Aaron Haspel over at God Of The Machine posted a response to all the Pete Rose hoopla of late. Both John J Perricone at Only Baseball Matters and your humble servant (that's me) have been responding to Aaron on the issue since. And away we go.
I agree with a great [deal] of what you argue here. However, I am actually in favor of Rose's reinstatement because I don't feel that MLB made a good case proving Rose bet on baseball or the Reds. I find the evidence to be contradictory and not the least bit compelling. Oh, and I have read the Dowd Report (actually more than once).
The evidence is basically enlarged copies of slips of paper that may be in Rose's hand, that were acquired by someone (Paul Janszen) with whom Rose had a falling out, that do not state any figures for baseball games (and therefore, may not be in actuality bets on those games), and that contain erroneous data (the April 9 slip contains three baseball games that never were played on the same day in the 1987 season let alone on April 9).
The rest of the evidence is based on Rose's runner Paul Janszen's and his erstwhile bookie Ron Peters' testimony. Peters rarely meets with Rose directly, and bases most of what he says on Janszen. Both of these men had reason to tell Dowd what he wanted to hear (revenge, the authorities, etc.). Janszen actually claims to have paid off Rose's gambling debts himself and to have guaranteed that Rose would be protected from authorities if he be paid a certain amount of money. Dowd takes Janszen's ludicrous statements at face value (isn't it more believable that Janszen was covering his own debt and that he was trying to extort money from Rose for "protection").
By the way, Derek Zumsteg is refuting the wrong Bill James article. James mentions some of the more idiosyncratic points in the New Historical Abstract, but he did a thorough nitpicking back in his 1990 Baseball Book. Most of Zumsteg's criticism's would not hold water where the 1990 article is concerned.
I just wanted to point that out. Keep up the good work.
Mikearminati has done a real good job of putting the situation in perspective.
I too feel that MLB has done a pretty woeful job of proving that Rose bet on the game, and that, given he is the all-time hits leader, they need to do far more than continue to assert that they know he did. They don't know it, they believe it, and that's not the same thing. No matter how hard you look, they haven't even come close to proving it.
Aaron then invited us to do something, to which my response was, "That's not even physically possible." I'm joking of course:
Thanks, John and Mike, for your sane and thoughtful remarks. You are both far better versed in the facts of the case than I, but we can all at least agree that the only relevant question is whether Rose bet on baseball in general and the Reds in particular.
I must take issue with John's implication that, because Rose is the all-time hit leader, an especially high standard of proof is required. Does he mean that ordinary players can be barred on less evidence than superstars? More generally, I am curious what both of you think the standard of proof ought to be. I don't think "beyond a reasonable doubt" applies here; this is not, so far as baseball is concerned, a criminal matter. I should think "preponderance of evidence" would suffice, which is another way of saying that belief, not knowledge, is enough. Whether the evidence indicates that Rose bet on the Reds is of course another question.
I continue to find Zumsteg's article convincing, even against the 1990 Bill James piece that Mike refers to and that I'm familiar with. The betting amounts are suggestive, Peters' and Janszen's testimony dovetails in important respects, and although a couple of games on the betting slips don't match the dates most of them do. I would very much look forward to a point by point refutation of Zumsteg by either or both of you.
I actually have already done this. Well, I bypassed Zumsteg and went to the source, Dowd. It was part of Only Baseball Matters' Rose series about a month ago. It's in my archive here. It's a staged trial as refutation of the Dowd Report. Be forewarned that it is long and, I'm told, self-indulgent (I liked it though).
I find no credible evidence whatsoever in the Dowd Report, not the witness testimony, not the phone logs, not Janszen's or Peters' betting logs, and not Rose's alleged betting slips.
Zumsteg seems to have a real Jones for James on the issue though (esp. any mention of April 8th). Zumsteg seems more bent on believing every piece of evidence that is against Rose than Dowd did. I actually read the Zumsteg piece before the Dowd Report and was convinced that it was a rock-solid piece of investigatory work. It's not, not by a long shot. It did more to convince [me] that Rose's guilt in the matter cannot be determined from the evidence available that any article, even the ones by James.
As far as Zumsteg's statements, there are a number of inaccuracies. He incorrectly states that the betting slips are accurate. The 4/9 one lists two baseball games that didn't happen and three games that never happened on the same night the entire season. The fact that the Janszen log matches the betting slips he uses to buttress his argument. However, if Paul Janszen fabricated the slips or used the slips to fabricate his log, then they would match, wouldn't they? The slips are ludicrous as pieces of physical evidence. First, they are xeroxed copies and they are enlarged. Second, they were delivered to MLB by Janszen, a man who clearly had an axe to grind with Rose and who admitted to extorting money from Rose's attorney (as a thinly veiled promise to "protect" him). Third, they are in block letters--who can say with any degree of accuracy they are Rose's. They contain inaccurate baseball information (the 4/9 one). Zumsteg indicates that the basketball bets are wrong, too. There is no way to know if any actually pertain to real bets (Janszen's log notwithstanding). There are no amounts (I see no "5 Dimes" on the copies at The Baseball Archive). Furthermore, there is no way to tell if they are bets, which ones truly are and which are Rose writing down scores he overheard on the sports line.
Speaking of the sports line, Zumsteg seems to agree with Dowd that they are meaningful. However, there are many days according to Janszen's log on which numerous calls to the sports lines and to their various lowlife friends, however, no bets are placed. They cannot be used to even indicate betting is actually happening, let alone baseball or Reds betting. There is a ton more, but it's basically in the link above.