Redeeming Pete Rose

Legendary third-baseman Mike Schmidt pens an op-ed asking: why is gambling a worse crime for baseball than steroids?

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As Pete Rose comes up on his 20th anniversary of being banned from baseball, the debate about whether the former all-star should be allowed into the Hall of Fame is bound to swirl as it does almost every year. But Mike Schmidt, the legendary former third baseman for the Philadelphia Phillies, offers up one of the freshest and most intriguing angles on the discussion so far. In an Associated Press opinion piece last Sunday Schmidt asks, "did Pete Rose, in fact, knowingly compromise the integrity of baseball? And, did/do the players who used steroids knowingly compromise the integrity of baseball?" He continues:

Pete bet on the Reds to win, never to lose. He never managed with the intention of not winning. Do you believe for one second the gambling underworld was tuned into Pete's betting habits? Pete never bet big or long enough to sway the gambling line. This has all been dressing to make it clear where gambling can lead. I'm not trying to say it's not serious — it is — but I'm asking you to compare its impact on the game to steroid use.

Steroid players knowingly ingested chemicals that gave them an unfair advantage over clean players. Not only were they compromising the game's integrity, they were jeopardizing the long term for short-term financial gain, confusing baseball history. And, oh yes, some might've broken the law.

Schmidt goes on to compare Rose's punishment--banishment--with that of Manny Ramirez, Alex Rodriguex "et al"--suspension--and says,

Pete's banned for life, he sells his autograph to pay bills. Ramirez and his cronies apologize, are forgiven and get $20 million a year. They giggle all the way to the bank and could end up in the Hall of Fame.

Whether Schmidt's call to arms to "consider baseball's inconsistency in dealing with those players who have compromised the game" will ultimately affect current commissioner Bud Selig's decision to let Rose back into baseball is yet to be seen. But Schmidt rounds out his case for the player by asking, "Twenty years have passed, isn't that enough?"
This article is from the archive of our partner The Wire.