Wednesday, August 13, 2014
Gives new meaning to the phrase, “this game is a Locke.”
In the waning days of the 2012 major league season, Niki Congero received an unusual text message. It came from a man she had never met — a sports handicapper who for a couple of weeks had been texting unsolicited betting tips to her cellphone.
“LOL,” wrote the man, who identified himself as James Hunter from VIP Sports. “I got a baseball game that will be fixed on sunday.”...
At first the tips were nothing special, Congero told The Center for Investigative Reporting. Then the handicapper guaranteed her a winner in the Sept. 16 game between the Pirates and the Cubs at Wrigley Field. “My best friend is pitching today for the pirates,” Hunter texted. “His name is jeff locke. he will not have a good day.” In a later text he wrote, “Tell your biggest people that pirates game today is fixed. My friend will be throwing this game.”
Pittsburgh jumped out to an early lead behind Locke, a late-season call-up. While the Bucs were ahead, Congero says, the handicapper phoned her, acknowledging that the game wasn’t going the way he had predicted. He implied that he was in touch with the lefthander even as the game was under way….
Sure enough, in the bottom of the fifth inning, Locke fell apart….
MLB’s own investigators and organized-crime detectives from the New York City Police Department were deployed to learn the handicapper’s identity and unravel the plot.
Before it was over, their investigation would lead to a tense standoff by the side of an Arizona desert road, where more than a dozen armed officers confronted two frightened young women with a baby in an effort to track down James Hunter. The outcome would hinge on separating fact from fantasy in the interpersonal dynamics between two former youth-baseball teammates from a small New England town — one of whom grew up to become a major league pitcher, the other a sports gambler.
Thursday, August 07, 2014
That alibi is Nickolay Lame!
Joe Kelly came out on the winning end of his faceoff with Shelby Miller in more ways than one.
Though neither pitcher earned a decision Wednesday night in the Boston Red Sox’s 2-1 win over the St. Louis Cardinals, the two best friends had a chance to step into the batter’s box against each other for the first time in their major league careers.
Kelly, who was traded from the Cardinals to the Red Sox at the trade deadline, shared earlier in the week a wager he and Miller had made: If either player gets a hit off the the other, the pitcher owes the batter $100.
Miller didn’t have much of a chance in his first at-bat — Kelly walked him on four pitches — but Kelly came through in his, legging out an infield single that originally was ruled an out before being overturned by video replay…
Kelly now boasts a .500 batting average in a Red Sox uniform, but, as it turns out, he won’t be seeing that $100.
“That was a joke,” Miller said. “That was all fun and games.”
“I think he messed up (Tuesday) saying it was 100 bucks,” Kelly added. “It was 100 doll hairs, from a doll’s head. I’ll talk to him later.”
Even without the extra cash in his pocket, the 26-year-old spoke glowingly about his return to Busch Stadium, which welcomed him back with a standing ovation before his first trip to the plate.
“That was crazy,” Kelly said. “Definitely hard to put it in words. I got a whole standing ovation before I even started stretching. The Cardinals fans and the people here are so incredibly awesome. I can’t thank them enough for that. That was awesome. My heart started beating fast. I was just trying to keep it together.”
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