According to a statement from Major League Baseball today, star, Yankee baseball player, Alex Rodriguez is being investigated for playing in a high stakes underground poker game in, Los Angeles in November of 2009.
Alex Rodriguez, is recognized as one of the greatest baseball players of all time. He is the youngest player to ever hit 600 home runs, with 626 total in his careers. He also has over 2,700 hits in his career. A-Rod is a 14 time all-star, two time Golden Glove winner, and the 2009 World Series Champion.
This 2009 home game, under investigation by the MLB, is the same Hollywood home game which, FlopTurnRiver, reported on last month. Running at various locations across LA, including the mansion of an uber rich record executive, the game featured sports stars and A-list celebrities including Tobey Maguire, Leonardo DiCaprio, Ben Affleck and Matt Damon. This underground poker game recently drew the ire of the media when it was discovered that convicted Ponzi schemer Brad Ruderman had lost a significant amount of funds in the game to various celebrities.
In the state of California, home poker games are legal as long as the house doesn’t collect rake. As of now, it remains unknown whether or not the house took a rake in this home game. And even if it is found that rake was collected, no one has ever been prosecuted in California, for even a misdemeanor, for being a player in such a game. Only the house can typically be held accountable.
The one thing working against Alex Rodriguez is that as an MLB baseball player his contract can have very certain stipulations determining his behaviour off the field. The concern for the MLB and commissioner Bud Selig is that one of their players could become indebted to an illegal bookie for large sums of money and then be pressured to throw a game as repayment.
Critics of the MLB’s crackdown on A-Rod’s poker hobby point to the fact that Alex Rodriguez is the highest paid players in the league, making $32 Million this season alone, a full $6 more than the second highest player Vernon Wells. Alex Rodriguez is also the recipient of one of the largest contracts in sports history, a whopping $275 Million for ten-years. So surely the idea that he could lose enough at the poker table to throw games is far fetched. The league however has, at least for the time being, put on a scolding air due to the fact that their player policy must treat all players equally, including those at the bottom of the pay scale.
Furthermore, in 2005 the MLB warned A-Rod about playing in high stakes private poker games. When questioned about the underground poker game, A-Rod stated that he did not attend. If he’s found out to have been there after all, it may be considered a breach of player conduct and could result in suspension. The game allegedly attended by A-Rod is rumored to have been laden with drugs as well as violence when one of the players refused to pay his debt.
Today, Alex Rodriguez is in Miami rehabilitating an injured knee. He is expected to be back in New York this week training with the Yankees. The most likely outcome for A-Rod is a slap on the wrist. After all, he’s just enjoying another popular American pasttime. An official word is expected from A-Rod or his manager Richard Rubenstein sometime soon.