Pete Rose: Current Wall of Shamer, Future Hall of Famer


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Considered by most to be America’s pastime, baseball has become one of the largest, most entertaining, most watched, and most respected games in the history of sports. Since its inception in 1936, Major League Baseball has honored those who have excelled in playing, managing, and serving the sport at the National Baseball Hall of Fame and Museum in Cooperstown, New York. Regarded as the highest honor in the history of the sport, the Hall of Fame currently holds a total of 297 inductees, which include 236 players, 20 managers, 9 umpires, and 32 pioneers and executives. These individuals have forever been immortalized and have gained the highest amount of respect for their dedication to the game, but there has been one issue over the last twenty-five years that has stirred one of the greatest debates in the sport’s history, Pete Rose.

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On the night of September 11, 1985, then player-manager Pete Rose of the Cincinnati Reds drove a single to left center off San Diego Padres pitcher Eric Show. Although the hit was not very significant during that particular game, it marked Pete Rose’s 4,192 career hit, thus passing Ty Cobb’s all-time career hits record of 4,191. Gaining widespread acclaim for holding baseball’s all-time hits record with 4,256 career hits, Rose also holds MLB records for games played with 3,562, at-bats with 14,053, and outs with 10,328. A twenty-four year career as a player and a five year career as a manager, three of them as a player-manager, Rose has won three World Series rings, three batting titles, one MVP Award, two Gold Gloves, a Rookie of the Year Award, and was an eighteen time All-Star; he was considering a lock for the baseball Hall of Fame following his retirement from the game.

“On February 20, 1989, Rose met with Commissioner Ueberroth and then National League President Giamatti about gambling allegations. On March 20, Ueberroth announced he would investigate these allegations, selecting a Washington lawyer, John Dowd, to be in charge of the inquiry.”[1] During his investigation, Dowd had interviewed many of Rose’s known associates, which included alleged bookies and bet runners who admitted to taking bets from Rose. When Dowd gave his report to a now one-month in office Commissioner Bart Giamatti on May 9, 1989, it contained Rose’s alleged gambling activities in 1985, ’86, and ’87. Known as the Dowd Report, this 225-page report, accompanied by seven volumes of exhibits, documented Rose’s alleged bets of at least $10,000 on 52 different Reds games in 1987, but “no evidence was discovered that Rose bet against the Reds.”[2] This was still in clear violation of Major League Baseball’s rules, which states, “”Rule 21 MISCONDUCT, (d) BETTING ON BALL GAMES, Any player, umpire, or club or league official or employee, who shall bet any sum whatsoever upon any baseball game in connection with which the bettor has a duty to perform shall be declared permanently ineligible.”[3]

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Commissioner Giamatti was often criticized in the course of the investigation as having a personal vendetta against Pete Rose. During the MLB’s investigation, Rose had sought a restraining order against Giamatti, believing it would put an end to him acting as both a judge and executioner of his case. “Rose found a few sympathetic ears. U.S. District Judge Carl B. Rubin resented “the baseball commissioner entering into what I think is … a vendetta against Pete Rose.” In Ohio, the Hamilton County Common Pleas Judge, Norbert Nadel, stated that he also thought Giamatti had “prejudged Rose.” Many fans also questioned Giamatti’s motives, remembering in particular an incident between Rose and Giamatti in 1988.”[4] When Giamatti was the National League president in 1988, he suspended Rose 30 days for bumping into umpire Dave Pallone, which fans and writers believed was way over the top. Fans often showed how unfair his ruling was when they compared it the four day suspension Giamatti gave a player for throwing a bat at another during that very same season, an act far more severe than Rose’s.

