Why MLB's new cheating scandal isn't a reason for Pete Rose to get a pass for staining the game

What a week. We just went through an unprecedented four-day span in January, as far as Major League Baseball news goes. Unfortunately, it wasn't exactly good news for the league, though I do commend the work commissioner Rob Manfred is doing thus far in an attempt to prevent things from continuing down this path as we head to the 2020s. 

Even more unfortunately, Pete Rose is back in the news. No matter the scandal, Pete always comes around and starts telling everyone how what he did wasn't nearly as bad and how he was so unfairly punished by Major League Baseball. 

It's a total load of garbage, too. 

Here's Rose to nj.com

"I bet on my own team to win," Rose said. "That's what I did in a nutshell. I was wrong, but I didn't taint the game. I didn't try to steal any games. I never voted against my team. I bet on my team every night because that's the confidence that I had in my players. And I was wrong.  

As Pete likes to do, this is selective and revisionist. All evidence points to Rose gambling on the Reds while both as a player and manager, but not every single game. The Dowd Report found that Rose bet on 52 Reds games in 1987. 

There's a credibility factor with Rose, too. Let us recall ... 

  • Rose denied the allegations that he bet on baseball for years, starting with the investigation in 1989.
  • In 2002, Rose admitted to then-commissioner Bud Selig that he did bet on baseball while managing the Reds, which also was an admission he had been lying for well over a decade. He also maintained he never bet while playing, only as a manager.
  • In 2015, we find out Rose did bet as a player.

Every time there's a scandal in baseball, we have to deal with Rose's situation. The selective morality is astounding to me. Major League Baseball would have ceased to exist if the rampant gambling and game-fixing weren't shut down in the aftermath of the Black Sox scandal. This rule was put into place: 

Rule 21 MISCONDUCT, (d) BETTING ON BALL GAMES, 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.  

It's right there, people. The rule was in place when Rose was a baseball player and it didn't go away once he was only a manager. It was always there. There were signs in every clubhouse. He knew the penalty, if caught, was being permanently ineligible and he did it anyway. He made his bed. 

There is no permanent ban in place for sign stealing. There is a permanent ban in place now for a third failed PED test. There aren't retroactive penalties for either of these issues. 

There is, however, an explicit rule that was in place throughout Rose's career and he didn't care. He broke it anyway. Let us also recall that Rose accepted the permanent ban in return for MLB agreeing to make no formal findings. 

Rose claims he didn't taint the game, and that's dead wrong. He did. He bet on baseball games in which he was directly involved. That taints the game. 

As to his claim that he only bet on his team, well, that hasn't been proven. John Dowd stated in 2002 that while he didn't have evidence, he believed that Rose actually did bet against the Reds on occasion. Regardless of whether he did or didn't, there is evidence that Rose did not -- as he falsely claimed above -- bet on the Reds every single game. 

Given that he was manager in 1987 and didn't bet on the Reds every game, he totally tainted the game. There is evidence that Rose bet on 52 games in 1987. That's roughly one-third of the games. 

Let's say that's how many times he bet on the Reds. That means that two out of every three games he didn't. So in the one game he did bet on the Reds, it seems pretty easy to see that he'd use his best relievers and manage harder to win the games when he had money on the line. His team trails early when he didn't bet on his team? Why not remove some of the starting position players to rest them and use the bottom-feeding relievers and prepare the team to win the next time he bet on them to win, right? 

As for the people who crow about how the Hall of Fame isn't complete without him, there's an exhibit for Rose breaking the career hits record. He just hasn't been individually honored with a bust and that's because he chose to stain the game by breaking Rule 21 on multiple occasions. And he lied about it for decades. Then when he came "clean," he lied about not doing it as a player. 

(Not to mention, Mr. Squeaky Clean has long been accused of using corked bats when he played).

I know there's a segment of the baseball community that will always wear Rose-colored glasses when it comes to his case for the Hall, but it's totally misguided. Get a new hero. This guy made his bed decades ago and keeps making it. 

CBS Sports Writer

Matt Snyder has been a baseball writer with CBS Sports since 2011. A member of the BBWAA, he's now covered every World Series since 2010. The former Indiana University baseball player now lives on the... Full Bio

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