Saturday, August 22, 2009

Schmidt On Rose

In a lengthy piece in the Inquirer, Mike Schmidt makes an impassioned plea on behalf of Pete Rose for lifting his lifetime ban from baseball and allowing him to be considered for the Hall of Fame. Among the key arguments Schmidt makes on behalf of his former teammate are these:

Pete bet on the Reds to win, never to lose. He never managed with the intention of not winning. Do you believe for one second the gambling underworld was tuned into Pete's betting habits? Pete never bet big or long enough to sway the gambling line. This has all been dressing to make it clear where gambling can lead. I'm not trying to say it's not serious , it is , but I'm asking you to compare its impact on the game to steroid use.

Steroid players knowingly ingested chemicals that gave them an unfair advantage over clean players. Not only were they compromising the game's integrity, they were jeopardizing the long term for short-term financial gain, confusing baseball history. And, oh yes, some might've broken the law.

Pete bet on his team to win and has been banished from baseball for life. Manny Ramirez, Alex Rodriguez et al, bet that they would get bigger, stronger and have a distinct advantage over everyone and that they wouldn't get caught. Which is worse? Does the penalty fit the crime?

Elsewhere in the piece Schmidt acknowledges Rose "was living a lie" not only regarding the evidence of his gambling but for nearly twenty years his admission of his activities but is willing to accept at face value he didn't bet on the Reds to lose nor managed in any way that would affect the outcome of a game involving Cincinnati. That's a bet I wouldn't take given Rose's hubris.

Ever since the Black Sox scandal the lords of baseball have recognized how gambling, especially by the participants of the game, could completely undermine baseball's integrity. Pete Rose knew this, not only because the Commissioner sent his emissaries to every club every spring to remind them of this rule among others, but also because Rose knew baseball history. Still, he decided he was above the law.

Schmidt argues steroid users were in greater violation of the rules with far more dire consequences for the game than was Rose, but the whole matter of comparing two crimes (as defined by baseball) is hardly sufficient justification for forgiving either one.

No comments: