Tag Archives: MLB

The Problem With Legalized Sports Gambling

May 14th, 2018 will go down in history as one of the most impactful days in sports history. The United States Supreme Court has ruled that the federal ban on state sanctioned sports betting is “unconstitutional.”  Dan Patrick  put it best when he said “the floodgates are officially open for other states to allow sports betting.”

Many sports pundits and gambling professionals have made themselves vocal about wanting sports gambling to be legalized.  Bringing about the “unconstitutional” nature of denying citizens the right to gamble and because “everyone does it anyway.”

A sports betting room at Mandalay Bay Resort and Casino in Las Vegas, Nevada. Photo: Prayitno

I am a sports-gambling enthusiast. I love the science that is sports-handicapping. I talk with other sports-snobs who understand that picking a winner against the spread – instead of “straight up” – takes more skill than people give it credit for.  My best literary works come during the football season, when I pepper social media with my “Beating Vegas” articles, detailing who I feel will “cover the spread” in college and professional football.  It’s fun.  I get it.  .  . for some people.

The truth about sports gambling, is that it is an addictive and dangerous hobby.

For as long as sports has been around, the sports gambling racket has been a main source of income for the criminal element.  The guy at the corner store, the guy outside the bowling alley, your grandfather – so on and so forth – the bookie, has been a part of every neighborhood forever.  Yes, even yours.  It’s a dirty world where if you don’t pay up – you can literally lose your life.

Now with the legalization of gambling across the fifty states, just coming in a matter of time, think about the dangers this now puts on society as a whole.

People who have no idea how addictive sports-gambling is, or who have never tapped into that addictive part of their personality will now see that with gambling being legalized, it is somehow harmless.  These people who have never ventured into the perils of “chasing bets” and hitting a string of bad-luck will now feel as if they have been invited to a fun new hobby that brings no-ill-effects.

Photo Credit goes to CalvinAyre.Com / Article written by Kirby Garlitos “NFL Prop Betting Part 1: Offense”

Also, for all of those who do gamble and think this is better than the “guy at the corner store.” At least you knew what the parameters were if you didn’t pay up – those things usually involved intimidation by use of baseball bats and / or turning over a your family-owned-business to the person you owed money to.  Although those parameters never scare off the  true degenerates – for the most part, people understand the code of the streets.

Now, if gambling is legalized.  Be prepared to pay taxes on your winnings and be prepared for government agencies to start garnishing your paycheck with no questions asked if you don’t pay up on your losses.  Be prepared for people’s credit to nose-dive and be prepared to see more people losing their homes. . .

Everybody thinks of sports gambling and they don’t realize, after the first game you bet on – one of three things happens to you.

  1. You win and automatically start thinking how you can win more.
  2. You lose and begin to wonder how you can win that money back.
  3. (this is the most dangerous of the three) Winning or losing doesn’t matter at all.  It was the rush and the thrill for those three hours that you want to re-live again.

I am not here to preach.  I would be a hypocrite if I told folks how to live their lives and give them every reason to not gamble on sports.  It’s more about society as a whole.

With sports gambling being allowed, this leads us – the regular folk – to think about a placing a $50  or a $100 bet as a legal means to make some quick and easy cash in a fun way. . . All the while – it’s the casino’s, the government and the sports leagues that will be the real winners.  The rich will continue to get richer at our expense.  ‘Merica. But we’re too blinded by the immediate opportunity to make money on a game – that we won’t recognize it.

The NBA has already said they want 1% of all wagering action on their entity. That’s now.  What stops them next year from asking for 2%. . .then 3%, so on and so forth.  Major League Baseball would be the biggest of hypocrites to take on a percentage (and even support) sports gambling.  If you don’t believe that, why don’t you go and Google, Pete Rose.

There is no doubt that the idea of legalized sports gambling is on the way.  Just because something is now legal – it does not mean it is okay to do.   Be smart.  And as I always say: “Good Luck and Wager Wisely.”

G.W. Gras

twitter @GeeSteelio

MLB: PED’s Are Just Good For Business

Smart businesses change their model, when they realize they’ve hit a wall.  For example, Playboy Magazine recently announced that they were going to stop showing nude photos of women in their magazines.  Since 1953 Playboy magazine had been revolutionary in all that was literary among news-stand publications and mostly because of the ‘nudity-factor.’  Fast forward to 2016, Playboy has seen a change in the world.  Playboy’s sells have declined because the allure of “nude women in a magazine” have faded.  The internet has changed the way the world gets it’s information and the internet itself has fed into the sexual fetishes of anyone after a few strikes from their keyboard.  Playboy realized that if they intend on selling magazines, they’ve got to become more “hipper” and in tune with the younger adult male of today, like Maxim.