Rose continued to deny the accusations made by Commissioner Giamatti over the next couple of years. Rose filed a lawsuit against the Commissioner in the city of Cincinnati in order so he could get a fair trial. After several court battles over the legality of Giamatti’s ability to decide Rose’s fate, Giamatti and Major League Baseball finally secured a federal hearing for Rose’s case on August 17, 1989. This time around Rose’s appeal was denied, so instead, he decided not attend the hearing. In a plea-bargain settlement, Rose agreed and signed to the following terms,

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“In accord with the agreement signed on August 23, 1989, both Rose and Giamatti were allowed to make public statements regarding the affair “so long as no public statement contradicts the terms of this agreement and resolution.” The agreement also allowed Rose the right to apply for reinstatement in baseball, although he may not, at any time, attempt to contest Giamatti’s decision, or of the decision of any future commissioner. The most curious clause in the contract reads: “Nothing in this agreement shall be deemed either an admission or a denial by Peter Edward Rose of the allegation that he bet on any major league baseball game.”[5]

From Rose’s end, he only asked for one thing in return, “In exchange for his lifetime ban, Rose did not ask for much, only that the MLB refrain from making any “formal findings” in relation to his betting on the Reds.”[6] On August 24, 1989, former Major League Baseball Commissioner Giamatti banished Pete Rose from all involvement in the sport of baseball. Rose was barred from baseball and sentenced to permanent ineligibility from the Hall of Fame for his alleged involvement in gambling on baseball games while he was still playing and managing. Rose voluntarily accepted a place on baseball’s “permanent ineligibility” list and also agreed with Giamatti that he would never challenge his statement when applying for reinstatement in the future. (Below is the signed plea agreement between Giamatti and Rose)

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On February 4, 1991, the Hall of Fame voted formally to exclude individuals on the permanently ineligible list from being inducted into the Hall of Fame. Although it was already considered an “unwritten rule,” the Baseball Writers Association of America voted to make it an official rule for the Hall of Fame, which people believed was in response to Rose’s plea-bargain agreement. Pete Rose was also the only living member on that list at the time and still to this day.

On January 8, 2004, after years of denying the gambling allegations against him, Pete Rose released his autobiography My Prison Without Bars. In his own words, Rose finally admitted to betting on baseball games, as well as other sports, while he was still playing and managing the Cincinnati Reds. “Some folks have even implied that I am unworthy to set foot on a baseball field because of what I’ve done. I’ve never really understood that way of thinking. But I understand now.”[7] That same night, Rose appeared on the ABC news program Primetime Thursday, where in the interview he publically readmitted that he was betting on baseball games, but also admitted that he never bet against the Reds. When asked why he did it, Rose said, “I bet on my team every night. I didn’t bet on my team four nights a week. I bet on my team to win every night because I loved my team, I believed in my team, I did everything in my power every night to win that game.”[8] His hope was that if he came clean to the public, then he be more likely to be reinstated back into baseball so he can live to see himself get into the Hall of Fame.

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Admittedly, Pete Rose willingly violated a known Major League rule and should accept the consequences for his actions. He lied for nearly fifteen years and was trying to gain forgiveness by the baseball community. In today’s world, this case has turned into a moral one, with no need for an investigation or a new trial, but understanding and listening to arguments Rose has made as to why he should be reinstated. He has argued, on numerous occasions, that baseball has allowed many people into the Hall of Fame that have committed worse acts than his.

“If MLB wants to say that placing a bet to win a game is worse than purposely striking one’s comparatively defenseless spouse, then it’s worse, and baseball can impose light sanctions for the latter and lifetime banishment for the former. If MLB has implicitly concluded that a bet on one’s team to win a game more seriously compromises or over-enhances the competitive integrity of the game than does an outfielder pumping himself up on steroids, then so be it.”[9]

When you take into account what Rose has to say, he makes some good points as to why he should be reinstated. How he has handled so much abuse over an act that is less bad than someone beating their wife or men who are on steroids has been amazing. He still played with the integrity of the game and never made a decision that affected the outcomes of games.

