This season marks a new era in Major League Baseball. MLB has announced an “official” partnership with DraftKings. Draftkings is an app for playing fantasy sports. Basically, once you download the app you can “buy in” and begin playing on a day-by-day basis, and you can win money based upon the performances of the players you select.
Why do I say this is a new era? Because for the first time, Major League Baseball is in the business of gambling on baseball. Let me repeat that…Major League Baseball is in the business of gambling on baseball.
In the past, MLB has always had a zero tolerance policy when it comes to gambling. Great players like Joe Jackson have been banned for life for merely taking money from gamblers, despite not doing anything to throw games. Pete Rose, the all-time leader in hits, has been banned for betting on his own team. As many times as Rose has asked for reinstatement, or as many times as people have petitioned on behalf of Jackson (or his teammate Buck Weaver), baseball has always refused on the basis of zero-tolerance.
Now that MLB has entered into a partnership with DraftKings, any attempt to justify keeping Rose or Jackson from being reinstated, and ultimately considered for the Baseball Hall Of Fame, is a false equivalency on MLB’s part.
In the past, MLB has always been able to claim a moral high ground when it comes to gambling. Now they are active participants. As such, there is now implicit approval toward gambling on baseball. In fact, as much as they may want to believe this will never find its way down to players, they have accepted the very real risk that it will.
In fact, at this point, how would they punish any players who use a product endorsed by MLB? What if some relief pitcher is in a game, 4 or 5 runs ahead or behind, facing a hitter that he picked on DraftKings? What if a manager picked one of his guys on DraftKings and leaves him in or takes him out based upon his value in fantasy points? Isn’t that exactly why Rose was suspended?
Yet here we are. MLB has decided to take the revenue from gambling, and therefore must take all the circumstances ot that revenue. And a huge circumstance is that they no longer have any justification to preserve the banishments of players who have been involved with gambling on baseball.
They’ve sold their guardianship of the integrity of the game.