Pete Rose is continuing his quest for reinstatement from Major League Baseball’s ineligible list, and this time he has ammunition: the Houston Astros cheating scandal.
ESPN’s Don Van Natta reported on Wedensday that Rose, who has been banned from the sport since 1989 for betting on baseball (and his own team) while managing the Cincinnati Reds, asked MLB commissioner Rob Manfred for reinstatement in a 20-page petition obtained by ESPN. The petition cites the lack of punishment for Astros players in the cheating scandal to argue that Rose should be reinstated.
“There cannot be one set of rules for Mr. Rose and another for everyone else,” the petition says, via ESPN. “No objective standard or categorization of the rules violations committed by Mr. Rose can distinguish his violations from those that have incurred substantially less severe penalties from Major League Baseball.”
There are, of course, some issues with this comparison. The Astros illegally stole signs using technology to win games. Rose, on the other hand, bet on baseball — including his own team — while he was a manager, which implies a different kind of cheating: He could have abused his power as a manager (setting lineups, removing pitchers, etc.) to help him win bets. The Astros cheated to win more games, while Rose bet on baseball (and could have altered the outcome of games) to win money. Both are bad, but they’re different — hence the different set of rules.
Rose’s lawyer Mark Rosenbaum, the director of Public Counsel Opportunity Under Law who is representing Rose pro bono, had already anticipated that argument in the petition.
“It has never been suggested, let alone established, that any of Mr. Rose's actions influenced the outcome of any game or the performance of any player,” the petition reads. “Yet for the thirty-first year and counting, he continues to suffer a punishment vastly disproportionate to those who have done just that. Given the manner in which Major League Baseball has treated and continues to treat other egregious assaults on the integrity of the game, Mr. Rose's ongoing punishment is no longer justifiable as a proportional response to his transgressions.”
No Astros players were punished in the wake of the cheating scandal, which is what Rose’s argument is built on. However, the MLB Players Association actually made a deal with Manfred and MLB to grant Astros players immunity from punishment in exchange for their truthful accounting of the cheating scheme. It’s not that Manfred didn’t think the infraction deserved severe punishment; he just wanted the truth more.
Rose, 78, has sought reinstatement several times from MLB, most recently in 2015. Manfred denied him, writing in a statement that Rose “has not presented credible evidence of a reconfigured life,” and allowing him to be reinstated would present “an unacceptable risk of a future violation by him of Rule 21, and thus to the integrity of our sport.”
Rose lives in Las Vegas and places legal sports bets, which he would be allowed to do even if he was reinstated. MLB rule 21(d) states that only players, umpires, and MLB/team employees and officials are barred from making bets on baseball. In a recent interview with ESPN’s Backstory, Rose said that he has “reconfigured” his life and no longer makes illegal bets.
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