Question: what will happen to Rose?

Published 11:23 pm Saturday, July 18, 2015

After a couple of hours conversing about nearly every pertinent topic while sitting on his bed in Room 126 of Jo-Lin Health Care, Bill Lawless got down to brass taxes with his next question.

“What are they going to do about Pete Rose?”

I couldn’t give him a definite answer. I don’t think anyone can. But the answer may lie in history and hypocrisy.

When a student asks why do we have to learn about history, we tell them, “if you don’t know history, you’re doomed to repeat it.” Not only is that true, it seems to happen all the time.

Pete Rose being banned from baseball in 1989 as player-manager of the Cincinnati Reds for betting on baseball and taking a lifetime ban isn’t the first time this incidence has occurred.

Judge Kenesaw Mountain Landis was the commissioner of baseball from 1920 to 1944. He was the judge, jury and executioner in the 1919 World Series gambling scandal involving the Chicago White Sox — Black Sox as it became known due to the scandal — and imposed a lifetime ban on the eight players believed to be involved in throwing the World Series to the Cincinnati Reds.

Joe Jackson said he didn’t take a bribe from gamblers and led the series in batting average at .375 while playing flawless defensively. Landis ignored those facts among others.

However, two of the game’s greatest players at that time were Ty Cobb and Tris Speaker. Both abruptly stepped down as player-managers in 1926 when they were caught gambling. They were later acquitted, but never returned to baseball after the 1928 season, presumably as an agreement to remain on the Hall of Fame eligibility list.

And their acquittal wasn’t necessarily over the facts. It is believed that they weren’t banned because they threatened to tell even more details about the gambling in baseball and Landis didn’t want any more scandals in his effort to rebuild trust in the game with the fans.

Rose admitted to betting on games, but unlike Cobb and Speaker, he always bet to win. Not Cobb and Speaker. There were several reports they took money to throw games.

And yet both are in the Hall of Fame.

Fast-forward to the 1990s and the baseball strike in August of 1994 that led to no postseason including no World Series.

Then-commissioner Bud “The Dud” Selig ignored all the steroid problems because the home run battles involved Mark McGwire, Sammy Sosa and Barry Bonds were bringing fans back to the game in droves.

Everyone says — and rightly so — that Rose should come clean and admit what he did. McGwire is the only one who admitted to using creatine and other HGHs to aid his performance while the others like Bonds, Sosa, Roger Clemens and Rafael Palmeiro all claim innocence and remain eligible for the Hall of Fame.

As for hypocrisy, one of the sponsors for Major League Baseball is DraftKings. Although technically a game, it is a one-day fantasy game in which a person can pick their team for a day to see if they win. Those winnings are based on how much money they put up.

Sounds like those windows they have at the horse racetracks. The same racetracks Landis blamed for gambling in baseball and he banned MLB owners from having any ownership in horse racing.

Unlike Selig who was an owner turned commissioner, new baseball commissioner Rob Manfred has a law degree and — more importantly — is willing to listen. When he has his meeting with Rose, Manfred will use the facts and hopefully history to render his decision.

Rose may be re-instated although with some restrictions. Then again, he may have to continue with his lifetime ban which seems rather severe.

After all, Paul Hornung and Alex Karras were two of the NFL’s biggest stars in 1963 when they were suspended for one season after it was learned they were betting on their respective teams to win.

No one is justifying what Rose did. Rose himself admits he did this to himself. There are a lot more severe crimes committed in society and the criminals don’t get life sentences. They even get out of jail early for good behavior.

With all that being said, I can answer Bill Lawless and everyone else. What will happen to Pete Rose?

I’ll be damned if I know.

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Jim Walker is sports editor of The Ironton Tribune.