Yesterday, MLB Commissioner Rob Manfred refused to lift he lifetime ban on Pete Rose. Manfred listed several reasons for his refusal to lift the ban by saying that allowing Mr. Rose to work in baseball “presents an unacceptable risk” that he might again bet on the sport, a strict violation of baseball’s rules.
This decision keeps him from getting into the Hall of Fame. This all may seem like a trivial matter. One might argue, and many are, that the Hall of Fame should not keep the all-time hits leader out. But, there really is more to this than just that.
In 1918, the Chicago White Sox were accused of “throwing” the World Series in exchange for payoffs from gamblers. The players were all acquitted in court, but baseball believed there was enough circumstantial evidence against them and banned all of the layers for life.
They then added Rule 21 to the list of rules that all employees of baseball, including on-field employees must adhere to. Section d. says:
(d) BETTING ON BALL GAMES. Any player, umpire, or club official or employee, who shall bet any sum whatsoever upon any baseball game in connection with which the bettor has no duty to perform shall be declared ineligible for one year.
Any player, umpire, or club or league official or employee, who shall
bet any sum whatsoever upon any baseball game in connection with which the bettor has a duty to perform shall be declared permanently ineligible.
Pete Rose got caught betting on baseball while he was the manager of the Cincinnati Reds. It was later discovered that he bet on baseball when he was a player. Furthermore, he bet on the team he was playing for and/or managing.
The gambling issue has been a very serious one for baseball ever since the Black Sox scandal that started this mess. It is the one rule that is on full display in every locker room in baseball stadiums. Every player knows the rule and is reminded of it every spring training.
Rose chose to ignore that rule. He chose to be “his own man” and figured even if he got caught, he was Pete Rose and no one would dare ban him from the game. He was wrong. Bart Giamatti, then commissioner, did ban him for life. Rose even signed the “agreement” and knew he would be banned for life.
One thing that Giamatti did say at the time, was that Rose needed to reconfigure his life before his reinstatement was considered. In his statement, Manfred said:
In short, Mr. Rose has not presented credible evidence of a reconfigured life either by an honest acceptance by him of his wrongdoing … or by a rigorous, self-aware and sustained program of avoidance by him of all the circumstances that led to his permanent ineligibility in 1989.
Yes, gambling is legal. However, this is about more than just Rose’s gambling addiction. It is about ego that was brought on by entitlement. Pete Rose was a terrific baseball player. He set the all-time hits record, and really worked hard at his craft.
That does not mean he should have the “run of the chicken coop” as he seems to believe. He has been praised and lauded over for years. There are critics who claim that his “lifetime ban” should not prevent him from entering the Hall of Fame.
They claim his numbers should speak for him. But that is nothing more than feeding Rose’s ego and giving him more entitlement. Pete Rose made a conscious decision to break the “most rigorous” rule baseball has. He chose to ignore the gambling issue because he figured he was Pete Rose.
Critics also say that it is unfair for him because other players who are suspected of using PEDs like Mark McGuire and Barry Bonds are still associated with the game. Problem is that PEDs and gambling are two different things.
Players who used PEDs were cheaters. The cheated their teammates, other players and fans. So far, those players have been denied entrance into the Hall of Fame by the voting press. The other side is that there has been no “proof beyond a reasonable doubt” that they took the drugs. That is because the drug testing for PEDs really did not exist.
I believe that PED users should be banned from baseball for life as well. The new drug policy makes that possible under its punishment policy. But, Rose broke a rule that was fully known and on the books for over 60 years when he violated it.
His lack of remorse and his contradictory statements since his mess began proves he believes he is bigger than the game. He doesn’t understand, or refused, to understand his errors. He still blames baseball for his lifetime ban.
That is the entitlement part of all of this. He is Peter Rose, Mr. Hustle! He believes he deserves to be in the Hall and won’t accept that it was his own actions that keeps him from being there.
He has shown his ego over the years with his “autograph” sessions in Cooperstown during Hall of Fame weekend. He is trying to show that he is bigger than the game.
As Manfred wrote:
Most important, whatever else a ‘reconfigured life’ may include, in this case, it must begin with a complete rejection of the practices and habits that comprised his violations of Rule 21.
I applaud Manfred’s rejection of Rose’s reinstatement. In my opinion, Pete Rose has no place in baseball, nor does he deserve enshrinement in the Hall of Fame. Yes, he was a terrific baseball player. That does not excuse his deliberate violation of the game’s rules.
To those who claim he “deserves a second chance” I say he already got that second chance. Again, he refused to follow the recommendations that might have resulted in a different decision.
As with all people who live a life of entitlement and self-importance, Pete Rose will never “get it.” Just like all of the PED users, domestic abusers, and others who believe their “talent” lets them get away with their crimes or abuses.
Hopefully, Manfred’s decision in this case will open the door to other “abuses” that need to be more rigorously addressed in professional sports. Then we will really have something to cheer about in sports.