In August 2011, Alex Rodriguez was called on the carpet by Major League Baseball for allegedly being involved in “an underground, illegal poker game where cocaine was openly used,” to quote the tabloid reports at the time. He met with the league and nothing happened apart from him promising not to hang out at underground, illegal poker games where cocaine is openly used anymore. Which seems sorta reasonable.
Here’s hoping he kept his promise, because that underground, illegal poker ring got busted yesterday, according to the Daily News. And this one has Russian gangsters in it!
An ultraexclusive, high-stakes, illegal poker ring run by Russian gangsters for Wall Street multimillionaires and celebrities like Alex Rodriguez folded on Tuesday, authorities said.
Federal agents arrested about 30 people and brought charges against 34 in total, including underground poker den operators previously linked to the Yankees slugger and other A-listers.
Look, A-Rod said he quit doing that back in 2011, so to sully his name here is just unfair. It’s in the past! What next? Are people gonna say he never quit taking PEDs before 2009 when he said he did? Are we no longer to take him at his word?
Hmm. Um, wait. Let’s just forget I said that.
(hat tip to The Big Lead)
Veteran utilityman Reid Brignac is in camp with the Astros on a minor league deal. The 31-year-old is close to being done as a major leaguer as he owns a career .219/.264/.309 triple-slash line across parts of nine seasons. In an effort to prolong his big league career, Brignac is now attempting to become a switch-hitter, MLB.com’s Brian McTaggart reports.
I’m going to try it out this year. It was something that I just thought long and hard about and I was like, ‘OK, I’m going to try and see how it goes.’ I used to switch-hit when I was younger off and on, nothing consistent. I could always handle the bat right-handed. I play golf right-handed, so I do a lot of things that way that feel natural.
I just want to get to the point where I’m trying to stay in games, not get pinch-hit for, not starting games because a lefty is starting. … That could help me stay in the games longer. I’m trying to add a new element. I play multiple positions and now if I can switch hit and be consistent at it, then that can only help me.
As Brignac mentions, he’s also verstile. He’s a shortstop by trade, but has also logged plenty of innings at second base and third base, and has occasionally played corner outfield.
There aren’t any examples — at least that I can think of — where players began switch-hitting late in their careers and actually succeeding in the major leagues. As the saying goes, you can’t teach an old dog new tricks. But here’s hoping Brignac bucks the trend.
Angels shortstop Andrelton Simmons fell off the map a bit last year due to a combination of the Angels’ mediocrity, Simmons’ lack of offense, and a month-plus of missed action due to a torn ligament in his left thumb.
Simmons is still as good and as smart as ever on defense. That was on full display Monday when the Angels hosted the Padres for an afternoon spring exhibition.
With a runner on first base and nobody out in the top of the second inning, Carlos Asuaje grounded a 2-0 J.C. Ramirez fastball to right field. The runner, Hunter Renfroe, advanced to third base. Meanwhile, Asuaje wandered a little too far off the first base bag. Simmons cut off the throw to first base, spun around and fired to Luis Valbuena at first base. Valbuena swiped the tag on Asuaje for the first out of the inning.