he’s still a scumbag

      • lbehrendt - Apr 15, 2011 at 5:58 PM

        drunken, like I said, I think you’re making an interesting point. There is something else to chew over, which is as manager Rose might try TOO hard to win a game he’d bet on. Y’know, he’d play his injured star before the injury had fully healed, or use an arm out of the starting rotation in long relief — something that might help his team in the short run but hurt them in the long run. As a general rule, we’d rather have people trying their hardest because that’s their job and not because they have their house and car bet on the game.

        By the way, I remember reading that in the early days of baseball it was common and accepted for players to bet on their own teams. No one thought this was a bad practice. I personally think this IS a bad practice, but I throw out this factoid FWIW.

    • oldnumero7 - Apr 15, 2011 at 2:00 PM

      Just as we regularly get the “Pete Rose wasn’t as bad as the steroid cheats” arguments, we must regularly regurgitate the fact that we have no positive proof that Pete Rose himself never did steroids. Just like we don’t definitively know that Cal Ripken, Rickey Henderson, Kirby Puckett, Tony Gwynn, Jack Morris or Andre Dawson didn’t do steroids. We had no testing back then.

      What we do know was that Pete Rose consorted with not only professional gamblers and organized crime types but steroid dealers and users. We do know that Pete Rose was, uh, somewhat ethically challenged. And so making Pete out to be less damaging to the game than someone that did steroids when it’s at least theoretically possible Pete also tried steroids is intellectually dishonest.

    • bigharold - Apr 15, 2011 at 2:00 PM

      Pete Rose broke the Cardinal rule of baseball and lied about it for years. Even when he fessed up found a way to do it in a self serving selfish way by doing it in conjunction with the HOF announcements so he could sell his book.

      If you can’t enforce this rule with such a high profile player and the egregious circumstances that surround Rose’s episode than you might as well not have any rules. There is a great big difference between what Rose did and the PEDs influence on baseball. It is not an extenuating circumstance nor a valid argument to compare the two as they are completely independent and not at all similar.

      At some point I think baseball will relent and reinstate him and he will be inducted in the HOF. But, the timing of that and even if that ever happens are all the result of Pete Rose’s actions and he should stop complaining about it. Hey it took him 20 years to fess up so why is it unreasonable if MLB takes 10-20 to reinstate him?

  2. shaggylocks - Apr 15, 2011 at 1:12 PM

    Does Pete Rose even need to be in the HOF at this point? He’s more famous for not being in the HOF than some of the HOFers themselves. I imagine the same will be true with some of the “deserving” juicers.

  3. Jonny 5 - Apr 15, 2011 at 1:13 PM

    I don’t understand something about “the rules” though. A lifetime ban for gambling and a suspension for steroid use? Really? Crock of sh!t if you ask me. Has gambling actually changed the game more so than steroid use? That has to be a big “NO”, Yes?

    • Craig Calcaterra - Apr 15, 2011 at 1:15 PM

      Gamblers with organized crime affiliations got to players and threw a World Series. I think that impacted things far more than any steroid use did.

      • schrutebeetfarms - Apr 15, 2011 at 1:35 PM

        Threw a world series in 1919.

        How many world series have the outcomes now changed because of steriod use? Everyone in the past 15 years?

      • drunkenhooliganism - Apr 15, 2011 at 1:49 PM

        That’s a ridiculous connection to Pete Rose. That’s like blaming the steroid users for kidnappings in Columbia. Pete Rose didn’t throw a world series. There is no evidence that Pete Rose did anything but bet on his own team every day.

        Nowhere in there do I say that Pete Rose is not a scumbag.

      • Jonny 5 - Apr 15, 2011 at 2:20 PM

        Although I see your point. I can’t say that I can agree. I honestly feel the steroid era has been more damaging. The potential to be more damaging probably has to go to the gambling. But when it’s all said and done I think the steroid thing has been worse overall. I guess what I’m trying to say is, if they aren’t exactly equally damaging, they’re close enough to hold the same punishment imo. And by the way, suspensions aren’t exactly working either are they?

      • heynerdlinger - Apr 15, 2011 at 2:28 PM

        Johnny – Ask yourself to what extent is the damage done by steroids limited by the fact that they mostly affected home runs and home run records.

        My belief is that without the assaults on the home run records, steroids would be considered as irrelevant in baseball as they are in the NFL. Look around at the steroid pariahs and you will see the vast majority of them are power hitters, despite the fact that the vast majority of those caught were not. Aside from Clemens, are there any big-name pitchers who are being outcast for using steroids?