The model for Playboy was beyond successful.  A breakthrough for media but even they realized that their relevancy was in question.  They went against everything their magazine was founded on and have decided to move forward.  Now the magazine will picture no more nude models/centerfolds, and the content will be directed heavily more towards men’s fashion, gadgetry, etc. . .

Imagine Major League Baseball as Playboy Magazine.  Once upon a time, the game of baseball was considered “America’s Pastime.”  It was as American as apple pie, Uncle Sam and the bald eagle.  Times have changed for baseball though.  The game is too slow, non-athletic and too “set in it’s ways” for today’s crowd which processes information quickly and demands results immediately.  Baseball does not gain the attention of the youth in America like it once did.   The NFL has taken the sporting world over.  In doing so, the NFL has figured how to spread itself beyond their 17 week season so that things like the NFL Draft, Free Agency, the Combine and even the release of schedules make the sporting world stop and take notice.  The NBA has taken over as the “hipper” league, with distinct personalities and story-lines.  Even college football has figured out a way to carve a big piece of America’s Sports Pie for themselves.  Baseball sees the changes, development and evolution of these other entities and has decided to stay true to their old ways.  Stay the course.  Remain dedicated to their “un-written rules” and in turn – have become boring.

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So what can baseball do to make the game more exciting for all?  What can they do to become as relevant as the aforementioned sports models?

Make the game more exciting.

How can they do that?

Performance Enhancing Drugs.

P.E.D’s.

Is it ethical? Is it moral?  No – but let’s sidestep those issues for a second and just look at P.E.D’s in it’s purest form.

When Mark McGuire and Sammy Sosa went on their historical journey to smash the single season home run record, it resurrected the sport in 1998 and the world obsessed over it.   Thank you P.E.Ds.  When Roger Clemens went 20 years into his career being an All Star and leading the league in ERA, wasn’t that an exciting time to root for the veteran pitcher?  Thank you P.E.Ds.  And of course, when everyone knew Barry Bonds was on something – whether you loved him or hated him – the world wanted to see if he would break Babe Ruth’s and Hank Aaron’s home run records.   Thank you Lord, for P.E.Ds!

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Baseball is the only sport that seemingly doesn’t want to celebrate records from the “Roaring Twenties” era to be broken.  As if those records were the purest form of the game and everything today taints it.  The NBA and NFL have changed rules to their games that in turn have made some of their most cherished records a thing of the past.  Baseball can’t really do much about the rules to the game itself that would help to make the game more exciting.  But, what they could do is turn a blind eye to P.E.D’s.  Why?  Because it would be “good for business.”

Let’s talk about those cherished “records” by the way.

Earlier we brushed over the words “ethical” and “moral.”  Baseball-purists love using these words when they say “P.E.D’s are destroying the integrity  of the game.”   Where was that great “integrity,” where were the “morals” and what happened to “ethics” when black players weren’t allowed to play in the majors?

When the baseball-purists argue for asterisks to be next to players’ names in the record books because of use of performance enhancing drugs – the truth is,  everything before 1947 should have an asterisk next to it.  Of course that was the year Jackie Robinson crossed the “color barrier” and became the first black baseball player in the majors.   America’s pastime tries to cover up this racial blockade but it happened – and in turn it affected the “integrity” of the sport.  Who knows what these records would look like if Oscar Charleston, Buck Leonard and John Henry were allowed to play in the majors instead of being contained in the Negro Baseball League.

Satchel Paige of the St. Louis Browns, October 1, 1952.
Satchel Paige of the St. Louis Browns, October 1, 1952.

Satchel Paige’s rookie year in Major League Baseball was in 1948.  He was 42 as a rookie because his talents were only allowed to be seen outside of baseball from 1926-1947 because he was black.  Paige was way passed his prime when he was in the majors and still became two time All-Star in that time.  If Paige was allowed to play in the league, who knows what records Paige would’ve held as he is still noted today to be one of the game’s most powerful pitchers ever.

So for every baseball purest that says steroids/performance enhancing drugs destroy the integrity of the game – check that statement at the door and try again.

Who are the P.E.D’s hurting?  The players themselves? Maybe, but ask them if they care after putting up career numbers while on something and signing a multi-year/multi-million dollar contract. . .

