We all know the story by now. Pete Rose bet on baseball, and has been banned from the game ever since. Charlie Hustle broke baseball’s most sacred rule, #1 on the Ten Commandments in baseball: “No betting on the game, period!” It stains the integrity of the game, cheating the fans out of a “real and true” experience. Major League Baseball and professional sports in general strive to build up credibility with the fans that keep the business going, and Rose diminished that credibility. There is no way around it; Pete Rose put the game in jeopardy with his gambling exploits. But if baseball’s all-time Hit King must pay the price, shouldn’t all players that damage the game’s credibility and integrity pay that same ultimate price?
Baseball must rewrite the rulebook. The most sacred rule should now read: No performance enhancing drugs may be used for any reason, period!” Steroids are staring the sport in the eye, and taking its credibility every day. It affects every game that every user ever played in—a number far greater than the games compromised by Pete Rose’s gambling. But steroid users are absolved and allowed to appear on the Hall of Fame ballot.
When Pete Rose was banned, baseball commissioner Bart Giamatti broke the news:
“One of the game’s greatest players has engaged in a variety of acts which have stained the game, and he must now live with the consequences of those acts.”
The same line could be used today: “Many of the game’s greatest players have engaged in a variety acts which have stained the game, and they must now live with the consequences of those acts.”
Pete Rose gambled on baseball every day. The steroid users cheated outright, every day.
The commissioner continued with his announcement that Rose would never see the light of a dugout or Cooperstown’s halls ever. “There had not been such grave allegations since the time of Landis,” the commissioner said. Landis, of course, was baseball’s commissioner when the Black Sox scandal of 1919 rocked baseball. Shoeless Joe Jackson and seven others were banned from the game for life. Now, Rose was doomed for the same fate.
Today, the commissioner would just need to say, “There had not been such grave allegations since the time of Giamatti.” Giamatti was the commissioner that sent Pete Rose into baseball exile. Now, though, it would be a reference to the steroid abusers doomed for the lifetime ban. A list that grows every few months and is now too long to go through.
Rick Weinberg looked back on the Rose saga and was amazed at the hole Pete had dug. “The evidence was so staggering that it was difficult to fathom.” The evidence was never-ending: bets, slips, phone calls, and friends were all lined up against him.
Looking at the steroid saga, the evidence is pretty staggering. The evidence and list is never-ending: mail slips, trainers, needles, and teammates all ready to tell the sad story. Yet the evidence and the deed hasn’t been enough for the commissioner to drop the big bomb. Bud Selig hasn’t even contemplated a lifetime ban for these bums. Why?
I don’t see the difference. All of the same ingredients are at work, with a little kick:
-Lack of Integrity. Check.
-Damaging Baseball’s Credibility. Check.
-Permanent Stain on the Game. Check.
According to Major League Rule 21, which was used to ban Mr. Rose:
OTHER MISCONDUCT. Nothing herein contained shall be construed as exclusively defining or otherwise limiting acts, transactions, practices or conduct not to be in the best interests of Baseball; and any and all other acts, transactions, practices or conduct not to be in the best interests of Baseball are prohibited and shall be subject to such penalties, including permanent ineligibility, as the facts in the particular case may warrant. CHECK.
The kick: They actually affected the game on the field. At least Rose earned every single hit he got during his career. His shortcomings came later. For some reason, the on the field aspect is lost in all of this. They are blatantly cheating. So…Bam!
That seems to be about right. Major League Rule 21 needs a little addition to be more specific. The steroid problem appears to fall into other misconduct. It has already been declared “not to be in the best interests of Baseball” over the last decade. Baseball has tried to clean up its act and create stricter policies. It is clear that steroids are bad. The facts that we have certainly warrant permanent ineligibility. The ingredients are all there. The few that have felt the wrath of the ban like Rose and Jackson are no worse than the juicers. In order to be sure, though, baseball should probably add another clause to Major League Rule 21:
(f) STEROID USE. Any player, who shall use steroids, HGH, or any other performance-enhancing drug in any dosage and for any reason whatsoever shall be declared permanently ineligible.
So, Mr. Selig and Major League Baseball, I ask you to take a look at the old rulebook. Steroid use has ruined the game for the last twenty years, and it’s clear that these clowns will continue to spit in the game’s face until something serious is done. The apologies are embarrassing and should not be accepted. Pete’s hasn’t and shouldn’t be. But A-Rod, Mac, Andy and the rest of the crew are drawing up Oscar performances and then slipping back into baseball’s society. A fifty game suspension doesn’t get the message across. Manny makes millions every year, what are fifty games to him (he doesn’t care about the team anyway). The message needs to be louder and clearer. Maybe then, the tears would be real. When A-Rod’s career is over at thirty and Barry’s legacy is literally erased from the game’s history.
Every time the users take the field, we will be reminded of the game’s dirty problem, and the questions will remain. The cheating will take more forms and the risk will be worth it without a tough penalty waiting for them. Ask Pete how bad it hurts and you won’t need an answer. Ask A-Rod and he’ll smile, say sorry, and say he’s learned his lesson. The problem is, we’ll never know if he did. And his name will get the honor of being placed on the Hall of Fame ballot in 20 years. That is embarrassing enough. There should be no debate for McGwire. His name should have never been there, then there is no debate.
I say, let’s make them learn their lesson when they can never pick that bat up again, and they’re only 28. Maybe then, this mess will be cleaned up and baseball can be that pure and fun-loving kid’s game again.
What’d ya say, Bud, it’s just 28 more words to the rulebook, and maybe less headaches for you? Just sign here. It’s the only way.