        So ask yourself, would steroids be as damaging to baseball if 61 and 755 were still the home run records?

      • Jonny 5 - Apr 15, 2011 at 2:35 PM

        heynerdlinger,

        If it effected home runs and home run records it also effected wins and losses. Many games are won by the bomb. Even World series’

        Gambling?
        Doesn’t change the outcome anymore when players can buy and sell the mafia in today’s day and age.

      • clydeserra - Apr 15, 2011 at 3:52 PM

        threw one world series we know about

      • clydeserra - Apr 15, 2011 at 3:55 PM

        Still trying to figure out how steroids ruined baseball.

      • Jonny 5 - Apr 15, 2011 at 4:06 PM

        Steroids didn’t ruin baseball, neither did gambling. It’s still alive and well.

    • Craig Calcaterra - Apr 15, 2011 at 1:39 PM

      Actually, has any one had its outcome changed by steroids? Tons of players took them. Players on each side of every team. And in no event was one side willingly trying to lose.

      I’m sorry, taking PEDs is not the same thing as taking a dive.

      • indyralph - Apr 15, 2011 at 1:49 PM

        Mr. Farmer, your argument is also completely circular. On your logic, burglary should be more heavily punished than murder, because burglary occurs more often. But you have to at least recognize that the relative frequencies are correlated to the relative punishments in place. And that the lesser occurrences of the two is lesser occurring because the social mores consider it a more grave offense.

      • clydeserra - Apr 15, 2011 at 3:53 PM

        2002 World Champion Giants totally benefited from Bonds’ steroid use

      • jimbo1949 - Apr 15, 2011 at 11:03 PM

        2002 World Champion Giants?

        Which drugs have you been taking?

    • buckybadger - Apr 15, 2011 at 1:58 PM

      Actually you are very wrong. Think about what the players are doing. Steroid users are cheaters but to cheat at something means the outcome is NOT predetermined. When you have insiders gambling this means that more than likely they will hedge their bets or do whatever they can to ensure their bet is right. This than makes the game predetermined and no better than WWE.

      The current outrage of steroids us simply more fresh in the publics mind but insiders gambling on a sport is far more damaging.

    • bigharold - Apr 15, 2011 at 2:15 PM

      “I don’t understand something about “the rules” though. A lifetime ban for gambling and a suspension for steroid use? Really?”

      Whether you agree or not, the real point is that the rule Rose broke was in place, he knew of it and the consequences but did it anyway. The rule wasn’t put there to get him nor was it developed in relationship to any other frowned up activity in baseball. Rose played and coached for over 20 years so he knew he what was at risk. He compounded that by lying for 20 years. He’s getting what he deserves.

      I loved Rose as a player because, like most of us, he was an average guy. He was neither exceptionally big, strong or fast, that worked his can off and played ferociously and succeeded. Then the same confidence, will and determination that made him an icon morphed into arrogance and HE threw it all away. Too bad but he’s nobody to blame but himself.

      • Jonny 5 - Apr 15, 2011 at 2:27 PM

        Hey Harold, I’m definitely not arguing that. I accept that the “rules are rules”. As Rose should have as well. I’m not worried about that. I think steroid use is just as bad and these suspensions don’t work well enough as far as I can tell.

      • bigharold - Apr 15, 2011 at 2:54 PM

        Gauging whether PEDs use is as bad as gambling is tough because it’s almost impossible to really know how pervasive PEDs us was/is. Unless you can get a handle on the true scope of the problem it’s imposible to quantify.

        One could argue the merits of whether if only a minority of players using PEDs was either better or worse than a majority. If it was only a few than that would skew the record book for those using a great deal but overall only slightly. If a majority of players were using than it might well skew the record book even more but it might have also merely cancelled the over all effect on the records statistically.

        There are three real concerns; 1. On what scale was PEDs use in the past, 2. on what scale are they still used, 3. how will baseball combat their use going forward? Until you know the answer to these questions it will be hard to say what the real impact of PEDs has been or will be.

      • Jonny 5 - Apr 15, 2011 at 3:11 PM

        There is no doubt that PED use effected home runs. Home runs no doubt effect wins and losses. I just don’t see banning players for gambling being fair when steroid use (which I feel to be more damaging overall) is met with a suspension, then a second offense with another suspension. It’s not equal punishment in my opinion.

      • bigharold - Apr 15, 2011 at 3:20 PM

        “There is no doubt that PED use effected home runs. Home runs no doubt effect wins and losses.”

        True but if the pitcher throwing the pitch is taking PEDs too that doe put things in a different light. Or, what if there are three or four position players on the opposite team taking PEDs to match the three or four guys on your team then isn’t it a wash?

