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Wednesday, August 13, 2014

How a small-time handicapper concocted a wild MLB game-fixing tale

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.

RoyalsRetro (AG#1F) Posted: August 13, 2014 at 12:08 PM | 20 comment(s)
  Beats: cubs, fixed games, gambling, jeff locke, pirates

Thursday, August 07, 2014

Joe Kelly Notches Hit Against Friend Shelby Miller, Wins ‘Bet’

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.”

The District Attorney Posted: August 07, 2014 at 03:00 PM | 9 comment(s)
  Beats: cardinals, gambling, joe kelly, red sox, shelby miller

Wednesday, March 12, 2014

Posnanski: The Dutch Leonard Affair

Maximum Poz!

[Tigers owner Frank] Navin and [American League president] Ban Johnson handled the [Dutch] Leonard unpleasantness in a way that will be familiar to everyone who watches political movies or followed the Tony Bosch Biogenesis story — they paid him off… At the end of the season, Ban Johnson told [Ty] Cobb and [Tris] Speaker that they needed to retire…

When the players saw Dutch Leonard’s rather flimsy evidence — two alternately specific and vague letters that did not have any word of a fix, specifically cleared Cobb of laying down a bet and did not mention Speaker at all — there was some fury. The players demanded that Dutch Leonard come to Chicago so they could face their accuser. Leonard replied that, no, he would not come…

Well, that really set off Cobb, Speaker and [Smokey Joe] Wood… They believed (and were generally right) that if people saw the smoky evidence, they would side with Cobb and Speaker. By most accounts, it was Cobb and Speaker who asked [Commissioner Kenesaw Mountain] Landis to release all the records…

It’s clear from Leonard’s response that he had already won his fight. Leonard had received $20,000 for two letters and he had cast doubt on the legacies of the two men he blamed most for running him out of the game… “I got my revenge,” he told the writer Damon Runyon…

On January 16, 1927 Johnson made a long statement to the press. It was, to be blunt, a complete and utter meltdown by the once great man…

Johnson was going Joe McCarthy, saying he had all sorts of secret information he had no intention of sharing with Landis … but he definitely had it. And he saved his angriest stuff for Landis, calling his release of information an attempt for personal publicity and saying he had this whole thing under control before the commissioner butted in…

When Johnson appeared before Landis in a hearing that the papers hyped like it was a heavyweight fight, he had to admit that he had nothing. He had been bluffing. And he was a goner…

My sense, based on the way Ban Johnson lashed out at Speaker, is that he had a personal grudge or hidden reasons to believe Speaker was dirty. He may have been guilty but, based on what we can prove, he should never for have been included in this scandal…

As for Cobb… I do not believe the 1917 game was “fixed” as we might generally view that word. I think the ethics of the time were different and on September 25, 1919 the Tigers had motivation to win and the Indians did not… if this had all happened In Pete Rose’s time, I think Cobb would have been banned for life even if nothing else was proved… Cobb was a great player who obviously played to win. He lived in a time, however, where gambling on baseball was rampant and tore at the fiber of the game. I’m not persuaded that he was was above his era.

 


 

 

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