Friday, August 15, 2003

This Is It

This has to be the last time I defend Pete Rose. Yes, his wagering on games may have had a deleterious effect on his team's chances, just like players in contract years padding individual stats (less of a problem in baseball than other sports) or general managers benching players to prevent them from reaching high-dollar milestones. It's all bad news, but when gambling's involved, punishments must be meted out; I am merely suggesting that it isn't really as bad as throwing games, and that 14 years of banishment is probably enough. The other major sports have tossed players for using drugs (performance-enhancing as well as . . . mood-enhancing). Not baseball. They won't even test. Gambling is their lightning rod, thanks to the '19 ChiSox, and they can come down so harshly on gamblers that they appear hard-line across the board. Case in point: Willie Aikens did three months in prison for a cocaine arrest, then did just one month of baseball suspension, though commissioner Bowie Kuhn had tried to suspend him for one year. At the same time, Kuhn banned Mickey Mantle . . . Mickey Frickin' Mantle . . . from baseball simply because he took a job as a greeter in an A.C. hotel that had a casino, and Mantle wasn't reinstated for two years.

The eradication of gambling ties to baseball has been MLB's axe to grind, for some time. Pete Rose should have known it before, but I guarantee you he knows it now. And he's taken a 14-year ass-whippin' because of his screw-up. That's enough. Ease up on Charlie Hustle and crack down on guys hustling 'roids in locker rooms. Be done with this controversy, and let us get back to the things that really matter about baseball, like my Mets/Red Sox bet with Rob Russell, my Mets/Phils bet with Rhys Lloyd, my family baseball picks pool . . .

No comments: