Sportsbooks can start putting out betting odds on whether Yankees 3B Alex Rodriguez will be suspended for his alleged involvement in an underground high stakes poker game with a number of notable Hollywood celebrities.
But let’s engage in some real talk for a moment. Is this really an issue that the MLB needs to waste time investigating? Why does the MLB care about what its players do in their leisure time? What rule did A-Rod break by playing poker?
Unless they can come up with some proof that A-Rod, who is currently rehabbing from knee surgery, is, or was betting on baseball games, what’s the problem? There are reports that cocaine and fighting were involved during these underground poker games, but there’s no evidence that A-Rod was involved. Is the MLB now punishing players for the company they keep and if so, under what basis?
The National Post wrote an interesting article regarding the issue. In the article, author Guy Spurrier noted that there’s no specific rule that prohibits players from playing poker. The article cites MLB’s Rule 21, which covers the ways in which players and officials can compromise the integrity of games, but the rule only states in subsection (d) that people associated with baseball cannot bet on baseball games.
That said, the MLB has a history of overstepping its bounds when it comes to issue of gambling. Baseball legends Mickey Mantle and Willie Mays were banned in 1983 for five years for accepting jobs with Atlantic City casinos and this came after their playing days were over.
Citing unnamed sources close to the league, Sports Illustrated doesn’t think the MLB will take disciplinary action against A-Rod, rather, he will likely only be warned and re-educated about how to stay out of “bad situations”.
It sounds like A-Rod might just be grounded from playing high stakes poker for a while. But even so, what gives the MLB the right to do that? It’s just poker.
If the MLB wants to crack down on their players playing poker, they can start on the team buses, hotels, airplanes, and wherever else players gather in the minor leagues and work their way up to every single major league club where they will certainly find players engaging in friendly poker games and other card games of chance.
What’s next? Are we going to hear about a player being fined or suspended for playing Big Two or a game of Spades?