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.

Tim Flannery finds inspiration after tragedies, releases new album


Tim Flannery finds inspiration after tragedies, releases new album

SAN FRANCISCO -- Tim Flannery has released 14 albums, pulling inspiration from all kinds of sources. Sometimes he would write about the music scene in a certain city, or a character he met during his decades on the road playing and coaching baseball.

But the album Flannery will release Saturday has special meaning. Flannery wrote it after dealing with two different kinds of emotions. 

“This album really started probably out of tragedy,” he said this week.

Last January, Rob Picciolo, a longtime big league coach, and Kevin Towers, the former general manager of the Padres, passed away in the span of a few weeks. Flannery, the former Giants third base coach and current NBC Sports Bay Area analyst, found himself attending the funeral of a close friend on back-to-back weekends. He wrote a song about it called “The Light.”

Later in the year, Flannery’s son, Danny, called him and told him he would be going to rehab in Oregon. That experience was turned into “Ghost Town,” the second track on the album, also called “The Light.”

“That whole episode of dealing with it and even when he got out, some of the things he was thinking and saying about not wanting to go back to his ghost town again, that’s easy for me to relate to,” Flannery said. “I’m sure everybody has their ghost town. The next thing I know I’m writing another song out of it, and something else and something else, and a year and a half later, you’re playing these songs at shows.”

Flannery said he didn’t expect to make another album after his previous one, but he never stops playing, and he found new stories to tell. He said his son was happy that the story was being told through music. 

“He said, ‘I think we can help other people deal with things.’ He’s all-in,” Flannery said. “He’s a changed man and asked me to tell the story.”

Tim Flannery & The Lunatic Fringe will debut the album on Saturday at the Fox Theatre in Redwood City. All proceeds will go to the non-profit Love Harder Project for anti-bullying and anti-violence programs across the country.

“This record is for me like a burning light in a world that has gone dark at times,” Flannery said. “It’s gone dark for different people, for different reasons, but this record is a record of hope, a record of love and light.”

Cameron Maybin, on Giants this spring, to visit Oracle Park with Yankees

Cameron Maybin, on Giants this spring, to visit Oracle Park with Yankees

SAN FRANCISCO -- The Giants will face two Yankees lefties this weekend at Oracle Park, and for most of this spring, their plan would have called for Cameron Maybin to start those games. If Maybin is in the lineup this weekend, it'll be for the visitors. 

Maybin, a non-roster invitee in Giants camp this spring, was traded to the desperate Yankees on Thursday morning and added to their big league roster. The Yankees sent cash considerations to the Indians, who stashed Maybin at Triple-A after he was let go by the Giants. 

The Yankees turned to Maybin because of unbelievable injury issues in their outfield. Giancarlo Stanton, Aaron Judge and Aaron Hicks are on the DL, and Clint Frazier -- who hit six homers in fill-in duty -- joined them after spraining his left ankle earlier this season. Frazier became the 15th Yankee to hit the injured list (by comparison, the Giants have just one, the rehabbing Johnny Cueto).

The Giants at one point thought Maybin could form a platoon with Steven Duggar or provide depth in their corner outfield spots. But he had a poor spring on and off the field, and ultimately the front office started the year by taking a look at Michael Reed in that spot. It is now Kevin Pillar who provides the right-handed balance and plays center field.

[RELATED: What we learned from Giants' 4-4 road trip]

The Giants, it's fair to say, are happy with how this all turned out. 

Maybin played 14 games in Triple-A for the Indians, hitting .216 with three doubles and 13 walks.