At Sports on Earth, Will Leitch has recovered sufficiently from the news of Rick Ankiel's retirement to disagree with Pete Rose about steroids (which Pete Rose probably did) being worse than gambling (which Pete Rose has admitted to doing, and is thus minimizing.)
I can't say it any better than he did, but No. 2 in his 10-part response is worth amplifying:
Gambling truly damages fan interest. The game of baseball was devastated in the wake of the 1919 Black Sox scandal, with trust in the game eroded to the point of near annihilation. Baseball can weather a scandal of whether players are using artificial means to boost their game; it cannot weather a scandal of those players purposely trying to lose.We don't actually have to go back to 1919 to see this happening; baseball is being ruined by a gambling scandal right this second in Taiwan, one of the baseball-craziest countries in the world.
Professional baseball in Taiwan suffered its first game-fixing scandal in the mid-90s. Attendance collapsed immediately; "by the end of the 1999 season, average attendance at most games," which had peaked just under 7000, "was less than a thousand."
The game experienced a revival in the wake of the 2001 World Cup and a merger of its two struggling leagues only to be crushed by scandals again in 2005 and 2008.
Here's a chart I've made especially for Pete Rose. It's MLB and CPBL attendance since 1990, with 1990's per-game average set at 100. Zoom in and see if you can spot the gambling scandal.