Former Cincinnati Reds star Pete Rose knows a thing or two about breaking rules, but he can’t wrap his head around the Houston Astros’ sign-stealing scandal. Rose took the team to task Tuesday, implying what the Astros did was much worse than betting on games, according to Randy Miller of NJ.com.
The 78-year-old Rose said that although he bet on his team to win, he did not “taint the game.”
“I bet on my own team to win,” Rose said. “That’s what I did in a nutshell. I was wrong, but I didn’t taint the game. I didn’t try to steal any games. I never voted against my team. I bet on my team every night because that’s the confidence that I had in my players. And I was wrong.
“But this (Astros’ situation) is a little different. It’s a lot different, actually, and I think that’s why the commissioner came down so hard.”
Rose received a lifetime ban for betting on baseball while he was managing the Reds. Rose has always maintained he only bet on the Reds to win while he was managing. Still, betting on baseball was explicitly forbidden by Major League Baseball, which is why Rose received the ban.
While the Astros got off light compared to that, Rose was still supportive of the punishments. Astros general manager Jeff Luhnow and manager A.J. Hinch were each suspended for a year. The Astros later fired both men. On top of that, the team lost two draft picks and was fined $5 million.
But there was one area in which Rose questioned MLB commissioner Rob Manfred’s judgement. Rose wondered why Manfred didn’t punish any Astros players.
“So they fire the GM, they fire the manager, and (MLB) probably is going to get (Red Sox manager) Alex Cora, who was the (Astros) bench coach at the time,” Rose said. “But what about the players who were behind this and taking the knowledge? Should they get off scot-free?
"Don’t you have to do something to the players who were accepting the stolen signs? Nothing’s been done. Is that fair?”
Rose also talked about how he attempted to steal signs as a player. As Rose explained, he would look at the opposing third-base coach to see if a bunt was coming so he could be prepared on defense. Rose said he never wanted his teammates to give him signs in the box.
None of that would be punishable by MLB. Sign stealing is generally accepted in baseball. It’s a form of gamesmanship. But that goes out the window when teams start to use technology to steal signs instantaneously. The use of technology bothers Rose, who said he “can’t imagine doing something like that.”
Since his lifetime ban, Rose has spent the past couple decades trying to win his way back into baseball’s good graces. He’s made it no secret he still wants to be in the Baseball Hall of Fame. The league has shown no desire to make Rose eligible again.
Perhaps that will change if the Hall of Fame elects suspected steroid users or Astros players who benefitted from sign stealing, but the voters don’t take too kindly to players who explicitly broke the rules.
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