More than 100 years removed from the Black Sox scandal, betting is still a bad word in Major League Baseball. Shoeless Joe Jackson and his White Sox teammates accused of throwing the 1919 World Series are not and probably never will be in the Hall of Fame. Pete Rose, who like Jackson had the stats and mystique to qualify for the Hall, is banned because of his gambling on games.
So it was with great surprise earlier this month when I read an announcement — on the MLB website, no less — that the Detroit Tigers entered into a “a dynamic new, multi-year partnership with PointsBet, a premier global sportsbook operator.”
Say it ain’t so.
Yes, the Detroit Tigers, a Major League Baseball franchise, have done a deal with a betting service “to enhance fan engagement and game-day excitement by providing access to unique experiences, content, promotions and more, in and around Comerica Park.”
It wasn’t long ago when MLB booted two of its best-ever players, Mickey Mantle and Willie Mays, for associating with Atlantic City casinos. Now the Tigers are inviting the touts into the front row and the luxury boxes.
This isn’t just a move by the Tigers. The announcement notes it’s an agreement “designating PointsBet as an Authorized Gaming Operator of MLB, and granting them rights to use official MLB data along with MLB marks and logos within PointsBet products.” I wonder if that data includes stats from Shoeless Joe’s playing days.
Just today, my email today brought me notice of an MLB Opening Day “Pick-’em” contest in which I can vie for $100,000 by picking the winner of every opening day game. Yes, contests are different from gambling, but when you offer 100 grand in prize money, that difference shrinks, in my estimation.
So much for the purity of the game, keeping out any hint of association with gambling and gamblers.