If you have read my previous articles about Pete Rose, you will be surprised by this, but many things have changed in the last few years, and my opinion has now been swayed. I grew up a Reds fan in the 1970s, but I will be the first to admit I was more of a Johnny Bench guy and always took Pete as arrogant and off-putting. That is insufficient to keep a man out of the Hall of Fame. Rule 21, on the other hand, was. The big word here is WAS!
I usually don’t like it when people use ‘What the other guy did’ (whataboutism) as an argument to defend their own actions. You know how this argument goes, Canseco, McGwire and the rest of the steroid users don’t get banned but Pete did. Will rule 21 clearly states that you can NOT bet on baseball as gambling was the giant albatross in the room for professional baseball. Today I think it’s time to take a look at the other guys and, more importantly, to take a look at Major League Baseball and how it has changed in the last year or two.
Remember up until the movie Field of Dreams there was no significant outcry to let Jackson in the Hall of Fame but the movie painted Shoeless Joe in a better light than he had ever been portrayed before. Now Jackson is a sympathetic figure. Should he have been inducted? I know this is not a popular answer, but no, he shouldn’t have been. You know the old argument, he hit .375, the only home run in the World Series and no errors, but when you look closer, especially at the first two games of the World Series, ones that were widely known to be “thrown” games, one thing will stick out to you. In games 1,4, and 5, the first three White Sox losses, Joe Jackson was 1-12! So his damage was done in non-fixed games! Games 1 and 4 were the most scrutinized when it came to the fix being in, and in those two games, Jackson was 0-8. Jackson also admitted accepting 5,000 dollars to throw the World Series, but he claimed he played at his absolute best. It seems one heck of a coincidence that his worst games were in matches widely acknowledged to be rigged! Plus, couldn’t have told Major League Baseball that the fix was in and refused the money?
The other problem here to me is gambling was known to be rampant in baseball the first 20 years of the 20th century. And 1919 was possibly not the first fixed World Series.
It seems possible that the White Sox got the idea to throw the 1919 World Series after the Cubs did the same thing one year earlier. At least that’s what star White Sox pitcher Eddie Cicotte claimed. Cicotte was one of the infamous Black Sox banned from baseball after their tainted World Series against Cincinnati.
In a 1920 court deposition the Chicago History Museum recently put on its website, Cicotte said “the boys on the club” talked about how a Cub or a number of Cubs were offered $10,000 to throw the 1918 series, and they lost 4-2 to the Boston Red Sox.
Cicotte was as vague as he could be, failing to name any names or providing details about how the players might have done it, or even if he believes the Cubs threw the series. But if what he suggested is true? It means that when it came to fixing baseball games in the early 20th century, Chicago was nobody’s “Second City”.
Regular season games were also known to be fixed at this time and reasonably regularly. The 1919 World Series was not the genesis of the original investigation. Once they had the 1919 White Sox, it seemed they just made an example of them and forgot about the rest. Too many fixes would not be suitable for business.
So here is an argument I always hate: What’s worse, throwing a World Series or betting on games as a manager with no concrete proof he fixed a game?
Come on! Baseball used the steroids of the 1990s to bring excitement back to the game. I guarantee they knew it was going on, but it is easy to ignore when you are profiting off of the use. Steroids also affect the integrity of the game. I know most of those guys have not been inducted, but I think a few have slid through the cracks, and Mark McGwire is coaching in the games! Why are they not banned permanently? I know there was no rule 21 forbidding it, but that’s a bunch of crap! No rule 21 existed until gambling became a problem for baseball. To this day you get suspended a certain number of games for using steroids, but no permanent banishment, unless you get busted repeatedly.
Now we have the integrity of the World Series games affected by sign-stealing. Now when I first heard about the Astros sign-stealing I thought everybody tries to steal signs. Then I found out about video equipment being used and drums and buzzers under uniform shirts, and what happened? The guys in charge lost their jobs. That’s great. Well not really because they are not banned forever like the gamblers. Why is that? How could that be? Nothing is done to the players, but I guarantee you the players KNEW what they were doing was wrong, and I hate to tell Major League Baseball this, but just like Rule 21, this affects the integrity of the game. If you don’t believe me ask the players on the Dodgers or any other number of teams that were screwed by this? Is this not worse than what Pete Rose did? Of course, it’s worse, but the punishment will not fit the crime here.
How about this: Beginning two seasons ago on Opening Day, managers will be required to submit their lineup cards to the commissioner’s office 15 minutes before they are made public, so they can then be sent on to MLB’s new gaming partner, MGM Resorts, to set the betting lines on each game. This is a big joke now and it’s hard to believe more don’t see how messed up this is! Once again, just like in the case of steroids, Major League Baseball does not worry much about integrity when they can make a lot of money. I could go on and on about this “partnership” but the very thought that managers have to send lineups in at a required time for Vegas to set the line says all that needs to be said here.
I would implore Major League Baseball to do the right thing, but they have a rule against that now. Rule 21 used to make this a no-brainer to me that Pete should not get in, but the hypocrisy of baseball has changed this entirely for me. Why don’t we just let everybody in, no matter what they did? Rose and Jackson affected the integrity of the game but so did the recent sign-stealers and all of the steroid cheats, and let’s face it, some steroid cheats have gotten a pass while others haven’t.
Does Rose belong in the hall? No, he doesn’t, but a blind eye is being turned to a lot of steroid cheats getting in the hall, and the sign stealers will get in, so why not allow Rose in? By the way that means Jackson should get in also.
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