Jay Lovinger has an interesting take on the A-Rod gambling non-issue on ESPN.com's Page 2 (yes, I know I was as shocked as you are that there's something worth reading on the internet's premier Red Sox masturbation fest).
Of course, this would be much ado about nothing even if the team had (told Alex to stop playing poker - ed.), since there is nothing illegal about playing in illegal card rooms in New York City. It is only illegal to run one for profit, a point made clear in the story itself and in an accompanying sidebar about the fact that many celebrity poker players frequent these establishments. The story also acknowledges that the Yankees -- and Major League Baseball, which is said to be "keeping an eye" on A-Rod -- are powerless to stop him from playing in these "underground poker dens." (For the record, A-Rod's agent, the much-loved Scott Boras, denies that anybody has warned his client about playing in the clubs.)
Of course, since this is New York, and the story involves the Yankees, conspiracy theories are bound to arise. Here are a couple of possibilities:
(1) The Yankees know A-Rod has a gambling problem, a la Michael Jordan, and they are trying to head it off by putting public pressure on him. Seems unlikely. For one thing, according to previously published reports, A-Rod has been playing in $5-$5 no-limit games, where the most money you could possibly win or lose is a few thousand dollars. And even that would be some kind of maniacal $5-$5 game. For somebody with A-Rod's income -- in the neighborhood of $30 million or more a year between salary and endorsements -- that's the equivalent of you or me losing 20 bucks or so. For another thing, if the Yankees are trying to pressure A-Rod through a newspaper, it would be the New York Times.
(2) For some reason, the Yankees are trying to slime A-Rod. Always a possibility, though they prefer to use that kind of strategy on pitching coaches. But who knows? Historically, players who range in ability from none (Hideki "Fat Pussy Toad" Irabu) to Hall of Fame (Dave "Mr. May" Winfield) have received the slime treatment during the reign of The Boss.
(3) The Yankees and MLB are scared stiff that one of their biggest stars is going to get involved in some kind of 21st Century version of the Black Sox Scandal, just when the world champion Chicago White Sox have effaced that stain. The Black Sox stars were making less than $10,000 a year; in some cases, a lot less. A-Rod makes $30 million a year. He'd have to spend the rest of his life, 24/7, in illegal poker clubs playing at the highest stakes those clubs offer and never win a single hand before he even began to approach a debt he couldn't easily afford to pay off.
So yeah. A-Rod has a gambling problem when he's not breaking the law and playing at $5 tables. Hell, *I* play at higher stakes tables than Alex does on a regular basis.
However I would like to add to Jay's list:
(4) The Daily News is a crap paper with very little credibility and as proven by their "premier columnist" Mike the Italian Leprechaun Lupica they have an agenda against Alex Rodriguez and this is simply the latest example.
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