Why managers betting on baseball is wrong, even if it is for their team to win


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I’ve written about this topic and talked about it on the podcast, but maybe it needs to be written out. I realized this when someone I have never met before started responding to me on Twitter.

@ChipTheRip holds an opinion that on the surface seems logical and on first glance makes more sense than my point of view (and MLB’s POV) that gambling on baseball, even for your team to win, is not good for the game.

I did my best to address his point via Twitter and on my podcast HERE.

Now I may not convince him or anyone else, but maybe it is a good thing to write out once and for all

Why is betting on baseball when you are a manager of one of the teams wrong, even if it is for their team to win? If you know you are playing extra hard to win, that’s a good thing right? You’re playing it like it’s game 7 of the World Series.

But there is a reason why managing a deciding game of a playoff series feels different that a regular season game. And managing regular season games like game 7 of the World Series is not a smart thing to do

Think about how a pitching staff is handled in a game that has greater significance. Often times starting pitchers come out of the bullpen and top relievers are stretched out longer than normally.

Just take Game 7 of the 2003 ALCS for example. In “The Aaron Boone Game”, the Yankees used Mike Mussina and David Wells as relievers while the Red Sox brought Tim Wakefield, starter of Games 1 and 4, out of the pen. And Joe Torre had Mariano Rivera pitch 3 innings when normally he does not go longer than one.

In deciding games in the Wild Card era, starters such as Randy Johnson, Pedro Martinez, Jack McDowell, CC Sabathia, Charles Nagy, Josh Beckett and Tim Hudson came out of the bullpen in key situations. In potential elimination games, closers like Keith Foulke, Jonathan Papelbon and Brad Lidge were stretched out longer than they normally would.

And that makes sense to manage like that in a deciding game. Why? Because there is no tomorrow if a team loses.

Does it make sense to manage like that in the regular season? Of course not, because there always is a tomorrow until the end of the season.

Putting extra emphasis on a specific game to win means, by definition, there is less emphasis to win the game before and the game afterwards.

Sports Illustrated

Sports Illustrated

Let’s say you bet on your team to win on a Friday. Fine, you play like hell on Friday… but what does that mean for the Thursday game? Are you holding back a pitcher or are you not using a player to make sure they fresh for Friday?

And what happens on Saturday? Have you used pitchers out of the pen that you normally wouldn’t to clinch the Friday game?

Do this over the course of the season and it will affect entire series. And yes, it negatively impacts the integrity of the game.

This is not the same as saving a reliever who has been overworked or letting a pitcher “take one for the team” and stay on the mound to get pounded while giving the staff a rest. This is managing with motives other than winning the division.

With Pete betting thousands of dollars a week and obviously with the compulsion of an addicted gambler, who knows how many games he gave extra emphasis to? His Reds lost the Division in 1986, 1987 and 1988 to scrappy overachievers. And in 1990, the first season after Rose’s suspension, the Reds went wire to wire, winning the World Series.

Did his managing with a gambling element cost his team the division? We may never know, but the fact that we can even ask that question with any degree of uncertainty is troubling.

Now Rose has claimed he bet on EVERY game… but I think he has already lied on this subject before!

And if Pete Rose had come clean right away, or at least not lied for decades until a book deal came his way, then he would probably be reinstated. Maybe Commissioner Giamatti would have reinstated him had he lived. Maybe the new baseball commissioner will lift the ban after Bud Selig retires.

Perhaps that will happen and Pete will finally be a Hall of Famer. (Although the curators of the Hall of Fame hate Rose because of his sleazy autograph shows he holds during the inauguration day at Cooperstown, but that is another story.)

That may all happen. And someone may believe that performance enhancing drugs are a bigger problem than anything Pete did. But it does not change the fact that gambling on games is against the rules of the game. And being the Hit King does not excuse a player from the rules.

It is also not a nit picky rule either. It is one that deals with the integrity of the game. It would be great to show up for one of the games that Pete was betting on. Maybe not so great for the game before and afterwards.

I wonder if @ChipTheRip agrees with what I wrote.

Doesn’t look good for me.

I discussed this on the podcast. Click below to hear.

One thought on “Why managers betting on baseball is wrong, even if it is for their team to win

  1. Pingback: Pete Rose 1989 Topps – Sully Baseball Card of the Day for October 26, 2017 – Sully Baseball

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