Pete Rose & The Hypocrisy Of Baseball

I grew up surrounded by baseball, I have loved it since the day I could walk. My grandfather was a baseball coach and I was his teams bat boy and then scorebook keeper, before that, I would dress in full catchers gear and crouch behind the fence and mimic the catcher and umpire. Baseball runs through my blood, I love it, I became a mediocre player and I think a pretty damn good coach. Throughout my life, I studied the history of the game from Abner Doubleday to the Astros wearing buzzers and everything in between. One of my favorite and most fascinating stories to study, is the rise and fall of Pete Rose, the all-time hits leader.

Pete Rose was banned from baseball for life in 1989 when it was discovered he bet on baseball and broke Rule 21, the cardinal sin in baseball, gambling on the outcome of games. He maintained he never bet on baseball until 2004 when he wrote his book and finally admitted to the fact that he bet on baseball, bet on his own team, the Cincinnati Reds to win ballgames. I understand the critics, especially those who understand gambling because, the days Pete did not bet on the Reds, that would indicate that he was not confident in his team, obviously effecting the bettors and the lines.

I am not one of those critics, I think the fact that Pete Rose is still viewed as a pariah is ridiculous. Yes, he broke the rules, but a lifetime ban is excessive. We have to remember that this rule was created because of the 1919 Black Sox who took money to lose the World Series, actively throwing games is deserving of a ban but that is a far cry from what Pete Rose was doing.

Major League Baseball is rapidly inching towards a hypocritical stance, in a huge way. The Supreme Court of the United States made gambling on sports legal and MLB has completely embraced the fact that their fans will be betting on games and MLB will be making money off of this. They went as far as to have the MLB winter meetings in Las Vegas, steps away from where Pete Rose works four days a week signing autographs for fans. In recent years Rose has apologized for his actions and in a society that gives second chances to everyone, which I agree with, it seems insane to not allow Rose is day in the sun and let him be inducted into Baseball’s Hall of Fame.

When the MLB needs Pete Rose, he is there. They allowed him on the field for the All Century Team in 2000, Reds bobblehead night, jersey retirement in Cincinnati, statue unveiling in Cincinnati and multiple other events where revenue increases and ballparks that normally don’t sell out are jammed pack, Pete Rose is there, with a smile and a thank you.

Pete Rose is not a choir boy, that’s for sure, but who is? We are all human, all made mistakes and have all asked for forgiveness, we all deserve chances to get better and improve ourselves. Also, spoiler alert, there are racists, bigots, cheaters and thieves that are enshrined in Baseball’s Hall of Fame, so this holier than thou attitude is laughable.

Faye Vincent and John Dowd, who played the biggest role in suspending Rose, still have a real hatred for him and are convinced he should not receive any reinstatement or praise. They get on their soap boxes and talk negatively about Pete Rose but when it comes to steroid users who actually cheated to improve their ability, mum is the word and go ahead and put them on the Hall of Fame ballot. Hypocrisy is the word that would come to mind, involving this entire situation.

On the biggest gambling day of the year tomorrow, let’s reflect on second chances and realize Pete Rose doesn’t belong in some dingy casino sports store signing autographs, he belongs in Cooperstown, in Baseball’s Hall of Fame.