Gambling again

So now there’s a gambling scandal in the NHL. Not as bad as the Pete Rose thing, but still bad. This time, we have a former player involved in betting and possible money laundering and other stuff. The NHL has already stated that there is no evidence indicating that anyone involved was betting on hockey, which is the big difference between this and the Pete Rose case. Ever since Rose was banned from baseball (and therefore the Hall of Fame), I’ve been of the opinion that he should be reinstated, since there is no evidence that he threw games or ever bet against the team he was managing.

If you want to simply follow the letter of the law, then the case is closed. Baseball players, coaches, managers, etc. are prohibited by Major League Baseball from betting on baseball games. Rose has admitted that he did bet on baseball while manager of the Cincinatti Reds, so he’s done. But perhaps we shouldn’t look at the letter of the law – perhaps the question should be: is this a just rule? I’ve always thought that unless you are betting against your own team and/or throwing games, then betting on baseball should not be prohibited. However, after listening to some comments on the radio today, I think I’ve changed my mind. The rule is just, and Pete Rose should be banned from baseball. Here’s why.

In 2004, Rose admitted (after 15 years of denial) that he did indeed bet on baseball games involving the Reds, which he was managing at the time. Perhaps he never bet against the Reds, but he also did not bet for the Reds in each and every game. It’s possible that in the late stages of a season, when the playoff hopes were gone, he’d bet on the Reds to win a game, and not bet on them to win the next game. This could make him do whatever he could to win the first game, possibly at the expense of the second. Maybe he rearranges when pitchers are starting, or brings in more relief pitchers or pinch hitters than he normally would, to ensure that game 1 is a win. If there were no bets, he might do things differently to save players for the next game, but if he didn’t bet on the next game, his judgement, and therefore his decisions, will not be the same. This is not exactly throwing game 2, but it’s close, and damn near impossible to prove. This is what Rose critics mean when they say he compromised the integrity of the game.

Another thing I’d never considered is that when a rich person gets involved in gambling, it’s not unlikely that he may meet some “connected” people, i.e. the mob. If he needs a loan, or is otherwise indebted to the mob for whatever reason, they may force him to throw games as part of repaying said debts. This could happen even if you’re not betting on your own sport – if a baseball player (who’s not allowed to bet on baseball) gets involved with the mob while betting on football, the same thing could happen.

MLB commissioner Bud Selig has stated on numerous occasions that Rose will not be reinstated as long as he’s commissioner, so Pete may have to wait until a new commissioner is elected to try for reinstatement again. Good luck Pete, but I wouldn’t hold my breath.


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