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When looking at this case from an ethical standpoint, you really have to address both sides of the situation. First, with Rose, he knowingly violated an established MLB rule and then denied that he did so for nearly fifteen years. As a coach, although he may never have bet against his own team, he still should have business ethics in mind. From a Kantian perspective, Rose had a duty to manage his team and by violating rules, he failed in trying to achieve that duty because he showed his players that they don’t have to respect the rules of the game. He can go around and try to justify the decisions he made by saying he loved his team so much that he knew they could win, but he was getting himself involved in illegal gambling activities with most likely the wrong kind of people. What if situations arose where he was in debt and in order for him to get out of it, he had to start manage the games in order to lose on purpose? He had a duty as manager to make sure not to get in situations like that. I think that is why people take a case like this so seriously and why baseball executives don’t want baseball to be associated with this kind of illegal behavior.

From the current baseball executives’ ethical point-of-view, you are now addressing issues with steroid all over baseball. Currently, baseball today has been dubbed the ‘Steroids Era,’ where we not only see fielders, but pitches as well, taking steroids and Human Growth Hormone in order to increase their strength, stamina, and recovery time. These are the types of issues that should ban people from baseball, as these are performance enhancers. Pete Rose broke records and never once had to pop a pill or inject himself with a needle, he played with his natural talent into his forties. Yes, he violated a rule, but you are treating him as if he was a member of 1919 Black Sox, who threw a World Series in order to win bets of their own. Obviously, these executives believe in a rule-utilitarian philosophy, in that if you commit actions that violate the happiness of others, then there will be consequences for those actions. Which is what major executives should abide by, but as time goes by, the happiness is beginning to swing another way and soon more people will be unhappy that he is not inducted into the Hall of Fame.

From my point-of-view, I think it’s disrespectful to the game that Pete Rose isn’t in the Hall of Fame. The man was one of the best players to play the game and holds multiple Major League records, most which probably will never be broken ever again. Even after he was banned, he was still voted to the All-Century team as outfielder in 1999, meaning he still is respected by players and writers alike. I think Pete Rose will one day become an inductee into the Hall of Fame, but I feel in order for baseball to get their point across, they will wait until after his death to reinstate him, which is a major shame in itself.

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[1] Matthews, G. (1995). Epideictic rhetoric and baseball: Nurturing community through controversy. The Southern Communication Journal, 60(4), 275-275. Retrieved from http://search.proquest.com/docview/226934909?accountid=9784

[2] Dowd, John M. “The Baseball Archive Presents The Dowd Report.” The Baseball Archive Presents The Dowd Report. N.p., n.d. Web. 05 Apr. 2013. <http://seanlahman.com/files/rose/dowd/dowd_ii.html&gt;.

[3] “SoxProspects Wiki – Rule 21.” SoxProspects Wiki – Rule 21. N.p., n.d. Web. 06 Apr. 2013. <http://wiki.soxprospects.com/Rule 21>.

[4] Matthews, G. (1995). Epideictic rhetoric and baseball: Nurturing community through controversy. The Southern Communication Journal, 60(4), 275-275. Retrieved from http://search.proquest.com/docview/226934909?accountid=9784

[5] Matthews, G. (1995). Epideictic rhetoric and baseball: Nurturing community through controversy. The Southern Communication Journal, 60(4), 275-275. Retrieved from http://search.proquest.com/docview/226934909?accountid=9784

[6] Standen, J. (2010). Pete rose and baseball’s rule 21. Nine, 18(2), 134-140,210. Retrieved from http://search.proquest.com/docview/210876794?accountid=9784

[7] Rose, Pete, and Rick Hill. My Prison Without Bars. Emmaus, Pa.: Rodale, 2004. Print.

[8] “Rose Admits to Betting on Reds ‘every night'” ESPN.com. N.p., n.d. Web. 07 Apr. 2013. <http://sports.espn.go.com/mlb/news/story?id=2798498&gt;.

