FORT MYERS, FLA. – Major League Baseball security held its annual meeting with the Twins on Friday, and among the issues was a review of baseball’s long-standing prohibitions against gambling. The exact rules against gambling for players and staff also were read to the entire clubhouse at the start of spring training last month, in both English and Spanish.
This anti-gambling reminder for the Twins came a couple of days after Peter Gammons, the baseball writing legend, broke the news that big-league teams would be required on gamedays to send their lineups to the commissioner’s office at least 15 minutes before they would be made public.
The commissioner’s office would then ship that information to their official gaming partner, MGM Resorts International, or any other public gambling enterprise that wanted to purchase this as part of a data feed for every game from MLB.
Pitcher Kyle Gibson, the senior Twins player in the clubhouse, was asked about this Friday and said: “It’s a bad look. I don’t think baseball should be taking gambling money.”
Then, he smiled and added: “When the players are saying we are the product and the players association should get a share of the money that has rolled the last few years from MLB Advanced Media, the owners say no.
“And now that gambling is opening up in more states, baseball management is saying to that industry, ‘We provide the product; we’re entitled to a share.’
“MLB has had DraftKings, or whatever it’s called, as a sponsor for a few years. Who do these guys get mad at when they lose? Us. And it’s entirely on us — and the umpires — to maintain the integrity of the game.”
The MLB statement after Gammons offered his tasty Twitter tidbit tried to make out the advance notice to MGM (and others) as an integrity issue; that getting the lineups before public release would allow the gaming houses to set a more informed betting line and better serve the public.
I don’t know about the rest of you occasional desert oasis visitors, but that’s always been my experience in Vegas sports books (including Leroy’s, where I watched the 1993 Super Bowl):
They are determined to do everything possible to have you make a wise and winning wager.
Actually, I made an attempt to get a comment on this MLB logic from Pete Rose, but a communiqué went unanswered. Maybe Pete, as the 30th anniversary approaches on Aug. 24 of his being banned from baseball for gambling, was laughing too hard at MLB’s doublespeak to take a call.
The advance notice on a lineup is more a symbol of baseball getting googly-eyed toward gambling than something that will have much impact on the way managers and teams operate. Going back to manager Tom Kelly, lineups for night games generally were posted in the Twins clubhouse by noon.
“And when I was going to play the ‘Bomb Squad’ in day games after night games, I’d go in the clubhouse and say, ‘You’re in there tomorrow, Bombers,’ ” Kelly said. “And they would show up at the ballpark excited, knowing they would play.”
New Twins manager Rocco Baldelli also plans much advance notice. What’s different now is that in Kelly’s day, sportswriters could walk in the clubhouse at 1 o’clock and see the lineup. Now, the media access starts much later.
“Once you have a lineup, you send it to the commissioner’s office and boom, that’s it,” Twins baseball boss Derek Falvey said. “If somebody shows up sick, or fouls a ball of his foot in BP and can’t go, that’s OK. You change the lineup … just like in the past. MLB has no problem with that.”
OK, but what container of worms is this opening? What will MGM, etc., want next? What arms are available in the bullpen? If you’re using an “opener,” and the Twins will get these eventually, is the commissioner’s office going to tell Baldelli to send along his next couple of pitchers?
“We have no issue with providing a lineup,” Falvey said. “We’ve been one of the team sending ours to the commissioner’s office as a dry run in spring training.
“Is this it — or will there be requests for more information down the road? If there’s a concern, that would be it. Teams are spending an enormous number of hours and dollars analyzing all aspects of a game, looking for small advantages. I don’t think any of us would be in favor of sharing that.”