Keidel: A-Rod’s Poker Face

By Jason Keidel
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Hey, you.

Come here.

A little closer…


Now listen with eager ears.

Alex Rodriguez is not Pablo Escobar because he plays a little poker on the side. No doubt I feast on malfeasance for a living, but a man playing a game that’s illegal only because it didn’t occur in a casino is hardly a crime wave.

And those who see A-Rod’s gambling habit (and don’t wear a habit themselves) need to look inside themselves and not use contrived crimes as a funnel for more questionable conduct. And ask yourself where you were when Michael Jordan dropped millions at the craps table, or when he was bilked by golf pros who preyed on MJ’s legendary allergy for losing and lust for competition in all forms.

You use Page Six fodder to fuel your A-Rod rage. Any perceived misconduct is a pretext to pummel the lucky man who wears the unlucky number (13). Maybe he’s even unluckier in love and five-card draw. What do we care?

This slope slides us into salty, societal waters. It becomes tempting to use an athlete’s legal transgression to question the wisdom of the law he broke You wonder why prostitution, drinking, and gambling were illegal at various points and places in America. But this ignorant sportswriter will not go there.

And you’re placing me a most incongruous position – defending Alex Rodriguez. Lord knows there are myriad reasons to root against him on and off the field. He spent the bulk of his career concerned only with his numbers, not his winning percentage. He dates supermodels and superstars and then becomes indignant when TMZ takes a picture of popcorn pinched into his mouth by a famous actress – at the Super Bowl!

He chose to shoot his tan tush with equine potions that would make Seabiscuit blush. He made the remarks about Derek Jeter to Esquire. He rips off his shirt and suns in Central Park for the paparazzi to ponder. He opted out of his contract during a World Series not involving his team, wrenching the spotlight from the Fall Classic, and, finally, he flew a stripper across the country while his wife cared for his kids His trysts and turns are amply archived. And yes, MLB has warned him about playing these high-stakes games because of the elements hosting them and what they attract. We said he’s beautiful, not brilliant.

Not sure why MLB is so worried about any poker game, as long as Alex didn’t snort a sandwich bag of cocaine, which is apparently prevalent at some of these games. Didn’t the mob run Las Vegas for about four decades? They aren’t worried about the “elements” that a casino attracts, from hookers to drug dealers to game fixers? This is all so confusing and contradictory.

But A-Rod’s faux pas are foolish, not felonious. Some of the hatred just has to be displaced envy. Superficially, he has the bona fides of success. He’s handsome, somewhat savvy, and athletically divine, his whole body fitted for a baseball diamond. So what’s the beef? Is it just that you want to be like him and hate that you can’t? Please help me understand.

For the more reserved detractors, those who dislike A-Rod for reasonable reasons, you’re not popping the Crystal or guzzling the Haterade today. When you root for or against something or someone and keep it in context, your celebrations are more muted. There’s absolutely no reason I can think of for a sane person to cheer an investigation into a game of cards. Speaking as a man, I’m unaware of any man who hasn’t played an illegal card game, if the definition is any game played for cash money without the state sanctioning it and hence extracting its own vigorish. You’re technically breaking the law when you play king of the cubicles every March for money, when you apply your algorithms to the NCAA brackets.

Speaking of cards, I’ve seen some disgusting posturing form the A-Rod apologists, dealing from a bottomless deck of race cards, declaring that MLB hunts Hispanic players. Gibberish. This is the game of Jackie Robinson and Roberto Clemente, two heroes who endured rampant racism so that A-Rod needn’t. There’s no doubt A-Rod gets more than his share of the glare, but he brings much of the heat upon himself.

Maybe Lady Gaga can sing “Poker Face” before A-Rod’s next plate appearance, while Suzyn “Oh, My Goodness!” Waldman can wax poetic and offer a slobbering montage of A-Rod’s greatest moments. And then we can call it a day.

Alex Rodriguez plays third base, also coined the hot corner, a fitting metaphor for a man always in scalding public waters. Cheer or jeer him as you like, but don’t bet on this goose chase. Pun intended, fun defended.

Feel free to email me:

Is A-Rod’s poker habit a big deal? Leave a comment below.

  • jimi

    In this site you can find a great guide to almost all types of poker deposit methods. You can learn how to fund your online poker account with real money.

  • Emma

    poor A.Rod or should I say poor Cameron? this is one pain when things are out of hand when you are playing! Which online casinos have been prevented — I guess my friend said he’s playing at and says that either the play ran out of money or he can’t play unless he financed his account. hmm

  • JK

    Good points, yg49. Also, we can reasonably refer to Leonard Little and Donte Stallworth,who literally killed civilians while driving drunk. They spent a combined 90 days in jail. So the hubris and hypocrisy beats on, against the current.

    • Morpheus

      he is breaking the law AGAIN! he needs to pay. He should be drummed out of baseball !!! why write about him ?!

      • Jonas A-K

        Good one.

      • JK

        Tongue and cheek, I hope…?

  • yg49

    The difference here is that back then players made peanuts so it was very tempting when the “undesirables” came calling to agree to throw games for money. Today’s players, even those making league minimum are comfortable enough financially that they don’t need to even think about doing anything remotely close to what the Black Sox did.

    As for Selig, forget him ignoring steroids, since Feb SIX players have been arrested for drunk driving. How many were suspended? ZERO..that’s how many.