[9] Standen, J. (2010). Pete rose and baseball’s rule 21. Nine, 18(2), 134-140,210. Retrieved from http://search.proquest.com/docview/210876794?accountid=9784

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If you want to win, you must not lose


Tennis Ethics

It was the match point of my high school tennis game, and my partner and I were one point away from winning.  We had made it to a tiebreak round, and we were both suffering from exhaustion, hunger, and dehydration.  The opposing team finally served, and we played out the point.  We rallied for a few seconds, and then our opponents hit a perfect curve ball into the right hand corner of the court, completely out of our reach.  However, the ball bounced so close to the line that it was almost impossible to determine whether it was in or out.

My partner didn’t hesitate to call it out.  I, however, being slightly closer to the ball, silently questioned her.  The other team asked if she was sure, and since I was closer to where the ball had bounced, it was my job to look.  The pressure of the entire outcome of the match was suddenly on my shoulders: I could call it in and we would forfeit the win, or I could call it out and the score would be in our favor.  I walked over to the spot to see if the clay court could indicate where the ball had bounced.  I bent over and examined the mark – it was too close to tell.  However, in my exhaustion and desire to win, I did not argue with my partner’s decision.  I confirmed it was out, and we won the game.

In tennis, the rule of thumb is that if your are unsure about the call, it is the correct protocol to call it in.  In situations such as this, I like to think that I would have made the ethical decision by admitting that I didn’t know how to call their shot.  However, in my desperation to win, with all my teammates and my coach watching, I decided to make the unethical decision and call it out.

Even when there are Umpires and Halk-Eye camera in pro tennis, there are sometimes still questions about whether the calls are accurate.  Below is a video of Andy Roddick in the 2008 Australian Open, who argued with a few calls the Umpire made.  As you can see, even with Umpires and cameras some calls are questionable.

Imagine how much more arguing there would be in Pro Tennis, if hawkeye cameras weren’t around?

During my time as a tennis player, I have watched many of my peers battle similar scenarios to my own, where many calls they make are uncertain.  Since there are not enough coaches to monitor each game, it is up to the players to make the final decision.  In a situation where the opponent makes the final call, it can be no surprise that many calls aren’t always what they should be.  In circumstances where the opponents are similarly skilled, the defining factor is usually how ethical the players are willing to be.  If your opponent wanted to, they could call any close call of yours out.  It just depends how ruthless you are willing to be.

No Harm, No Foul?


Luis Suarez Intentional Handball in 2010 World Cup

There are some actions performed during the course of a game that could be considered “unethical” by some people, but as an athlete I feel different about them.  As some of you may know I am a soccer player.  Over the many years of playing the sport I have developed many different skills and strategies that I continue to develop each and every time I play.  One of the concepts I have picked up from several of my coaches was the notion of a “smart foul” during a game.  First of all, fouling is technically breaking the rules of the game.  You are supposed to play within the rules, and it would seem unethical to some to purposely do otherwise.  The rules are there to be followed and under no circumstance is breaking them the right thing to do, right?  This argument gets a little gray with the idea of a smart foul.  A smart foul, in the game of soccer, can happen in hundreds of different situations.  Sometimes you do something as simple as delay a free kick on purpose so your team can get back in numbers.  I would say the most common smart foul occurs when a defender purposely grabs, trips, pushes or nudges the offensive player around midfield, as to prevent a fast break, numbers down situation, or dangerous 1v1.  There’s even a pretty common saying for when you attempt to tackle someone coming at you: “If you don’t get the ball, get the man.”  This is saying if you miss hitting the ball on a slide tackle, at least catch the opponent in the leg so there’s a foul and he “doesn’t” beat you.  It’s strategy, albeit an old-school one, but it’s still said today.  I have done all of these past examples; it’s the nature of the game.  It’s not like I wasn’t penalized for my actions.  There were fouls called and cards given, and the proper procedures were followed.  I accepted my consequences with open arms.  Is that unethical?  You tell me.  I think it is part of sports.  The objective of a game is to beat the other team, which means drawing up and implementing a better strategy than them.  Sometimes the only thing to do to preserve the win is to break a rule.  If the rule is broken and there is no severe physical harm done in the process, then I consider it okay to commit those fouls for the sake of the win.  This brings me to a very famous example of a player purposely breaking a rule to save a win.

