When Pete Rose and his attorneys saw that baseball Commissioner Rob Manfred had no intentions of punishing members of the Houston Astros for their part in the cheating scandal, which resulted in a questionable outcome of the 2017 World Series, they applied once again to get Rose on the Baseball Writers’ Association of America’s Hall of Fame ballots. Once again Rose will be denied.
The Rose argument goes this way: While the former player and player-manager denied for quite some time that he bet on baseball games, he eventually admitted he did, but never bet against his team. First, what difference does that make? The problem for Rose is he gambled on baseball games, not which team he bet on. Why does that matter?
Let’s assume an hour before the first pitch, Rose’s bookmaker would take a bet from Rose. That would give inside information to the bookmaker because he would know Rose might keep his starting pitcher in longer than he might have otherwise, and by ignoring the pitch count could lead to an arm injury, which could affect a team’s’ over-under wins total. But that’s not the problem.
Let’s say Rose bet on his team three or four days in a row, meaning he had confidence his team had an advantage. Regardless of whether his team won or lost, and he chose not to bet on the next game or two, figuring his team didn’t match up well against the opposing pitcher. That would also give inside information to the bookie, who easily could pass on that information.
A professional coach once told me a friend of his would call the coach and ask his secretary if there were any lineup changes for the next game. The friend was given the information and he used it to bet for or against the team. The coach had to explain to the secretary why she couldn’t do that because gamblers use every nugget they receive to make their choices.
When I did play-by-play for Kent State University in the mid-1970s, the Golden Flashes had a game scheduled at home against an average team in a major conference. If I were to set up the betting line, which today most players and coaches are aware of, I figured KSU would be an underdog by 16 to 18 points. For some reason the betting line was 10 points, which would be an obvious choice against Kent State.
At 4 o’clock before the night game, I was in the coach’s office getting ready to record a pregame show when the trainer came in to tell the coach his best player got injured in the shoot-around and wouldn’t be able to play. Now, I figured Kent State would lose by at least 25 points, which it did. I could have bet the game or had a friend bet it for me. I would have won the bet and lost my job if word got out.
Now, gambling on games is legal in at least 11 states and Ohio will probably join in soon. Rose got to the party way too soon. Even if members of the Astros are never punished and steroid users are allowed to be voted on for Hall of Fame selection, don’t expect the same for Rose – even posthumously. He knew the rules. There is a sign in every baseball clubhouse warning players about gambling and the people who do it. The all-time hit leader will not get his rightful spot in Cooperstown, no matter who else does.