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Five MLB Players Suspended For Betting On Baseball Games

money and a baseball changing hands with a no symbol placed on top

On Tuesday, five active players were suspended for betting on Major League Baseball. Anyone paying attention to professional sports and the gambling industry over the past year has probably noticed an uptick in player betting scandals.

In recent months, gambling controversies have occurred in the NBA, college football, and even college wrestling. The historical element of these MLB suspensions is that they include a lifetime ban for an active player, which is the first time that has happened in a century.

The last time a permanent suspension occurred to a player who was active was in 1924 when Jimmy O’Connell, an outfielder for the New York Giants outfielder, got caught gambling on baseball.

All-time hits leader Pete Rose was suspended for life in 1989, but he was a coach of the Cincinnati Reds at the time and had been retired as a player since 1986.

“The strict enforcement of Major League Baseball’s rules and policies governing gambling conduct is a critical component of upholding our most important priority: protecting the integrity of our games for the fans…”

MLB Commissioner Rob Manfred

Players Suspended By MLB For Sports Betting

  • Tucupita Marcano (San Diego Padres Infielder/Outfielder) – Permanently Ineligible List
  • Michael Kelly (Oakland Athletics Pitcher) – One-Year Suspension
  • Jay Groome (Padres* left-handed Pitcher) – One-Year Suspension
  • José Rodríguez (Philadelphia Phillies* Infielder) – One-Year Suspension
  • Andrew Saalfrank (Arizona Diamondbacks* Pitcher) – One-Year Suspension

*Minor League Players

Padres infielder Tucupita Marcano allegedly placed nearly 400 bets on MLB games dating back to October 2022. The wagers totaled over $150,000. Twenty-five of those wagers were placed on the Pittsburgh Pirates while he was on their roster.

The temptation is everpresent, given the expansion of domestic sportsbooks to nearly every US state and the adoption of sports betting by every major league organization.

Gambling is addictive, and the thought of earning a heap of cash on a correct assumption is often enough to cause most Americans to place a wager.

Making your way onto an MLB roster takes years of hard work and loads of talent. Gaining a competitive edge by any means necessary is part of the game of baseball and becomes a part of each player’s makeup.

This spirit of one-upmanship expands to off-the-field activities. The salary gap between teammates is often gargantuan, but that doesn’t stop lower-paid players from trying to keep up with the top dogs.

One way to even the score is to quickly double or triple your money by betting on a game that you have insight into. Who’s gonna know, right?

The league was informed about these unusual betting activities by domestic sportsbook operators. No further detail was provided, but a recent NBA betting scandal was unearthed due to repeated high-dollar wagers on player props or other in-game occurrences.

Unfortunately, this won’t be the last time we hear about gambling scandals in pro and college athletics, but these early examples could serve as a cautionary tale for future players.

ESPN, MLB’s Official Website

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