    And then we have THIS from a blog post: In 1997, Albert Belle admitted to not just gambling, but illegally betting on professional sports, and losing at least $40,000. (Hat tip — Baseball Think Factory.) MLB investigated it to see if he had bet on baseball, determined that he hadn’t, and never instituted any sort of disciplinary action about his bets. At the time the story broke, Sports Illustrated ran this about the issue (emphasis added):
    The revelation that Albert Belle indulges heavily and frequently in sports betting had barely come to light last week when the pooh-poohing began. Even before pledging that baseball would investigate Belle’s gambling, acting commissioner Bud Selig reminded the press that betting pools and friendly wagers are a part of every big league clubhouse. Jerry Reinsdorf, chairman of the Chicago White Sox, the team that signed Belle to a five-year, $55 million free-agent contract in November, said he was “not worried” because “there is no indication Albert bet on baseball.” Belle himself downplayed the gambling issue, telling USA Today that he did not bet on baseball and that he and his teammates merely bet casually on other sports. Said Belle, “It’s no different than anyone else’s office pool.”

    Selig has instituted a witch hunt as far as Arod is concerned. Arod was supposed to be the clean face of baseball, then the steroid thing came out, making Selig have to deal with the issue front and center once again.

    • Jonas A-K

      Tough to argue with that. I’ll admit – I certainly used to look to A-Rod as the clean face of baseball, even though I hated the guy, because it was nice to think that someday, someone would break Bonds’ records without using PEDs, and who better than A-Rod, a guy whose skill we all admired?

      Then he didn’t break any records (yet), and used PEDs anyway. I’m with you that this is certainly suspicious on Selig’s part, though.

  • Jonas A-K

    Even though A-Rod is already an immense public figure, this incident will undoubtedly teach another legion of ignorami to hate the guy for all the wrong reasons. Of course A-Rod always puts money first – I learned that back in the ’00-’01 offseason when both he AND Hampton burned the Mets. If you recall, A-Rod was practically wearing his Mets uniform during the postseason that year. Then they made that huge to-do about whether or not he’d resign with the Yanks, and made the announcement right in the middle of the Boston-Colorado World Series…

    But we’ve really forgotten to hate A-Rod in recent years, mainly thanks to his declining production, overall lack of spotlight-worthy activities and the fact that there’s this guy Jeter on his team taking up the attention like it’s nobody’s business. If anything, this “controversy” will rekindle the discussion of how much of a hateworthy guy he is. But, like I said, it’ll undoubtedly be for the wrong reasons – so thank you, Jason, for bringing to light all the right reasons once more. I’m with you that it’s tough to defend A-Rod ever, but at least you’ve presented it in a way that says, “Look, at least hate A-Rod the right way…”

    • JK

      All lovely points, Jonas, as usual. And lest we forget it was A-Rod who deferred to Derek and assumed third base while he was a way better SS than Jeter. Remember how Jeter bristled at the idea of switching positions when A-Rod arrived? Like he owns the damn infield dirt!

  • Robert Richardson

    Maybe MLB is being overly sensitive to “any” gambling implications due to the historical ramifications of the Black Sox scandal … Maybe

    • Jonas A-K

      The thing about the Black Sox scandal, though, along with Pete Rose and Mets ex-clubhouse manager Charlie Samuels is that all that gambling was on the very games which those in question were involved in (suddenly it all made sense to me how Samuels knew the Mets’ exact record wearing any given uniform).

      The only halfway-logical reason for this investigation would be to see if A-Rod’s high-stakes poker gambling – which seems the norm for those with lots of money, as seen by the whole Tobey Maguire “scandal” – might also have led to some high-stakes baseball gambling. That’s really the only possible problem with it. If Selig’s men somehow discover that A-Rod’s ghastly postseasons have been caused by some modern real-life Meyer Wolfsheim slipping some cash into his pocket, then we have something to worry about.

      But as it stands, right now all I see is a rich guy doing what he wants with his record-setting money. Maybe Bud’s just jealous that he hasn’t been invited to join the table.

      • JK

        I read a person’s comments on another A-Rod piece (on this site) where he wrote that gambling is far more destructive than steroids.

        Really? When was the last time gambling gutted our pastime? Pete Rose aside – and his gambling damage was oblique at best – I’m unaware of any betting ring since the beloved Black Sox.

        Steroids tainted 20 years, synthesized the record books, and drained an entire era of its validity. Nor do we even know that it’s over! Do we test for HGH? Is there another chemist or chemical already inching ahead of testing?

    • JK

      I’d like to think that’s the reason, Robert. But is there anything in Bud Selig’s history to suggest such wisdom or foresight? He ignores steroids but pounces on poker games?

  • Kurt Spitzner

    So Bud Selig can play favorites with baseball teams going to whom he decides at his own discretion,but the same powers that be are taking the time to see what A-Rod does as if any of it compares with the complicit acts commited MLB in the steroid years all in the name of the great American passtime?
    I feel that investigating A-Rod or anyone else for that matter for “illegal” gambling makes as much sense as canning Charlie Sheen for acting in his real life in a manner that afforded him and the tv station the ability to make alot of money capitalizing on that same image on the tv screen yet he violated some morals clause????????????????PLEASE DON’T WE HAVE MORE IMPORTANT THINGS GOING ON IN BASEBALL THAT NEED TO BE DEALT WITH???????

    • JK

      I couldn’t agree more, Kurt. Well said. If only you had the commissioner’s ear on this.

      • Jonas A-K

        Indeed. Though I’m not 100% sure what it is, there must be something he’s trying to distract us with by delving into this unnecessary issue.

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