        I’m not defending PEDs use but clearly it is nearly impossible to say with any certainty exactly how pervasive PEDs use was or still is so it’s equally impossible to determine the real impact on the game.

      • Jonny 5 - Apr 15, 2011 at 3:52 PM

        I totally agree, but I also feel that today the punishment is weak in comparison to the lifetime ban gambling brings. I’d probably say it’s fair if by your second offense you get the ban, since “You know it’s against the rules” now. What do you think? I think people misunderstand and think I mean the past PED abusers should be punished by MLB, that’s not where I’m going.

  4. bleedgreen - Apr 15, 2011 at 1:15 PM

    Pete Rose didn’t break rules (at least get caught breaking rules, what with the corked bat rumors and what not) until well after he was done as a player. Why shouldn’t he be in the HOF as a player? If he was in the HoF as a player before he was caught betting, do you think they’d kick him out? My guess is no.

  5. Innocent Bystander - Apr 15, 2011 at 1:21 PM

    Sports are great because there is not a pre-determined outcome. Pete Rose is the biggest baseball scumbag of all time because he threatened “pre-determined”. Without it we might as well be watching WWE.

  6. CliffC - Apr 15, 2011 at 1:24 PM

    Pete Rose broke the rules, one of the oldest rules in baseball and he accepted his punishment and thats that, I don’t even understand why this is a discussion. There is a reason there were “betting prohibited” signs in stadiums in the 20′s, baseball didn’t start in 1985 with steroids people

  7. lpd1964 - Apr 15, 2011 at 2:04 PM

    So we are to ignore Rose’s 4,256 hits? How in the world did his gambling lead him to accomplish those hits? If baseball wants to keep Rose out as a manager, no problem with that. However someone is the all time hits leader and not to have Rose in the hall for his aforementioned record is a travesty.

    • bigharold - Apr 15, 2011 at 2:37 PM

      “However someone is the all time hits leader and not to have Rose in the hall for his aforementioned record is a travesty.”

      You are missing the point. There was a clear well known long standing indisputable rule in place that specifically forbade gambling. It carried with it an similarly unequivocal consequence. Rose chose to brake that rule. He compounded that by lying about it for two decades. If you can’t enforce that rule under those circumstances then you might as well tear the rule book up.

      Nobody is ignore his accomplishments on the field that banning him from baseball going forward which precludes even debating his induction in the HOF. And, it Pete Rose’s fault. Allowing him to skate on s rule of this magnitude in an instance with Rose’s statue and his lying would be a “travesty”.

    • clydeserra - Apr 15, 2011 at 4:11 PM

      who is ignoring the hits?

  8. BC - Apr 15, 2011 at 2:28 PM

    Both Rose and PED users changed the events in a game. However….. Rose broke a standing rule at the time that was clearly communicated. There was no testing or rule against PED use when that took off, however wrong it was. Rose is worse.

  9. bigharold - Apr 15, 2011 at 3:06 PM

    Craig, I’ve a serious questions; Is this topic merely coincidence, luck of the draw in terms of subject matter or do you have a list of radio active sure fire topics to stir up the hoi polloi?

    • Craig Calcaterra - Apr 15, 2011 at 3:16 PM

      Coincidence/luck of the draw. The linked article just got published today, I saw it and — bammo — here it is.

      • bigharold - Apr 15, 2011 at 3:25 PM

        Well either way, .. this is a “good’n”. Seems like everybody has a strong opinion on Pete.

      • Jonny 5 - Apr 15, 2011 at 3:48 PM

        “Seems like everybody has a strong opinion on Pete”

        How could you not, right? Hit leader, One of the hardest players ever, a-hole on many fronts. People either love him, Hate him, or can’t decide and stick with both, like myself.

        One thing for sure is the man asked for what he got.

  10. Jack Marshall - Apr 15, 2011 at 3:32 PM

    Rose’s offense is far, far worse, and less defensible, than any of the steroid cheats. He defied a cardinal rule knowing the consequences. Gambling nearly destroyed the sport, which has every reason to regard connection to gambling as a threat to MLB’s existence. And he lied about it, for years and years. If there was a way to separate the player (clean, great, unique) from the man (corrupt, dishonest, selfish), I would love to see Pete in the Hall. But there isn’t. “Don’t do the crime if you can’t do the time..”

  11. Dan in Katonah - Apr 15, 2011 at 3:43 PM

    Rose deliberately violated the Prime Directive and shuold not be allowed in the HOF, even with a ticket. Funny, about 15 years ago I saw him signing autographs in Vegas and joked with my friends that we should go up and ask him to sign it “Sorry I bet on baseball.” Likely he would have taken a swing at me. Now he will do it for $100 with a smile.