People want to see pitchers that are at their best against hitters that are at their best.  How exciting is it really for most teams in the majors when they get passed their number five hitter in the lineup?   Not very, is the answer.

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Baseball needs to stop saying that P.E.D use is un-ethical.  Marlon Byrd was found with P.E.Ds in his system for the second time and has received a 162 game suspension.  It should tell folks something that he knew after his first time getting caught what would happen, but the risk was “still” worth it to him.

Baseball likes to muffle the  personalities of those who make sport interesting like Bryce Harper and Matt Harvey.   This is the same sport that says you shouldn’t show boat after a home-run but it’s okay to throw a 95 mph fastball at someone’s head for showboating.

Break out of your bubble, baseball.  You’re old and you’re tired.

G.W. Gras

Twitter @GeeSteelio

NY Sports Today, Pt. 4: The MLB

New York Mets:

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The Metropolitans find themselves in an unfamiliar space.  They – not the Yankees – are the best team in New York, and their are lofty expectations that come with that claim.   Tom Verducci of Sports Illustrated has called the New York Mets’ pitching rotation to be “the best in baseball.”  When your biggest problem is NOT knowing who your “number one” pitcher is – and all of them have “the goods” – your problems are pretty awesome.  Noah Syndergaard, Steven Matz, Matt Harvey and Jacob DeGrom lead the charge with veteran Bartolo Colon and (a-hopefully-ready by mid-season) Zack Wheeler rounding out a possible six man rotation.  The Mets pitching staff is their lifeline and it should be enough to carry them into the playoffs.  David Wright’s spine didn’t agree with him last year and was limited to less than forty games during the regular season, but looked pretty good in the post-season and in spring training this year.  If right can give them consistent production at the third base spot, the Mets will have that corner of the infield in good hands. It showed on one-too-many occasions last year, how much his glove was missed at the “hot corner.”  The Mets re-signed Yoenis Cespedes to a big deal, and they better hope this isn’t a case of a “sucker them in deal.”  Cespedes’ bat was a much needed addition to the Mets’ offense and he helped lead the charge into the playoffs from the Summer and on.  Mets fans are weary of the showboat though (if anybody caught his opening day lackluster drop in left field, that should be enough reason to justify that worry.)  Curtis Granderson is a fan favorite with one of the most vicious swings in baseball.  His stat line is confusing though – he strikes out a lot, but it seems when he’s not striking out, he’s getting on base or driving in a run.  The Mets have a century to go before ever being mentioned in the same breath with the New York Yankees, but this is their moment and it’s now or never for the blue and orange boys out of Queens.

 

New York Yankees:

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Some will say that last year proved one can never count the New York Yankees out, the others will say – they got lucky.  You’re kind of right if you’re on either side of the argument.  The Yankees are the most recognizable sports franchise in America and for good reason.  The legacy alone, strikes fear into competition and if “hate” truly concealed “jealousy” – the Yankees are swimming among weaker human emotions as they hold their numerous banners high in the greatest city in the world – New York. But last year – was pretty lucky if we’re being honest.  The resurgence of a forgotten Mark Texiera and a public relations nightmare in Alex Rodriguez, ended up being the most important pieces to this line up.  Texiera had an on-base-percentage of .357, a slugging percentage of .548 and 100 hits last season.  A-Rod blasted 33 homers with 131 RBI, a year after being suspended for PED use.  The Yankees know they’d be hard pressed depending on their veterans for the same kind of production again so they signed former Chicago Cub, Starlin Castro.  The Yankees will most likely try to find a places for their big young bats  Greg Bird and Aaron Judge.  Both of these kids display some raw power at the plate and if the vets struggle, it won’t take long for these kids to be put into place.  The Yankees starting pitching is a bit nerve racking and inconsistent, which is why the Yankees were thrilled that they had guys for the 7th, 8th and 9th innings to close games in Andrew  Miller, Dellin Betances and Aroldis Chapman – but a domestic incident resulted in a 30 game suspension for Chapman, which resulted in Miller getting the closer spot – and now Miller is pitching through a wrist injury to start the season.  The Yankees had a nice start to the season last year and burned out towards the end.  The same may happen again – and that’s thinking positively.

G.W. Gras

twitter @GeeSteelio

A-Rod: Heel Turned Face

In the wrestling world, if you’re a good guy – you’re a face, and if you’re a bad guy – you’re a heel.  A lot of politics goes into who gets a push as a face or a heel and its ultimately determined by the fans reactions to the wrestlers.

