Most sports fans are familiar with Pete Rose’s story by now but if you aren’t here’s a quick background. Rose played the majority of his baseball career for the Cincinnati Reds and retired as the all time MLB hits leader, a record that he still holds today. Rose would eventually return to manage the Reds where he got into trouble; in 1989 he was caught placing bets on his team win games, (reportedly not only as a manager but in his playing days as well) which comes with a lifetime ban from the sport. To this day Rose is still banned which means that although he may be the greatest hitter of all time he will never receive the highest honour of being inducted into the Major League Baseball Hall of Fame. Rose has filed an appeal for reinstatement on four separate occasions, being turned down all four times. Rob Manfred took over as MLB commissioner to start the 2015 season so with a new man charge Rose once again filed an appeal for reinstatement. Manfred has now promised a deliberation by the end of this year, “On Thursday, September 24th, Commissioner Rob Manfred met with Pete Rose and his representatives at Major League Baseball’s New York office regarding Mr. Rose’s application for reinstatement. Commissioner Manfred informed Mr. Rose that he will make a decision on his application by the end of the calendar year. Both parties have agreed to refrain from further comment.”-Statement released by Major League Baseball
Does he deserve to be reinstated?
This is a challenging ethical question since on one hand Rose knew better than to bet on baseball. After an infamous betting scandal in 1919 where eight players from the Chicago Black Sox took money from gamblers in return for intentionally losing games everyone knew that participating in betting on the sport while playing came with a lifetime ban. In addition to this previous incident it is clearly outlined in the MLB rulebook as well:
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.
Pete Rose has become the poster boy for the severity that the MLB views gambling on baseball if you’re involved with the sport. His lifetime ban being upheld sends a message to current players that gambling will not be tolerated. Many people associated with Major League Baseball agree that Rose deserves to continue serving his lifetime suspension including former Los Angeles Dodgers manager Tommy Lasorda, who when asked about the topic said, “You have got to be out. He has got to be suspended for life…If you are stupid enough to go out and bet on your own team and bet on baseball, there has got to be something wrong. If my brother did it I’d say the same thing.” –Tommy Lasorda, Hall of Fame Manager.
Now looking at the other side of the spectrum, everyone agrees that Rose deserved to be punished for his actions, however is the severity really necessary? As a society we have been historically forgiving, we’ve forgiven many criminals who have committed terrible crimes but haven’t found it within ourselves to forgive a man for betting on baseball. Bobby Valentine former New York Mets manager spoke with Sports Illustrated recently and said,
“There’s a big sign on the wall, we all know that,” Valentine says. “Gambling is not allowed. And I think it’s a societal situation now, he served his 25 years, you know, murder’s not allowed either, but second-degree murder, you can get out of jail after 25 years.”-Bobby Valentine, former manager.
Even taking a look inside Major League Baseball we find a plethora of situations where players and managers have been pardoned for seemingly inexcusable acts. Mark McGwire was found guilty of using performance enhancing drugs and he now works in the sport. Alex Rodriguez, Ryan Braun and Nelson Cruz were all suspended for the use of performance enhancing drugs and they’re all back playing the game and being celebrated as great athletes. Leo Desrocher, the manager who used a buzzer and telescope system to tip his batters on what the next pitch would, which allowed his New York Giants to win the 1951 National League pennant, is in the Hall of Fame.
This being said I feel strongly that as each of these men before him have been forgiven for their mistakes, Rose should be giventhe same courtesy by Major League Baseball. Although Pete Rose may not have been ethical in his actions it would also be unethical of us as a society not to forgive him. He has paid his dues so now lets give him the credit he deserves as an all time great baseball player and put him in the Hall of Fame.
Woo, Jeremy. “Sports News, Scores and Highlights from Sports Illustrated.”SI.com. N.p., n.d. Web. 23 Nov. 2015.
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Weinberg, Rick. “Pete Rose Banned From Baseball.” ESPN. ESPN Internet Ventures, 09 Apr. 2004. Web. 23 Nov. 2015