Jerry Seinfeld was right... We really do just root for laundry
On October 12th, 1976 I hated Pete Rose as much as any irrational 10 year old could hate another person. His 'Big Red Machine' had just brushed aside my beloved Phillies in a 3 game NLCS white-wash.
Fast forward 26 months, to December of 1978 and I loved Pete Rose as much as any irrational 12 year old could love another person. The same guy who had broken my heart in 1976 and collected hits in 44 straight games a few months earlier had agreed to play first base for my Phils.
Love him or hate him, it is hard not to have an opinion on Pete Rose. Because I have been on both sides of the coin with this guy, I try to believe that I can maintain an objective perspective. The truth is, I can't... I want him to be back in the game because he played for my laundry and helped deliver our first World Series.
Here is what I think:
1) Pete Rose is a gambling addict. Regardless of the type, addiction is a real disease. The league has substance abuse programs for players addicted to drugs and players addicted to alcohol. Why not gamblers?
2) Not all gambling is equal and not every bet should be given the same punishment. It is my opinion, what Pete Rose did is the exact opposite thing from what the 1919 Black Sox did. Pete Rose bet on his team to win, there is no evidence that he ever bet against his team. It isn't hard to conclude that Pete Rose didn't gamble because he wanted the money, he gambled because he loved the rush. The Black Sox got paid to lose, and threw games for cold hard cash. Apples and Oranges.
3) Professional athletes gamble for a living. They pit their athletic skills against another person for money. Regardless of the source of the cash, winning or losing can mean millions of dollars. Players who win, sign big contracts. Teams that win, fill stadiums. Owners that win, fill bank accounts. Let's stop pretending there isn't money on the table each and every night.
4) It took him a while, but Pete Rose finally admitted he bet on baseball. Why did he lie for all those years? Lots of reasons. To confess to the world the truth was essentially admitting he had an addiction. That not something easy for an ego-maniac like Pete Rose to do.
It has been 20+ years.... Enough is enough. It is time to let him back into the game.