When the WWE started to showcase Stone Cold Steve Austin,  he was a typical heel – bald head, all black attire,  never smiled and played dirty.  He was first greeted by boos from the crowd and then something happened – the fans loved him.  The swearing, beer drinking loner who opposed all authority became the guy everyone rooted for.  Even Dwayne “the Rock” Johnson, was a cocky, arrogant heel who the crowd hated. . . then eventually they loved to hate. . . and ultimately ended up loving.

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It seems that the WWE broke America’s code.  The code is:  if you’re told to hate something too much, you’ll eventually just love it.

Want proof?

How many times have you watched Al Pacino in Scarface and hoped by some miracle the movie has an alternate ending which keeps the cocaine fueled drug lord alive?   For those that watched Gangs of New York -was there a character more entertaining than  Daniel Day Lewis’ portrayal of the psychotic, Bill the Butcher?  Tyler Durden ran mayhem in every major city in America, in the movie Fight Club – and yet you left the theatre thinking “he was probably the coolest guy ever. ” Pick a Joker – Jack Nicholson, the late Heath Ledger – hey even Caesar Romero – all portrayed what was supposed to be bad – but it was portrayed so well, we loved it.

In the case of Alex Rodriguez, he made himself the bad guy.  Between the performance enhancing drugs, the lying and his “beef” with the golden-boy of the New York Yankees, Derek Jeter (the ultimate face) –  Alex Rodriguez dug himself into a place that is rarely visited by one who at one time was considered to be a great in the game of baseball.    The Biogenesis Scandal didn’t help his efforts in gaining any supporters either.  He was suspended the entire 2014 season and since his suspension he’s been at war with the New York Yankees.

The Yankees tried to get out of his lucrative contract (including milestone bonuses) and made efforts publicly of not mentioning his name – and if his name was forced upon the Yankees organization, they would speak about him in obvious disgust.

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Think about this. . .

Major League Baseball legitimately screwed up, when they couldn’t nail Barry Bonds for his use of performance enhancing drugs.  While under speculation, Bonds was spitting in the MLB’s face by destroying it’s precious home run record.   Bonds was “the one” Major League Baseball wanted, they couldn’t get him – so they had to make an example out of A-Rod.   The difference between Bonds and A-Rod was that Bonds really deep down could care less what people thought of him while Alex has always been about his public perception.  Major League Baseball was assisted by one of the most powerful franchise in professional sports, the New York Yankees, in trying to disgrace the name and reputation of Alex Rodriguez.  They made sure newspapers graced their back and front pages with expressions like “A-Fraud” or “A-Roid” while reaching deep, seeking people who would do interviews with the sole purpose of “selling him out.”

People hated him already.   This would surely build on that hatred and hopefully keep Alex Rodriguez away from the game of baseball for good.  Right? . . . .

Alex had other plans.

Alex Rodriguez decided to “compound” his heel-like ways and formed a tag-team with Barry Bonds.   Bonds worked as A-Rod’s hitting coach in the off-season, helping Rodriguez get his form back.  This is like the Emperor in Star Wars taking Darth Vader under his wing.

A funny thing happened to the most hated man in baseball though. . . in spring training, he was greeted with applause and cheers.  People yelling “Go Alex” while he was doing interviews.  People got tired of the “piling on.”  Even going into the season, when Alex Rodriguez stepped to the plate, fans cheered – when he hit his first homerun of the year, they applauded – even the next morning – sports radio and television personalities seemed to smile in re-calling the action.

Why?

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Well, simply put – Major League Baseball and the New York Yankees tried so hard to vilify Alex Rodriguez that they made him a sympathetic character.  They somehow made him the underdog people could root for, he became the loner riding against authority and he became for the first time in his career – relatable.

The New York Yankees pulled the ultimate Vince McMahon move. They put Alex  in a spot that looks impossible to get out of unscathed, so of course, us as humans we don’t want to see him get pummeled to a pulp, or kicked while he’s down – we’d rather see him claw his way back up and earn some respect.

If Major League Baseball would’ve went on with their business, without the smear campaign, there would be no pity for Alex.  Instead, this all backfired.  Sure Alex is far removed from the monster of a player he once was and nobody is certain how this will all turn out in the end, but one thing is for sure – A-Rod v.s. the Yanks, will be the only rivalry worth watching for baseball fans in New York this season. . .

G.W. Gras

twitter @GeeSteelio