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The Pete Rose rehabilitation begins, as scheduled

Jul 29, 2013, 11:06 AM EST

pete rose getty Getty Images

Last week Pete Rose made a case, however much he soft-peddled it, that given how bad the PED guys are, he should be considered for reinstatement. I predicted at the time that that talking point would come out of induction weekend in Cooperstown. And it did. Here’ Joe Morgan:

“Braun has $117 million coming to him and had to give only three million back. Is the risk worth the reward for cheating the game?” asked Joe Morgan. “Tell me how that works. We thought the Hall of Fame was going to be detriment enough for these guys. Obviously, it’s not. They’re still doing it. That’s because there’s so much money. Pete did a bad thing, I’m not saying he didn’t. He broke baseball’s cardinal rule. And he shouldn’t have taken 10 years to come clean. But he never cheated the game. Yet he’s out 24 years as opposed to Braun getting 65 games? That just doesn’t seem right to me.”

There was a time when there wasn’t a bigger threat to the very existence of baseball than gambling. For that reason, baseball implemented its most severe and most clearly-stared rule of all: gamble on the game, banned permanently. It is literally written on the walls of every clubhouse. Pete Rose knowingly broke that rule and willingly accepted the punishment.

Say whatever you want about PED users. Say they too should be banned permanently. Say they should be drawn and quartered and their heads put on pikes. But don’t suggest for one second that that has any bearing on baseball’s anti-gambling rules or its punishment of Pete Rose. Don’t suggest that it renders his behavior any less odious.

Pete Rose is seen by many as a sad clown now, but when he was suspended he was one of 26 baseball managers. He probably had more power over the day to day operations of the Cincinnati Reds than any manager in the game had at that time. While the story has come down that he only bet on the Reds to win that is not anywhere close to being firmly established. Conveniently, it is most often cited by people trying to excuse Rose’s behavior as an extension of his win-first mentality, forgetting that Pete Rose wanted to win at gambling just as much as he wanted to win at baseball and thus very well could have “won” by losing. It also is beside the point. PED guys take stuff because they want to win too. We don’t go any lighter on them because of it.

PEDs and Pete Rose are separate issues. To the extent they are conflated it is done so by people who are either ignorant of baseball history or who are banking on you being ignorant of baseball history.

118 Comments (Feed for Comments)
  1. nbjays - Jul 29, 2013 at 1:17 PM

    Good article, Craig. Only one line that I disagree with:

    “PED guys take stuff because they want to win too.”

    I would argue that most guys who take PEDs care less about winning — which is a team function — than about personal gain. I see PED users grouped into three categories:

    Some use PEDs to gain that edge over other players (some of who also use), to get the big contract, such as in the case of, say, Melky Cabrera.

    Some use to try to gain the edge over others (that also use) to get the accolades and recognition they feel is owed to them, as in the case of Barry Bonds. This is also about the $$.

    And some use to prolong their careers, to slow down or hold back Father Time, to try to play for a few more years (again, all about the $$). I see Manny Ramirez in this camp.

    If the side benefit of this is team success, great, but I don’t see that as the prime motivator for those who use performance enhancing substances.

    Just my opinion, of course. Feel free to debate.

    • DJ MC - Jul 29, 2013 at 2:36 PM

      Since in all team sports team wins are a function of the combination of individual performances, something designed to help a player perform better is going to help the team perform better.

      • nbjays - Jul 29, 2013 at 3:04 PM

        Only up to a point.

        While the Bond-zilla years for the Giants saw improved W-L numbers, there wasn’t much in the way of postseason success to celebrate.

      • Kevin S. - Jul 29, 2013 at 8:53 PM

        The Giants were six outs away from winning the World Series. I wouldn’t call that “not much to celebrate.”

      • junglerat524 - Jul 29, 2013 at 9:48 PM

        They lost.

      • DJ MC - Jul 29, 2013 at 10:06 PM

        You’re going to blame Bonds because the Giants couldn’t put a better team around him?

        Actually, considering they made the playoffs in three of four years over that period, it appears that everyone on that team did do what they were supposed to do.

    • raysfan1 - Jul 29, 2013 at 3:05 PM

      You left out using to try to be good enough to make a MLB roster to begin with. They’re the largest group.

      • nbjays - Jul 30, 2013 at 9:56 PM

        This is true. Thanks, Raysfan!

