Bill Madden is very upset that the greatest player of the last 40 years showed up at Giants spring training. (If A-Rod is like Whitey Bulger, is Bonds Jeffrey Dahmer? Pol Pot? Hopefully Madden will address this important question soon.) He puts his anti-steroids fanaticism in perspective with a comparison to former sportswriter idol Pete Rose:
And, with one year to go in his commissionership, Selig is not about to lift Rose’s ban, in spite of the renewed debate as to which is the more serious crime against baseball, gambling or out-and-out cheating with performance-enhancing drugs, which has made a mockery of the game’s records. It has been pointed out that baseball’s cardinal rule against gambling is all-encompassing and that there is a big difference between fixing a World Series — as the permanently banned 1919 White Sox did — and betting on your own team to win, as Rose did as manager of the Reds from 1984-89.
To deal with the second part first, even assuming arguendo that Rose’s baseball-related gambling involved only betting on his own team, when you’re talking about a manager that’s not actually a defense. Betting on your own team to win as a manager poses a rather obvious threat to the integrity of the game. (“Jose Rijo — looking good in the bullpen! You can throw 180 pitches today, right?”) Sure, what he did was less serious than fixing a World Series, but it merited a lifetime ban for good reason. On the first point, allow me to settle this “debate” quickly:
So, this is an easy one; Roses committed actual crimes against baseball and Bonds did not, making the question of whose crimes were worse moot. The fact that Rose was an “ambassador” for the game — i.e. in terms of eliciting unspeakably irritating fawning from the media he was the Derek Jeter of his era — is neither here nor there, and nor am I the slightest bit interested in the long-standing grudge many sportswriters have against Bonds. Rose was clearly a PED user, although he used the kind of PEDs anti-PED hysterics find acceptable because LET ME TELL YOU ABOUT THE GLORIOUS BROOKLYN DODGERS THE ONLY TEAM ANYONE HAS EVER CARED ABOUT EVER.
And, by the way, how confident are we that Rose, who as the Dowd Report made clear was closely associated with steroid dealers and played until he was 45 in order to break one of baseball’s most Sacred Records, wasn’t a steroid user? Fortunately for Rose, he broke the Sacred Record of a far better player who was also a crude racist rather than one of Madden’s boyhood idols, so he doesn’t think to ask the question. (Speaking of which, this is a favorite non-sequitur of Rose apologists — “But Ty Cobb is in the Hall of Fame, and he was a racist!” As soon as someone can point to a contemporaneous American League rule against being a fairly typical white guy born in Georgia in 1886, this point will actually be relevant.)
I fear that this could be a sign of a new particularly virulent strain of anti-PED fanaticism — crossing it with blubbering nostalgia for Charlie Hustle. Ugh.