In the quarterfinals of the 2010 World Cup, Uruguay squared off with Ghana.  The game found itself in extra time and the score 1-1.  There was only a few seconds left in the match, and if the extra time ended as a tie, there would be a penalty shootout.  If someone were leading at the conclusion, that team would advance.  So with just mere seconds left this play happened:

What you just saw was Luis Suarez of Uruguay purposely saving the ball of the line with his hands, something only the goalie is allowed to do.  The ball was CLEARLY going into the net until it met his fists of fury.  The ref promptly called the penalty kick and issued the standard red card for the intentional handball.  Luis Suarez was ejected from the game, as is protocol for a red card, and Ghana was awarded the proper penalty kick.  All Ghana had to do was put away the PK and they would have advanced.  PK’s are scored about 85% of the time.  If you are Ghana you are upset because the 100% goal was illegally saved and replaced with an 85% goal.  Lo and behold, Ghana MISSES the penalty kick and the game goes into penalty kicks to decide the winner.  As fate would have it, Ghana lost the PK shootout and was eliminated from the World Cup.  Suarez got a lot of flack for his move on the line, but as a soccer player, I saw a player who sacrificed his playing for not losing.  He saved a sure thing, giving his team a chance to survive, and survive they did.  I know a lot of people will disagree with me and say the play was awful and he should be ashamed but I understand the level of competition sports can bring out.  I do have a line.  As long as no one is actually hurt (and by that I mean in more pain than a normal foul in the course of the game would cause) then these fouls are being used strategically and not for any harmful reason.  I also wouldn’t consider it cheating because fouls are built into the game.  They are expected to happen and as long as they are properly penalized, then the game is being played as it should.

I’d be interested in hearing what some of you think about the Suarez play or about intentionally fouling in general.  It would be interesting to see what some of the other athletes in the class would say in comparison to those who may not play sports.  Just to see what some people think, here’s a poll:

 

Individualist Sports Ethics


The issue of sports ethics to me personally arises in certain situations but is not as prevalent an issue as in other sports. I am a thrower on the track team here and the very nature of the sport limits the number of ethical dilemmas or scenarios available. Throwers take either three or six throws depending on if they make finals. Each throw is measured if it is a legal throw meaning that the thrower does not foul out of the circle being thrown from or throw outside of the sector lines. Once measured the athlete then waits his turn until his next throw. There is no one else inside the circle, no physical interaction with any other athlete, it is just the thrower and that is all. Therefore ethical problems do not often arise. Most ethical problems are what many would call “good sportsmanship” which is simply congratulating competitors on good throws, and generally being courteous. Most throwers tend to have the proper throwing etiquette such as be quiet while someone is throwing, or don’t stand at the back of the circle and stare at them before they throw. Although the faces shotputters and other throwers make are pretty hilarious.

Kurt Roberts

But in general etiquette is the main ethical issue. One issue that does arise for nearly all athletes but in particular throwers is the use of performance enhancing drugs. American throwing philosophy is to get as big, strong, and fast as possible. One way people in the past have accomplished this goal is through the use of performance enhancing drugs. Everything from steroids to human growth hormone have been used. The NCAA bans many more substances than the Olympic committee including amino acids and caffeine (in certain amounts). Most protein supplements and other weight-lifting supplements available on the market contain ingredients banned by the NCAA. Even certain Vitamin Water flavors contain banned ingredients. The current world record holder in shot put is often contested due to the fact that he was found to have used performance enhancing drugs. His throw of 75.85 ft is often considered illegitimate. Here is a video of his weight-lifting sessions.