  2. tomtravis76 - Jul 29, 2013 at 1:17 PM

    Has anyone ever reviewed all of the games Pete managed, to see if there are any out of the ordinary suspect moves that could have influenced the outcome of a game for the reds to lose?

    • Glenn - Jul 29, 2013 at 1:44 PM

      That doesn’t really matter. Supposedly he only bet on the Reds to win. That sort of means he was betting on them to lose in the games that he didn’t gamble on them. Even betting on his own team could influence when and what players were rested, how pitchers were used, etc., thus affecting outcomes but in ways not obvious.

      • raysfan1 - Jul 29, 2013 at 3:09 PM

        Not to mention that every manager makes head-scratching moves sometimes.

        Plus, it’s still irrelevant. Gambling on baseball creates a perception of potentially not always trying to win, and it’s the perception that is dangerous to the bottom line.

      • Marty McKee - Jul 29, 2013 at 3:57 PM

        “he was betting on them to lose in the games that he didn’t gamble on them”

        I don’t buy this logic. Maybe he didn’t feel like betting that day. Maybe he was too busy to place his bet. Or maybe he bet on every Reds game.

        I still believe, after all of Rose’s b.s., that he always was much more interested than winning a baseball game than winning a bet, that he would rather lose $20,000 than lose a game. Admittedly, I don’t know this, but I don’t know otherwise either.

  3. rich7041 - Jul 29, 2013 at 1:31 PM

    I have no problem with Pete Rose being banned for life. Or Ryan Braun, for that matter. But it’s a travesty that Gil Hodges never made it.

    • junglerat524 - Jul 29, 2013 at 1:32 PM

      I have a signed foul ball by him that my dad caught as a kid.

  4. junglerat524 - Jul 29, 2013 at 1:35 PM

    If Pete isn’t in Cooperstown there’s no reason to go to Cooperstown. I’ll bet you all that the day of his enshrinement will be the day Cooperstown breaks attendance marks.

    Craig is so wrong on this. He won’t admit it though.

    • lawson1974 - Jul 31, 2013 at 11:23 AM

      I know I’ll be there. But they will probably do it posthumously, just to be jerks.

  5. schmedley69 - Jul 29, 2013 at 2:02 PM

    Great points,Craig. By the same token, being banned from baseball and being banned from the HOF are separate issues as well. Pete deserves to be banned from managing or holding any kind of position of power within baseball, but the rule keeping him out of the HOF was put in place by Fay Vincent after Pete had already accepted the banishment. Pete was a great player and should be honored for his accomplishments on the field. To pretend that his career never happened is ridiculous. Pete was one of the greatest to ever play the game and keeping him out of the HOF not only diminishes Pete’s playing career, but it also diminishes the hall itself.

    • michaelanthonyseibert - Jul 29, 2013 at 2:25 PM

      The rule to keep him out was actually not put in my Fay Vincent (although he is sure to endorse it), it was put in by the HOF board since MLB and the HOF have nothing to do, rule wise, with each other. The Rose Rule was put in after Rose was banned. He needs to be kept out of baseball, if for no other reason for lying for so long, but he earned his way in the HOF regardless of what old HOF’ers think. The probably aren’t crystal clean either, but just never got caught doing anything.

      • DelawarePhilliesFan - Jul 29, 2013 at 2:56 PM

        Technically true – but the Commish himself sits on said board, and MLB most certainly is the 800 lb Gorilla.

        Fay Vincent wanted him banished, and so it happened

  6. junglerat524 - Jul 29, 2013 at 3:11 PM

    Who should go in 1st? Pete or McGuire?

  7. Reflex - Jul 29, 2013 at 4:35 PM

    “PEDs and Pete Rose are separate issues. To the extent they are conflated it is done so by people who are either ignorant of baseball history or who are banking on you being ignorant of baseball history.”

    This is not really true. Pete Rose had a lot to do with the introduction of PEDs to baseball in the first place. One cannot have a discussion of PEDS and their impact on the game without bringing up his role in the 80’s at pushing PEDs on his players when he was a manager.

    • junglerat524 - Jul 29, 2013 at 9:53 PM

      Again, I need facts to back this comment up. This is the 1st I’ve heard of Pete pushing PEDs on his players. Of course it is just a message board. I once slept with Jennifer Aniston.

