By ANDREW MORRIS
College Contributor Network
Pete Rose didn't hold back when speaking to a Pittsburgh radio station about a year ago, stating "I should have picked alcohol or beaten my wife...those guys get second chances."
Rose has a point, and it's the same one he's been arguing ever since his lifetime ban began in 1989.
"Charlie Hustle" was banned from professional baseball for gambling on the sport that he once dominated. Aug. 24 marked the 25th anniversary of his ban, and Rose hopes he will not have to see a 26th. He has considerable support too, with a recent ESPN poll stating 81 percent of people want to see him reinstated.
While he may not be able to play anymore, he could still manage, hold a front office position, or be elected to the Hall of Fame -- which seems to be the biggest issue in the rekindled debate.
Most people I personally asked about the idea held a similar stance: he bet on his team, he lied about breaking the rules, and he's a cheater in the vein of the 1919 Chicago White Sox -- but this view is horribly wrong.
For a little background, Rose is a Cincinnati native and was absolutely everything to the hometown Reds. The man had 4,256 hits -- that would be the most all-time, if he were allowed back in. For comparison, Derek Jeter -- the soon-to-be-retired man who all the hullaballoo is about this season -- doesn't even have 3,500. Further, Rose was a .303 lifetime hitter with 1,314 RBIs -- not too shabby.
Rose was sensational to watch, he had 135 of the most hard-earned triples ever. All you have to do is watch one of his highlight reels to understand that no other player in the game better defined passion, grit, and sheer love of the game better than Rose. If he were still in the game, he would be a first ballot Hall of Famer. Of that, there is no doubt.
But yes, he cheated. And lied about it, too. Rose finally admitted to gambling on baseball, and on his own team as a player and manager, but denied the still strong rumors that he bet against the Reds.
Now, here's where my argument starts. There is photo evidence from his notebooks that Rose did not bet on the Reds losing. Even if there weren't these books, any person who watched him knew that he played with so much ferocity and Michael Jordan-esque competitiveness, that tossing a game and not giving 100% as a player or as a manager would be out of the question.
Another thing to keep in mind, and something Rose explained on the Pittsburgh radio show, is how hypocritical and unfair the MLB can be during times of scandal. The league has historically turned a blind eye to many major scandals either in the hopes the attention will die down or because those scandals have indirectly increased the league's revenue -- the most recent case of steroid use is a spot-on example here.
For decades, the MLB had known of PED's increasing home-run totals. They knew that if made public, the league would see huge drops in approval, ratings, and television revenue. Their first course of action was to beat around the bush – search players for corked bats and examine the "livelier" baseballs. The last thing the league wanted to do was get rid of these players using illegal substances because the entire nation was swept up in the home-run parade that dominated highlight reels.
So, now the bomb has dropped and MLB, along with dozens of other famous sluggers, have taken the hit. To all of these players, it's a singed corner of an impressive resume. No lifetime ban for juicing, just some minor suspensions while many of the players haven't even been punished.
Their names are still on the Hall of Fame ballots. Second chances.
Now, Rose is by no means a clean man -- he did gamble on baseball and he did lie about it. However, he didn't cheat to gain an upper hand on the opponent or willingly let the opponent gain an upper hand on him.
What he did do was push himself and his players to give that much more and he was wrong in trying to make money off it. Regardless, it's wildly unfair to bar such an integral part of the game's history, while many other figures haven't been punished for far worse crimes.
Andrew Morris is a sophomore at Syracuse University. His friends refer to him in the third person and he has an everlasting love for Major League Baseball, the St. Louis Cardinals, Oakland A's, Golden State Warriors, and Indianapolis Colts. Follow him on Twitter: @Andrewmo123
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