This is the main ethical issue in throwing, and it is an interesting issue. Consider the argument that if everyone is allowed to use these drugs then the competition is still fair. This presents problems however when you get females being injected with testosterone causing adverse affects. This occurred to the shotputter from East Germany who as a result of the massive amounts of testosterone injected into her decided to just get a sex change and become a man. Also I believe that to allow performance enhancing drugs, at least in the Olympic sense, contradicts the very nature of the sport. The main purpose of throwers, and track and field in general is to push the human body to its natural limits. It is not to see how monstrous we can become through the use of chemicals. Some banned NCAA ingredients are a little strange however. Too much caffeine? To be fair it would take six or so cups of strong coffee before it reaches illegal levels, but I cannot see that happening often or to good affect. Besides, some athletes already use smelling salts to the same affect which is untraceable in drug tests. This is weird to be sure, but it does happen. Should it happen? I believe as long as the athlete is not relying on it and it does not affect performance long term then it is not a real issue. Some drugs are banned for good reasons others are just a little over-zealous on the banning. Either way it is a problem that occurs in every Olympics. Here are some throwing videos for those of you who have no idea what we do. Gneeral information, the shotput and hammer weigh 16lbs for men and 4kg (8.8lbs) for women. The discus is 2kg for men and 1kg for women.   

Strategy or Ethics?


My first present from my father was a soccer ball. I was two years old, and had just begun to walk. I joined my first soccer team at age three, and from that moment on until my senior year of high school, I went to soccer practice every single weekend. When I was little, it was all about the fun of the game. That was until I joined my first travel soccer team, The Yorktown Amazons.

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We were eight years old, and my father was our coach. I played on the same team with the same girls for the next ten years of my life. As soon as middle school rolled around, team parents were already starting to talk about college scholarships. All of a sudden we had enormous pressure to perform well in tournaments. We went on to win first place in countless tournament for the next few years, and became classified as a Northeast Region 1 Premiere team. This was a huge achievement. After clinching some more wins, we had succeeded in becoming nationally ranked.

However, the road to glory was not as easy as I just made it sound. In the game of soccer, just as with life, unethical behavior can sometimes give you an advantage. For example, I know from experience that it is fairly easy for a team member to fake an injury or a foul an opposing player in order to get the ball back. For instance, pretend for a moment that you are a defensive player. You are one-on-one with an offender on the opposing team. They are heading for the goal and you fear that they will pull ahead of you. You know that your team will have a better chance of preventing a goal if the opposing team has a free kick rather than a wide open shot in front of the goal. What do you do? Foul her outside of the box. This way, your team can recover back towards the goal, and set up a defensive strategy to increase our chances of getting the ball back. As long as you do not trip her inside of the box, you will usually not receive a yellow or red card and get thrown out of the game. With the enormous amount of pressure that we carried on our shoulders, these type of fouls were commonplace (among others). There are countless “strategies” such as this that people use in the world of sports to gain advantage in a game. But where is the line drawn between strategy, and poor ethical behavior?

During my senior year, I was tripped by a member of a different team while playing in the State Cup Tournament final. I completely tore through my hamstring. The same “strategies” that my team had used on others, had been used on me. I was done. I would never be able to play in another soccer game with my team. I would never be able to play Division 1 soccer. Everything that I had worked so hard to accomplish meant nothing now. I had given up hundreds of weekends (seriously hundreds) to go play in tournaments down in Virginia, North Carolina, Rhode Island, Pennsylvania, etc. I would never again be as fast or as strong as I had once been. I was completely crushed. All of this pain stemmed from one personal foul against me on the field. I couldn’t help but wonder, had I done this to anyone at some point? I felt terrible.

On another note, I feel that there are no sports organizations that are perfect models for ethical behavior. Every organization that I can think of has had some scandal or debate about their behaviors.  For example, in the sport of Jockey, some horse owners have been known to break horses legs if they are not performing well enough, or even murder the horses, in order to collect insurance money and purchase a new young horse. Is this ethical? NO!!!!! It actually disgusts me that animal cruelty such as this exists at all.

It took me forever to locate this clip, but I finally found it. I remember when I was younger and saw this for the first time, I was completely shocked. It has been burned into my mind ever since. In the following clip we see pro soccer player, Tab Ramos, taking an elbow to the head. Would you classify this as “strategy” or “unethical behavior”? Why?