    Rather than go to bat for this unabashed liar, how about we get Marvin Miller into the HOF before he passes. That is the true shameful omission of our time.

  12. Reflex - Apr 15, 2011 at 3:46 PM

    Sorry, but this stuff misses the point. People can argue all day about whether or not gambling or steroids are worse for the sport. Both are bad. But the point here really is: Both are parts of Pete Rose’s legacy. Rose discovered steroids in the mid-80′s, reputedly said that if he were a younger man he’d have used them in a heartbeat, and introduced his young players to them on the Reds. SI covered this several years back in a very lengthy investigation into the roots of steroids in baseball.

    So far as I am concerned, Rose is at ground zero of the steroid epidemic in the sport. Even if you somehow can excuse his gambling(I can’t), you can’t get around the fact that he had a major role in popularizing steroid use in the game. You pretty much have to forgive both of those offenses to build a case for Rose being allowed back in the sport in any capacity.

    • bigharold - Apr 15, 2011 at 4:25 PM

      There has been several articles quoting Tom House of the Braves where he states that steroids were used in MLB in the 60s and 70s. So they were around but not nearly as widespread during Rose’s early career. If accurate, and that seems to be the case, Rose can’t be blamed in any way for PED use in the last two decades. Also, Bob Gibson’s been quoted as saying had steroids been available he would have likely took them too. So apparently Rose’s statement about using them if he could have are not the outlandish.

      If we insist on tar and feathering Rose lets stick to the things that he actually did, .. bet on baseball. That’s more than enough.

      • Reflex - Apr 16, 2011 at 4:55 AM

        You may wish to read the links I posted. Rose did actually encourage the spread of steroids in the sport. He encouraged his young players to try them. He sent them to a dealer for this purpose. This is not something made up, its something he was actively a part of when the steroid culture was in its infancy.

        Could they have been used before? Sure. I wouldn’t be suprised if a few players had done them previous to the mid-80′s. However there is no evidence that they were widespread until that point.

  13. lpd1964 - Apr 15, 2011 at 3:53 PM

    Where’s the evidence that Rose discovered steroids? He popularized steroids?? Again, where is the evidence of that?? I’m not even a fan Pete’s but simple math-All time hits leader = HOF. I’m not electing a pope, Mike Schmidt says he belongs that’s good enough for me. Finally, I think Rose has been punished enough. I’m not saying let Rose back in baseball to manage, lets honor his on the field accomplishments, how did the gambling help him get the hits?? nobody has answered that question.

    • Reflex - Apr 15, 2011 at 4:06 PM

      http://sports.espn.go.com/espn/eticket/story?page=steroids&num=2

      http://www.posner.com/articles/peterose%20-%20the%20posner%20file.htm

      Read those. Rose was all over getting steroids into the game. There are two people who I consider to be among the worst things to happen to the game in my lifetime. One is Pete Rose. The other is Tony LaRussa.

  14. mgflolox - Apr 15, 2011 at 3:56 PM

    Look, here’s the thing; players were/are using PEDs to become better, and increase their – and by extension – their team’s success. They are still competing at the highest level possible to succeed. The consequences of gambling compromises the integrity of the competition. The best quote I’ve heard on the subject of game fixing (I think it was John Thorn who said it) was “When the ball went through Buckner’s legs in Game 6 of the ’86 World Series, I have no doubt that he didn’t do it on purpose.” That’s what needs to be protected, the assurance that every player is doing everything they can to win.

  15. raysfan1 - Apr 16, 2011 at 12:00 AM

    The thing about gambling by a player or manager on baseball is the perception of the games being fixed. Even if Pete Rose only bet on his own team, unless he bet every game, and always bet the same amount, the possibility is there that motivation is tied to how much he bet, and thus creates at least the perception that the competition is not real.
    .
    Ultimately, MLB is a business & what’s good/bad for it is tied directly to profitability and fan interest. The 1919 Black Sox scandal was far worse than steroids because it almost destroyed MLB’s financial viability right at the time of the post-WWI financial panic. Gambling remains the most potent thing that could turn baseball into nothing but a niche sport that most Americans won’t watch–because it could make Americans no longer believe the competition is real.
    .
    A lot of people do cherish records in baseball, and thus the perception that steroids taint the home run record is important too, but baseball is making even more money now than it was a decade ago, and never took any significant decline in the wake of the BALCO scandal. Therefore, the 1919 Black Sox scandal was worse.
    .
    One thing that does not often get mentioned in these “which is worst?” debates is whether steroids or the 1994 strike is worse–or cocaine in the 1980′s. I despise steroids as I consider them dangerous drugs with horrific long-term side effects for the abuser. However, I think for the health of MLB both the strike and the prevalence of cocaine in the 1980′s were worse. I’d personally rate them from worst to “least bad” as 1919 Black Sox scandal/betting on baseball, 1994 strike, cocaine “epidemic,” then steroids. Craig, you’ve written on these topics before too, of course, but I’d be interested in your take on relative evils of these in comparison.

