Opinions change as the facts change and that is why I have made a personal change in that I now support the induction into the Hall of Fame for Pete Rose and credit the greedy ownership of the Red Sox and MLB for being the facilitators for a philosophical change.
My first notice of Rose was reading a Baseball Digest in the 1950s. The Digest – a truly wonderful and informative pre ‘net paperback – would put scouting reports of each team’s selected minor league players. Nothing special – just a quick profile with accompanying projections.
In the 1950s I admired the Cincinnati Reds as any true Red Sox fan would. Sox fans loved hitting and the Reds personified that from Ted Kluszewski to Frank Robinson. Collectively, they actually set a team home run record of 221. So the scouting report was of interest.
"“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.”"
The Rose profile was nothing special as they mentioned his hustle, line drive hitting capability and some excerpts on his fielding prowess. What I do remember is their projection that Rose was capable of being a fringe utility player at the MLB level.
The catalyst for punishment of a lifetime ban from baseball was the Black Sox Scandal in 1919. Baseball had tenuous connections to gambling for decades and without a punitive structure firmly in place the game would possibly be viewed as being as legitimate as the WWE.
Rose stepped firmly into that quagmire and gambled. Defend all you wish this was the one unforgivable indiscretion and Rose received the ultimate punishment – banned for life.
Rose the person, player, manager and post baseball celebrity has been well documented. I have read many books about Rose and find him an ethically challenged, morally flawed and egotistical individual – and those are his good points.
Rose has long had legions of supporters who have admired Rose the player for his skills, intensity, obvious love of the game itself and an almost childlike approach. Simply because you admire someone should not be a reason to give them a free pass on unacceptable conduct.
Let Rose into the HOF. Now, based on what I have stated, that certainly represents a contradiction and I have to say it appears that way except for the hypocritical contradiction that MLB now has.
Fantasy sports are huge as in millions, if not billions, of dollars that are gambled. Yes, it is gambling. Then comes the lottery. And, yes, I do, but my weekly $30 scratch ticket – and the lottery is run in 48 states. The lottery is gambling since most lose. So is fantasy sports.
The Red Sox and MLB enjoy a connection to Draft Kings, one of the most prolific of fantasy sites. Even the Commissioner of Baseball, Rob Manfred, spoke about the importance of the relationship. NESN – the media arm of the Red Sox – enjoys a sponsorship connection.
On a recent trip to Kansas City, I noticed lottery machines at “The Big K.” My daughter said they have them at Fenway Park, but I have been oblivious to their presence. The Massachusetts Lottery is also connected to the Red Sox as are lottery sponsors in other states. I use to purchase a Red Sox $5 scratch ticket for every Sox victory. Saving plenty in 2014 and 2015.
The Red Sox had no issue with an employee, Luis Tiant, appearing for a signing at Mohegan Sun – a monstrous casino. This is not unusual. And casinos – like the lottery and Draft Kings (or Fan Duel) – are legal and government sponsored and protected. So baseball has no issue with gambling that is sanctioned. They simply make money off it. Fantasy produces fan interest in person and on television/media and that should be translated into an improved revenue stream. You have skin in the game you will watch.
“Draft Kings – Your fantasy partner of the Boston Red Sox” – NESN commercial
And it certainly is gambling since you are wagering the rent money or mortgage payment on an uncertain outcome – an outcome that could potentially be compromised.
There is quite obviously a clear difference between the illegal gambling Rose participated in, but does that mean everything will remain pristine? Where money is gambled there is opportunity. Even the appearance of potential impropriety should raise flags of storm warnings.
Sports have made a philosophical change in the last few years and have embraced a connection to gambling. Of course we all know that nothing illegal will ever take place to compromise the integrity of the game. Would you bet on it?
So now baseball feels comfortable with connections to gambling and I certainly feel comfortable for allowing Rose into the HOF. Hell, get Joe Jackson in!
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