      • Reflex - Jul 30, 2013 at 2:08 PM

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

  8. Old Gator - Jul 29, 2013 at 4:36 PM

    Bart Giamatti, whose death Vincent and others blamed on Rose (never mind that Giamatti was an overweight three pack a day smoker), knew better than his successors. He crafted an admission agreement with Rose that allowed for Pete to apply for reinstatement at a future date. Giamatti didn’t have to do that. He had Rose dead to rights and could have squashed him like a bug, but that wasn’t his way of doing things. A fine scholar of literature and history as well as a sublime belletrist (you will read no finer, more perfectly distilled appreciation of the game than his essay on the symbolism of baseball in Take Time for Paradise), Giamatti was well aware of the verdict that posterity would level against the game if, despite his transgressions, baseball in its sanctimonious pique swept under the rug Rose’s legitimate accomplishments on the field. I doubt if then-commissioner wanted the so-called “writers,” better than any of whom he was as a writer himself, to bar Rose from the hall forever. The statistics weren’t going to go away and their exclusion, he well understood, would make the game and its self-appointed ethical guardians look petty and indiscriminate.

    Enough is enough. We know Rose can’t be trusted with any position of responsibility within MLB. However, to keep out the all-time hits leader and holder of the National League’s alltime hitting streak from a building that houses the likes of vicious racists like Ty Cobb is absolutely ridiculous.

    • bigharold - Jul 29, 2013 at 5:54 PM

      Interesting take but how long is enough?

      I don’t think that Rose should be left out forever but he refused to admit what he did for 15 years. I’m thinking that he’s going to have to match that starting from the moment he admitted he gambled. That puts it around 2019. The worry is he might not live that long, (although he has about 18 years on my and likely will outlive my ass).

      It would be sad if Rose didn’t make it in before he died. But, in the end he is responsible for his fate. Nevertheless, I’d like to see Selig reinstate him before he leaves, .. sort of like a Presidential pardon that are usually granted on the last day in office. Hey, if Ford could let Nixon walk anything is possible.

      • junglerat524 - Jul 29, 2013 at 9:56 PM

        Fuck Bud

      • Old Gator - Jul 30, 2013 at 10:04 AM

        Harold: not a bad comparison, except maybe as a matter of scale. Ford let Nixon walk for the greater good of the country. Time for the BBWA to vote Pete into the hall for the greater good of the game.

    • junglerat524 - Jul 29, 2013 at 9:55 PM

      OG just shocked me.

    • nbjays - Jul 30, 2013 at 9:59 PM

      Well said, Gator!

      /raises glass

  9. barrywhererufrom - Jul 30, 2013 at 10:47 AM

    Both PED users and Pete Rose cheated..PED users cheat to get ahead for their own gain. Rose cheated the game because he put the game at risk. If you read the Dowd report you would know what I am writing about. He posted bets with no mob associates. Let’s be real here. I can see why Rose supporters would make the comparison. I don’t see it..

  10. barrywhererufrom - Jul 30, 2013 at 10:47 AM

    meant to say he posted bets with known mob associates..damn phone!

  11. lawson1974 - Jul 31, 2013 at 11:21 AM

    I am not the least bit ignorant of baseball history, Craig, you pompous a$$.

    That doesn’t mean I can’t think that Pete is well past the point where the punishment fit the crime.

  12. jrwatlantic - Aug 1, 2013 at 3:15 PM

    This closing statement makes my blood boil, “…To the extent they are conflated it is done so by people who are either ignorant of baseball history or who are banking on you being ignorant of baseball history.”

    That is way too harsh, and to suggest someone is ignorant because they feel the player with the most hits in the history of the game should be in the Hall of Fame is nothing more than lame journalism fodder to rouse an ancient matter. If I am the ignorant one, you are the pathetic one.

    What’s more, the following statement is misleading, “…gamble on the game, banned permanently. It is literally written on the walls of every clubhouse.” I suspect that it was not written on the walls of every clubhouse back in 1987. You’re leading the reader. It may now be on the walls, for reasons similar to why Starbucks has to warn you that the beverage you are about to enjoy is extremely hot: because some idiot threw caution to the wind at someone else’s expense, and thus changed social expectations and assumptions. That warning wasn’t always on Starbucks cups!

    To deny that an intelligent argument can be made that Rose’s ban and PEDs are conflated is narrow minded. Here is what is the same: they have all done something wrong and really bad. To declare any perspective contrary to your own as ignorant is, well….ignorant.

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