I understand the reason for the MLB's ban on betting against one's own team, but I don't understand why it is forbidden to bet for one's own team.

Which did Pete Rose get busted for, and why is it such a big deal?


According to the Dowd Report, Pete Rose was busted for betting on matches in which he was involved

Pete Rose bet on baseball, and in particular, on games of the Cincinnati Reds Baseball Club during the 1985, 1986, and 1987 seasons

It was not shown that he bet against his own team

3) No evidence was discovered that Rose bet against the Cincinnati Reds.

but by the rules of MLB, that was irrelevant, as any kind of bet is prohibited.

Rule 21(d) provides:

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 no duty to perform, shall be declared ineligible for one year.

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.

So why should this matter?

Lets assume I am a bent coach*, out to make money from the bookmakers. The odds of a team will change with their form. So assume Team A (my team) are set to play team D next week, and that the teams are evenly matched. The odds for Team A to win will be about evens. We can assume that these are the "fair" odds. But before that match, Team A lose to Team B and Team C, as I deliberately made bad coaching decisions . Now the odds for playing Team D are suddenly longer, and I bet on my team to win. I have manipulated the odds in my favour, and stand to make money.

*This is purely hypothetical. I have no reason to suspect that Pete Rose was "bent", or ever gave anything other than his best efforts. According to his wikipedia article he claims

I bet on my team every night. I didn't bet on my team four nights a week. I bet on my team to win every night because I loved my team, I believed in my team

If this is the case, then he wouldn't have been in the position to manipulate the odds. But he would still have broken the MLB rules.

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While there wasn't any credible evidence that directly implicated Rose of betting against his own team, the volume of betting and the era in which he was most active in betting (i.e. the time he spent as player/manager of the Reds) had many people believing that he probably did bet against his own team. Really he was punished because his actions (real or perceived) were deemed to be detrimental to the sport and the commissioner wanted to stamp it out.

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...new documents obtained by Outside the Lines indicate Rose bet extensively on baseball -- and on the Cincinnati Reds -- as he racked up the last hits of a record-smashing career in 1986.

ESPN is reporting that Rose did, in fact, bet on his own team. Supposedly, entries in a hidden betting folder have been found. The most damning evidence reported by ESPN is...

But on 21 of the days it's clear he bet on baseball, he gambled on the Reds, including on games in which he played.

As for why betting is forbidden, given the history of the Black Sox scandal, MLB has tried to protect the integrity of the game. Any form of betting (on games) could influence the outcome of the game. It could add a potential incentive that could impact prior and future games.

It's still premature in the investigation of this "new" evidence, but, it doesn't look good for Rose.

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