  16. larry3656 - Apr 17, 2011 at 1:16 PM

    Concerning CC’s comment about the White Sox scandal… That was ONE World Series 92 years ago, for God’s sake! It was an anomaly. Steroid and drug use, not to mention incidents of domestic violence, illegal arms use, etc., etc. have become the norm! The idea that gambling has had a greater influence on the sport – ANY sport for that matter – than performance enhancing drugs is naive, at best and ludicrous at worst. Come on, you Rose haters, get your heads out of the sand. Pete Rose made a mistake – a horrible mistake, to be sure. Should he be banned from the game? No doubt. Should he banned from the HOF? No way! His on-field accomplishments were unparalleled. His playing had significantly more impact on the game of baseball than the sin he committed and his actions, though illegal, did not affect the OUTCOME of one single game. He paid his debt to society! Let go of it!

    Let’s also remember one more thing. Let’s stop viewing the Baseball Hall of Fame as place where one must be beatified in order to enter. Many of the players whose accomplishments are celebrated within those “hallowed” halls were much less than saints.

    The HOF celebrates ON THE FIELD accomplishments. In a society where men are paid $100 million + to play a game and we welcome back as a conquering hero someone who maimed, tortured and murdered innocent animals, let’s not lose our sense of perspective.

    As Dennis Miller says… That’s just my opinion – I could be wrong.

    By the way… I’m a Dodger fan. Can’t stand the Reds!

    • raysfan1 - Apr 18, 2011 at 10:56 AM

      2 things–
      .
      1) By the rules of the HoF, if one’s banned from baseball, that person is also banned from the HoF. While I agree that the HoF should ditch that rule, that’s the way it is. This is also my response to those who keep brining up that Rose was the Reds’ manager when he got caught and therefore should still be eligible based on his playing accomplishments.
      .
      2) Yes, the 1919 WS was 92 years ago. The scandal also almost ruined MLB’s reputation. Reputation/perception = $$$ and that’s what MLB cares about. It also wasn’t an isolated incident. For example, a few years later Ty Cobb and Tris Speaker were on the verge of being banned as well after an allegation by Dutch Leonard. He (Leonard) ultimately refused to testify (a la Greg Anderson in the Barry Bonds case), and Commissioner Landis let the matter drop when Speaker and Cobb (temporarily) both retired. One also does not have to look very far to find other sports that have had problems with organized gambling to realize that the incident 92 years ago is very much relavent today and would pose a much bigger threat to the bottom line. One can argue the relative morality of gambling vs PEDs all day, but the damage to the sport’s bottom line from letting the vigilance against organized gambling slip is the far more real risk in the eyes of the league offices & why the one rule posted in every clubhouse is the one on betting on baseball & its consequence–permanent banishment.

  17. sasquash20 - Apr 22, 2011 at 7:27 PM

    He has more hits then anyone. Ban him from the game today, not from the HOF. Guy is one of the all time greats. Stop riding your high horses about him breaking a rule because its posted all over the place. He paid his price for it lets move on and put him in the hall. Besides is there any proof he ever bet against his team? I may be wrong but I think I read they could only prove he bet on his team. There is a big difference in my eyes.

    Steriods and other PEDs full effect hasn’t been felt yet. But they did hurt the game a lot. Because of the records and WS winning teams that had players who clearly used them, the game has no integrity left. Thats all the more reason to put Rose in the HOF. The history,( if nothing changes******) is forever ruined by PEDs. Baseball was a game that the history meant something, but records are just a joke now.

    • Reflex - Apr 23, 2011 at 4:48 AM

      If you feel that harshly about steroids then Rose should be in your doghouse. He was one of the original managers encouraging his players to roid up during the 80′s. Go read the links I posted above.

      There is no way to rectify an anti-steroid view with a pro-Rose view. Either you accept steroids and gambling as not a big deal and Rose as a HOFer, or you accept steroids or gambling as bad for the game and Rose is out. Take your pick. Since he was involved heavily with both, you can’t pick one and compare it against the other and say it wasn’t so bad.

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