Manfred's comments about gambling show Rothstein was on to something

Manfred's comments about gambling show Rothstein was on to something

So maybe Arnold Rothstein wasn’t such a villain for fixing the 1919 World Series after all. Maybe he was just 98 years ahead of his time.

Oh, don’t get us wrong, Rothstein was an awful human being on any number of fronts, and if there is a hell, he’s working on one of the coal-fired boilers.

But Major League Baseball commissioner Rob Manfred’s latest attempt to introduce a more earnest discussion about legalized sports betting (hint: MLB has equity in DraftKings) is a sign that Rothstein was on to something – but just took it a bit too far.

(We will now pause while you consider how Michael Lerner’s portrayal of him in Eight Men Out was superior to Michael Stuhlbarg’s version in Boardwalk Empire).

Manfred spent time on a panel with NBA commissioner Adam Silver and  is doubling down on remarks he made last year about looking at baseball’s relationships with legalized gambling, but added the notion of what he calls “a federal framework” for sports betting that would expand current law prohibiting single-game betting outside Nevada.

Baseball has already put one foot in the water by allowing casinos to advertise in their ballparks – money in – and their investment in DraftKings suggests that after an idiotic attempt to seize the proprietary rights to baseball statistics – money out – that they are planning to get back ahead of the gambling curve – money back in.

It is difficult to quantify if this will get younger people with younger disposable income more interested in the sport, but it is an undertapped market, and you know how entrepreneurs hate an untapped market.

That’s what Rothstein saw in 1919, after all, when the scheme to fix the Series was brought to him, after all. He could not have known, for example, that his work would inspire the making of almost certainly the best baseball movie of all time, but he knew a fast buck when he saw one.

In fairness, Manfred is not saying he is going to steer right toward legalized single-game wagering. Among other things, there is the matter of repealing PAPSA, the law that prohibits such betting outside our neighbor to the east, and repealing a law takes years (as opposed to executive orders, which can be dashed off without a moment’s thought).

In addition, it would be exceedingly difficult to actually fix a game given the levels of money it would take to buy off an influential principal (say, a manager or umpire, let alone a player). I mean, in case you were worried that there are budding future Rothsteins out there – besides, most of them are more prone to get into hedge fund management.

But Manfred, like Silver, is acknowledging that betting goes on – as opposed to NFL harlequin Roger Goodell, whose industry generates the most gambling money of all – and that if there is money on the table to be had, they’d both be very much in favor of having it.

Of course, this opens mild debates on whether the potential Hall of Famers who have been kept out because of gambling, most notably Shoeless Joe Jackson and Pete Rose, but while that would greatly amuse the chattering classes who love Hall of Fame debates because of the way it eats up time that would otherwise be wasted on loved ones and charity work, that’s not what this is about.

This is about the accumulation of a share of the as-yet-undercharted gambling world, and now that the NHL is invading Las Vegas and the NFL is considering it, the anachronism of denying its impact sits poorly both with Silver and Manfred.

Besides, the fleeting notion of Arnold Rothstein being inducted into the Hall of Fame some day is simply too delicious not to promote. Michael Lerner can accept the award on his behalf, and can designate Michael Stuhlbarg to present him. That way, nobody’s feelings get hurt, and everyone goes away slightly wealthier for the Bizarro World experience.

Chris Stratton traded by Giants to Angels for reliever Williams Jerez

Chris Stratton traded by Giants to Angels for reliever Williams Jerez

SAN FRANCISCO -- The Giants finished their exhibition game well after 11 p.m. on Monday night. They weren't done for the day. 

One minute before midnight, the Giants announced that they traded right-hander Chris Stratton to the Angels in exchange for left-handed reliever Williams Jerez. In a related move, lefty Andrew Suarez was optioned to Triple-A, all but setting the rotation.

Asked after the game if he had an order of starting pitchers, manager Bruce Bochy was coy.

"You'll see why here soon," Bochy said.

A few minutes later the Giants announced they have parted ways with a former first-round pick who seemed headed for the long reliever role. 

Stratton, taken 20th overall in 2012, lived up to that promise at times, delivering a couple of strong stretches in the rotation. But he was inconsistent, posting a 4.63 ERA overall in 48 big league appearances. He entered the spring without a hold on a job, and it seemed his only chance at sticking was to be the last man in the bullpen. Stratton was out of options. 

Jerez, 26, made his debut last season and had a 6.00 ERA in 17 relief appearances for the Angels. He struck out exactly a batter per inning. Jerez averaged 9.4 strikeouts per nine in the minors, although walks have been an issue. A second-rounder in 2011, he has a 3.55 ERA in 171 minor league relief appearances.

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Suarez had a strong rookie season but was on the outside looking in all spring. He'll be the next man up, with the rotation seemingly going with Madison Bumgarner, Derek Holland, Dereck Rodriguez, Drew Pomeranz and Jeff Samardzija in that order. 

Of course, that could change Tuesday. You never quite know these days.

Giants' Derek Holland vows that Dodgers won't win NL West in 2019


Giants' Derek Holland vows that Dodgers won't win NL West in 2019

The 2019 season hasn't yet started (for 28 teams, at least), and the Dodgers have already wrapped up their seventh straight NL West crown.

At least that's how pundits see things shaking out this year.

Fangraphs projects that the Dodgers will win 93 games and win the division by 12 games over the Rockies. CBS Sports asked five of their writers to predict the NL West standings and all five have the Dodgers on top.

Giants starting pitcher Derek Holland doesn't want to hear it.

"That's the thing people need to understand, it's awesome to see how we're the underdog and we're taking advantage of that," Holland told NBC Sports Bay Area's Amy G during the Giants-A's broadcast on Monday night. "Nobody is picking us to do anything, they've already crowned the Dodgers, they voted that they're going to be the champs. Yeah, that's not happening. We're definitely going to make some noise."

Holland told Amy G that the players in the Giants clubhouse have a lot of confidence in themselves.

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We appreciate Holland's belief in his squad. In order to back up his words, the Giants are going to have to overcome low expectations. Fangraphs projects them to finish in last place, and all those same five CBS Sports writers have the Giants in the cellar.

Hey, if the Giants do shock people and dethrone the Dodgers, it will be one hell of a story.