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Alex Rodriguez: What punishment if gambling allegations are true? [Updated]

August 4, 2011 | 11:04 am

Alex Rodriguez
Alex Rodriguez is being investigated by Major League Baseball in connection with allegations of his involvement in high-stakes gambling, and writers from around Tribune Co. are discussing the controversial New York Yankees star. Check back throughout the day for more responses and weigh in with a comment of your own.

Kevin Baxter, Los Angeles Times

A-Rod's passion for high-stakes card games has long been an open secret in South Florida. But the latest reports, if true, suggest that he's upped the stakes. So although there's nothing wrong with a little poker game, if drugs and thugs are involved -- as Star magazine reported -- that's a different story.

It would be unfair to Rodriguez for anyone jump to conclusions before the investigation has run its course. But if the allegations are true and if baseball's best-paid player on its marquee franchise is hanging around with underworld figures, the integrity of the sport has been put at risk and a lengthy unpaid suspension may be warranted. Sure, that would break new ground -- and it could cost A-Rod his shot at Barry Bonds' all-time home-run record.

It will be a difficult call for the commissioner either way, and Rodriguez deserves a fair hearing.

But the sport demands a passionate defense as well.

Joseph Schwerdt, South Florida Sun-Sentinel

Baseball will have to punish Alex Rodriguez, not necessarily because he did anything wrong, but because he did something stupid. It would send an unsettling message to baseball fandom if it is determined that Rodriguez was involved in high-stakes poker games and no action is taken. Gambling is poison to baseball, and this is the second time Rodriguez has come under scrutiny for involvement in illegal games -– not a smart move on his part.

But there is a fine line here. There's a difference between backroom poker games and betting on baseball. There's a difference between gambling and being in debt to gamblers. Athletes should probably steer clear of casinos, racetracks and poker games while they are active. They'll have plenty of time and money for that when they retire. But if MLB is going to investigate every player who gambles, it may find itself looking at a very long list.

[Updated at 12:38 p.m.:

Peter Schmuck, Baltimore Sun

This may sound cynical, but if baseball basically let a generation of widespread steroid abuse damage the credibility and statistical history of the sport, it's hard to get too excited about reports that Alex Rodriguez plays poker with fellow multi-multi-multi millionaires Leonardo DiCaprio, Ben Affleck, Tobey Maguire and Matt Damon. Especially when so many stadiums -- including the home of Bud Selig's beloved Milwaukee Brewers -- now happily accept lottery and casino advertising.

It seems almost quaint that MLB would show concern about a private poker game at a time when the popularity of poker is through the roof. Of course, if the tabloid reports of cocaine use could be proven -- regardless of whether ARod took part -- that would certainly raise the stakes and warrant a significant suspension.]


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Photo: Alex Rodriguez. Credit: Sherry LaVars / MCT