Pete Rose Asks Who He Hurts When Legally Gambling on Sports
As pitchers and catchers report to Major League Baseball spring training complexes, the debate about baseball gambling begins anew. All-time hits leader Pete Rose is the latest to weigh in on the ongoing sports betting debate.
Pete Rose Asks “Who Cares?”
Rose, who has been barred from the Hall of Fame for decades because he bet on baseball, said, “Who cares if I want to make a legal bet and go home and watch it? Who am I hurting? I’m not hurting anybody, I’m living my life.”
Pete Rose was barred from Major League Baseball in the early 1990s for gambling on Cincinnati Reds games while the Reds’ manager. Rose insisted at the time (and for decades since) that he never bet against his own team, though some sports writers have disputed that claim.
4 Baseball Commissioners against Rose
Rose’s conduct was questioned during the commissionership of A. Barlett Giamatti. After Giamatti died, his replacement, Fay Vincent, banned Rose from baseball for life. Vincent’s two successors, Bud Selig and Rob Manfred, each rejected petitions from Pete Rose to be reinstated.
With current MLB Commissioner Rob Manfred on record saying he is open to reconsidering Major League Baseball’s stance on sports betting, Pete Rose appears to sense an opening to have his case reconsidered. If baseball is not against sports gambling, then Pete Rose thinks its commissioner should reconsider his ban for gambling on baseball.
Pete Rose suggested that he is being singled-out, as other members of the Hall of Fame have had their moral failings. Rose said, “I know a lot of guys in the Hall of Fame. The Hall of Fame is not full of altar boys. You want me to reconfigure my life? Tell me what you want me to do.”
The Pete Rose Betting Scandal
Detractors of Pete Rose would say that his case is special. While gambling on sports is not illegal if done through the proper channels, betting on games which one can influence is unethical at best. If gamblers and regular sports fans knew that the manager of an MLB club was betting on the game, they always would wonder if the manager made decisions based on their betting circumstance.
It is a slippery slope, and one few people would advocate. Because Major League Baseball has to assure its fandom that its games are legitimate, they have rules against players and managers betting on games. When players and managers are found violating the rules, they are dealt with harshly.
How Long Is Enough?
Pete Rose supporters argue that he has been punished enough. As the all-time hits leader, Pete Rose should have been a first-ballot Hall of Fame selection. His gambling habits and his lack of contrition led to the long ban, and most sports writers seem to support that ban.
The question is: should the punishment be a lifetime thing? Should Pete Rose have his bust in the Baseball Hall of Fame? If so, should that bust note his gambling scandal? Is the history of baseball complete without the story of its all-time leader in hits?
Rob Manfred’s Dilemma with Sports Betting
Those questions might be problematic for some, but the longstanding antipathy towards sports betting means Rob Manfred is consistent. If the NBA and MLB no longer supported the PASPA law and sports betting became legal at the federal level of government, it would be harder to justify a lifetime ban on Pete Rose. Many already say Rose should not be given the same treatment Shoeless Joe Jackson was given, however obnoxious he might be in presenting his case.
The Pete Rose appearance on Joe Buck’s talk show is just another reminder of how complicate the sports betting issue is for baseball executives, and sports executives in general. Major pro sports are not just a business, but they are a public relations game. To keep fans watching, the commissioners and owners must pay heed to public opinion and, even more so, popular sentiment. If Rob Manfred and Adam Silver help strike down PASPA — or if PASPA is struck down by the US Supreme Court — then public opinion and popular sentiment might be harder to control.
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