Pete Rose recently sent a letter to MLB Commissioner Rob Manfred asking for his lifetime ban — which is keeping the league’s all-time hits leader from the Hall of Fame — to be lifted.
On Thursday, Manfred spoke to the media about myriad topics, one of which was the letter sent by Rose. The commissioner emphatically stated that Rose’s “crime” of betting on baseball remains egregious enough for the ban to stand.
“I believe that when you bet on baseball, from Major League Baseball’s perspective, you belong on the permanently ineligible list,” Rob Manfred said. “When I dealt with the issue, the last time he applied for reinstatement, I made clear that I didn’t think that the function of that baseball list was the same as the eligibility criteria for the Hall of Fame.
“That remains my position. I think it’s a conversation that really belongs in the Hall of Fame board. I’m on that board, and it’s just not appropriate for me to get in front of that conversation.”
The interesting piece of information here, though, is that MLB and Manfred benefit greatly from sports betting, now legalized in several US states. It’s only a matter of time before legalized sports betting becomes the norm for states rather than the exception.
So, how can the commissioner state that “when you bet on baseball … you belong on the permanently ineligible list” without looking like a complete hypocrite?
The answer: he can’t.
Sports Betting is a boon for MLB, Rob Manfred
In 2018, when legal sports betting began to take hold in the country, AmericanGaming.org did a study that projected how much the leagues stood make from the new laws. At the time, Major League Baseball projected to earn an extra $1.1 BILLION in revenue.
Here we are, four years later, and legalized betting has only grown. Yet, it’s hard to find numbers on exactly how much MLB is raking in. It’s almost like they want to keep their gambling profits as a secret.
However, we can reasonably surmise that the number has grown from that 2018 figure. Not only do the leagues make money from the partnerships, but the advertising dollars account for a large portion, as well.
Think about the last MLB game you watched on TV. How many different promotions did you see for legalized sportsbooks? They’ve become so ubiquitous you may not even remember seeing them.
But trust me: if you live in a state with legal sports betting, you’re not making it through a three-hour sporting event without multiple commercials urging you to plunk down some cash on the home team.
Yet Pete Rose’s “crime” remains a problem
Despite our changing attitudes toward sports betting, Pete Rose remains banned from baseball. A lifetime ban seems harsh, considering more recent gambling punishments have not reached anywhere near that level.
Consider new Jaguars wide receiver Calvin Ridley. Ridley received an indefinite suspension for betting on a game while he was a member of the Atlanta Falcons. Ridley was away from the team at the time of the alleged betting.
Like Rose, Ridley was accused of betting on his own team without any insider knowledge. Ridley is expected to be cleared to return to the field next season.
So why does baseball continue to take such a strict tact with Rose? It’s unclear. Maybe they enjoy the publicity that they get from this story cropping up every so often. When I worked in sports radio, a common adage was to “play the hits.”
For us, that meant Michael Jordan vs. LeBron James … who’s the GOAT? Who belongs on the Mount Rushmore of … well, anything, really? And, does Pete Rose belong in the Hall of Fame?
The answer to that last one, by the way, is yes.