Commissioner Rob Manfred put the Baltimore Orioles and the rest of MLB on notice with his penalties to the Houston Astros this week regarding sign stealing and cheating. It’s not going to be tolerated. For the record, I agree with that, and I agree with the penalties to Houston (and eventually Boston).
However I also suspect that these penalties are being dished out for more reasons thank just the integrity of the game, per se. Professional sports, including Major League Baseball, are getting cozier and cozier with the gambling industry. I won’t get into the hypocrisy of this regarding baseball, but I’ll simply state that the fact is the league’s accepting gambling more and more.
PointsBet Sportsbook announced yesterday that any bets involving the New York Yankees, the Houston Astros, and/or the World Series in 2017 will be issued a full refund. Now while the Yankees’ sense of entitlement with 26 rings in their arsenal already does come across as smug, the fact is that anyone who placed a bet does have a legitimate gripe.
Sportsbooks are going to eventually be partners to various leagues. Heck, there are rumors that part of the new entertainment center at Nationals Park in Washington is going to be a Sportsbook. Can you imagine that? Gambling IN a big league park?
However if that’s going to become a thing, it behooves MLB to ensure that the games are fair more and more. And I suppose there’s some irony in that. Gambling helping to clean up the game. Imagine that.