The Bible tells us that in God's eyes, all sins are equal. Whether or not you believe in this Christian belief, I think most people can agree, that is not the case in the eyes of humans. We as humans see certain "sins" as being worse than others. Our entire justice system is based on the very idea that a jaywalker and a murderer are not one in the same.
So when it comes to sins levied against the game of baseball, which sin is the worst: betting on the game or getting around the competition with a boost from performance enhancers?
Baseball legend Pete Rose has recently spoke out to let fans know his opinion on which one should send you further down the depths of Bud Selig's inferno.
"They're both bad, but I think when you alter the statistics of baseball that's a lot worse," Rose said on the Dan Patrick Show. "One alters the game and the other hurts no one but you or your family. It's night and day,"
Since those comments were made, quite the debate over Rose's remarks has kicked off. Yahoo Sports writer Jeff Passan took particular exception to the Hit King's words.
"When you talk about betting on a game, you talk about not just the integrity of the game itself, but the possibility you open up to losing," Passan told Yahoo Report's Evan Dorherty. "Even though Rose said he never bet on the Red's to lose, it goes into your manager calculus, it has to go into your decision making."
Passan also took the opportunity to take some personal shots at Rose.
"Pete Rose is about himself, always has been about himself, and will continue to be about himself," Passen said. "As bad as performance enhancing drugs can be, betting on baseball is worse."
As a fan of the game, I have to absolutely, positively disagree with Jeff Passan's argument. When Rose's name is mentioned, the words "integrity of the game" always seem to come up as well. But baseball has little to no integrity. Major League Baseball has been waning in popularity and integrity ever since the strike of the mid 1990s.
Rose is a long lost relic of a time when the game truly did have some integrity and honesty. Sure, Rose bet on the game, although there is no proof that his bets ever led to point shaving. Passan never directly mentions point shaving, but he does briefly mention the 1919 Chicago "Black Sox."
Infamously, eight Chicago players were charged with throwing the World Series (ironically it was the Cincinnati Reds who were the beneficiary). The idea that baseball's greatest game could be tainted in such a way is the entire reason that betting on the game became a cardinal sin.
There is no evidence, however, to support that Rose ever point shaved as a player or a manager. Also, how beneficial would it be for a player in the modern era of baseball to throw a game on account of a bet? At the time that "Shoeless Joe" and the boys threw the 1919 World Series, player wages were meager. The money collected from a gambling bet could easily outweigh the dollars made legitimately. It would take an astronomical bet for that to be the case in today's Major League.
However, steroids can cheat fans and the integrity in just as an impactful way as point shaving. Plus, unlike point shaving, in today's world it's a much more reasonable way for a player to pad his wallet as well as ego. Look at Alex Rodriguez. A-Rod has managed to score multiple record paying contracts. These absurdly abundant salaries were largely built upon numbers falsely recorded with the help of PEDs.
Major records have been shattered in the last 20 years with the cloud of steroids hovering over many of them. Baseball's most exciting season in my lifetime is a fraud. In 1998, fan's were swept up in the race to Roger Maris' record: 61 homeruns. As a child, I watched with wide-eyed amazement as hit after hit rocketed off the bats' of Mark McGuire and Sammy Sosa. Now, I look back on what should be a fond childhood memory of a time back when, and I feel disgusted. I feel cheated. Because I was, all baseball fans were.
Pete Rose may of bet on baseball, but he never cheated the fans. "Charlie Hustle" gave them everything he had every time he hit the field. The man, who no one will ever accuse of being the most athletic, became the all-time hit leader in Major League history. He did it through work, sweat, and effort, not through pills or injections. Betting on himself and his team to win doesn't change that. That's what Passan doesn't understand.
Baseball's integrity? Let me know when they lift the ban on Pete Rose. Let me know when they allow him to walk into immortality at Cooperstown. Then I'll let you know about baseball's integrity. Until then, it and its hall of fame are a joke. Unfortunately, the fans are the punch line.