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Should A-Rod Be Suspended for his Poker-Playing?

Alex Rodriguez/Pete Rose (Findallvideo.com)

Today, poker is the most popular card game in the United States, and one would be hard-pressed to find someone who doesn’t play the game or at least know someone who does. Recently, Yankees slugger Alex Rodriguez has been under fire for allegations he played at underground, high-stakes poker games. Although it may not be a wise choice for someone of Rodriguez’s celebrity status to gamble with unsavory characters, it is not illegal.

With the amount of money Rodriguez earns a year playing baseball and through endorsements, it would not be of interest for him to play low stakes poker, as many of the rest of us do. When MLB found out about the allegations, they stepped in and wanted to speak to Rodriguez regarding his role in the poker games.

Reasons for an Investigation

MLB officials raised concerns for several reasons. One reason being they felt that many of the people Rodriguez spent time playing poker with also gambled on other events, including baseball. In addition, officials worried about the chance of Rodriguez losing money in poker that he would be unable to pay back. MLB felt the possible debts opened up the possibility of Rodriguez purposefully affecting games to help pay back his debts, such as trying to lose a game on purpose. Also, MLB doesn’t like its players gambling in any capacity, unless attending a charitable event.

Concerns were further addressed because the allegations were against one of baseball’s highest profile players; Rodriguez is one of the most popular players on America’s most popular team. If the allegations had been against a lesser known player on the Florida Marlins, for example, it is highly unlikely that this escapade would have turned any heads. To top off the long list of troubles Rodriguez may face, he had already been warned by MLB in 2005 to avoid the very type of poker games he allegedly played in.

Possible Repercussions

It does not appear that Rodriguez will be suspended from baseball, nor should he be. Yes, Rodriguez gambled in a private poker game, but he did not gamble on baseball. Although playing underground high stakes poker games is not ideal for someone of Rodriguez’s status, there is nothing illegal about his actions. Some are comparing this to the Pete Rose Scandal, when Rose gambled on games while managing the Cincinnati Reds. The lead investigator of that scandal alleged that there was evidence that Rose not only gambled on games he managed, but sometimes would bet against the very team he was responsible for. Obviously, this would be more detrimental to the integrity of Major League Baseball than Rodriguez playing poker.

Conclusion

Rodriguez has been linked to romantic relationships with big name celebrities including, Madonna and Cameron Diaz, and Rodriguez must realize he is more than just a baseball player. His celebrity status does not preclude him from judgment, and for many people in America, and other parts of the world, Rodriguez is a celebrity, a hero, and an idol. Although Rodriguez broke no laws in participating in these games, he worked hard to become not only an outstanding player, but a man worthy of greater celebrity status, and he needs to make strides to make wiser decisions. In the future, Rodriguez should spend his time playing in legitimate poker games such as the World Poker Tour, celebrity poker tournaments, and other charitable events, in order to fulfill his poker needs. That being said, if he ever decides that low stakes poker will suit him, there is always room for him to play with my friends and I at my house.

About Saltzy

Stats:Age: 34 Sex: Male Favorite sports: Baseball, Football, Basketball Favorite Players: Jose Reyes, Eli Manning, Amare' Other hobbies: Poker, Fantasy Sports Title: Contributor Contact: saltz@sportsofnewyork.com I am a New York native who grew up watching the Mets, Giants and Knicks. I was too young to fully appreciate the championships the Mets won in 1986 and the Giants won in 1990, but was fully appreciative of the Giants 2007 Super Bowl win. I count 2-3-08 as one of the best days of my life. I moved to Boston with a few coworkers of mine that I hardly knew and took a big chance of moving to a city I barely knew anything about. I got along well with my roommates and my new city and decided to make it my permanent home, despite having difficulties following my favorite teams, due to living so far away from New York. I am extremely passionate about sports and will discuss the Giants Super Bowl win over the Patriots anytime, anyplace and with anybody. I am a social worker in the day and sports writer by night. I enjoy slaving over my laptop writing about sports. My ultimate dream would be to become a professional Texas Hold'em player. If you have any questions, or you want to privately comment on any of my posts, please feel free to email me: saltz@sportsofnewyork.com.

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