Controversy has continued to swirl in Houston in the wake of MLB Commissioner Rob Manfred’s punishment of key figures in the Astros’ front office, and the fallout that led team owner Jim Crane to fire GM Jeff Luhnow and manager A.J. Hinch.
Pete Rose is no stranger to MLB controversy himself, having been handed a lifetime ban three decades ago for betting on his own Cincinnati Reds in the late ’80s. The longtime player and manager weighed in on the Astros debacle Monday, arguing that, in his view, the team’s sign-stealing issues outweigh his own baseball crimes.
“I bet on my own team to win. That’s what I did in a nutshell. I was wrong, but I didn’t taint the game,” Rose said Monday to NJ Advance Media’s Randy Miller. “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.”
While Manfred’s punishment of the Astros organization wasn’t slight — one-season suspensions apiece to Luhnow and Hinch (prior to their firing), the loss of two years’ worth of first- and second-round picks, and a $5-million fine — Rose felt the penalties weren’t enough.
“So they fire the GM, they fire the manager, and (MLB) probably is going to get (Boston Red Sox manager) Alex Cora, who was the (Astros) bench coach at the time. But what about the players who were behind this and taking the knowledge? Should they get off scot-free?” Rose said.
“Don’t you have to do something to the players who were accepting the stolen signs? Nothing’s been done. Is that fair?”
The three-time World Series champion and ’73 NL MVP shared his perspective as a former player as well.
“…In the 14,000 times I batted, I never wanted a guy on second to tell me what was coming,” Rose said. “My philosophy was he might say it’s a low-and-away sinker and it’s really an up-and-in fastball, and I get hit in the ribs because you can’t always be a hundred per cent sure that the signs are correct.
“It helps if you can steal a sign from a third-base coach, but that’s really not cheating. That’s a third-base coach not doing his job. If you can’t conceal a hit-and-run or a steal sign, you belong in another business.”
What the Astros have been said to have concocted appears to be another scheme altogether, though, says Rose. And the 78-year-old believes the onus ultimately falls on the players involved.
“Most players don’t give a damn about what happens to an organization as long as it doesn’t happen to them,” he said. “If I’m a player and every time I bat I’m getting the signs from the dugout, I’m just as guilty as the guy who is giving me the signs.”