Like most Americans and baseball fans, I tuned in to watch Todd Frazier win the 2015 Home Run Derby, as well as the American League defeat the National League 6-3 in the 86th All Star Game. These celebrations of the best baseball players the world has to offer also included Pete Rose, the longtime Red and all-time hit leader. Pete Rose was banned for life after admitting to betting on baseball, and was allowed to participate in this year’s festivities by Commissioner Manfred. As ironic as it is, gambling on the All-Star Game events was very prevalent.
The odds and bets began with the Home Run Derby. There were ever-changing odds as to who would win, and with the new time factor being shortened from five minutes to four on Derby Day, the odds kept changing. Thousands across the country and even the world were betting on the All-Star Game. But this is relatively commonplace in the sports betting world.
The problem I see starts when the online fantasy sports site DraftKings gets involved. If you watched any of the festivities, you were sure to notice a commercial by them, or the huge sign out in left centerfield. For those unaware, DraftKings is a daily fantasy sports website that offers daily games for a few dollars. It’s a great concept and I’m not taking that away from them; I just have a problem with Major League Baseball’s partnership with them. They are the official fantasy sports sponsor of Major League Baseball and have been everywhere this year. It’s almost impossible not to see one of their ads during a ballgame. Players, as well as teams and MLB itself, have been promoting this site so much this year that even MLB Network has devoted a segment to having their analysts give their daily picks for the day.
Call it fantasy sports all you want. Any time money gets involved with anything involving the performance of professional athletes, it is gambling.
Now this website is great and all, but it’s a little bit hypocritical for baseball to be promoting gambling when Pete Rose, as well as members of the 1919 White Sox, were banned or life for their involvement in gambling on baseball games. While the Sox situation is different from Rose, they were still all affected. DraftKings has millions of players every day, and I’m certain that a few Major League Baseball players have tried the site out. I’ve never used the site, but it looks like a lot of fun and I don’t doubt that these players felt the same way and tried it out.
Players who have used this website have certainly talked to teammates and friends about how cool it is, or how they picked their teammate to help them win that day. My question is: where is their lifetime ban? They broke the same rules that Rose, Shoeless Joe Jackson, and others have, but have no repercussions. I know it’s not a few thousand dollars, but it’s still betting on baseball, and that’s a violation of rule 21 Section D about misconduct: “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.”
Whether its $1 or $1,000, it still violates the rules of Major League Baseball.
This isn’t a lash out against MLB, or a “reinstate Rose” case. Although I would love to see Pete and Shoeless Joe in the Hall, what MLB does is their choice. I just think that MLB should enforce all rules and conduct policies equally. No favoritism, just enforce everything the same. I’m sure that the Major League Baseball executives are aware that players and people inside MLB use this site and others like it, they just aren’t acting on it.
“I made a big mistake. I was wrong. But I can’t change it. I just wish people would understand and give me a second chance. I won’t need a third chance.” –Pete Rose