That stuff about Mets clubhouse manager Charlie Samuels is apparently worse than initially reported.
Yesterday the New York Times reported that Samuels’ suspension was due to a probe involving gambling on football. This morning the Daily News reports, however, that he is being investigated in connection with an organized gambling ring that took bets on baseball too. The investigation is looking into whether Samuels provided inside information to friends and relatives about the status of Mets players, among other things. It’s also investigating claims that Samuels used Mets bank accounts to float himself loans, skimmed money on hotel rooms he ordered for players as the team’s traveling secretary and stole and/or sold hundreds of bats, balls and jerseys from the Mets clubhouse. The Daily News reports that Samuels reported income to the IRS many, many times greater than his annual salary. So, hey, no tax beef! Smart planning, Charlie!
Best part of the story, though, is how the Daily News was able to shoehorn in a reference to its favorite bogeyman: “A source told The News that Samuels’ suspension was not tied to any performance-enhancing drug distribution or usage.” Oh, thank God. Because it would be way, way worse if he was doing that than merely breaking all kinds of federal laws, putting the Mets and their players at risk of getting ensnared in gambling nastiness and literally stealing from the team.
But either way, our man Samuels is in deep doodoo.
More important for our purposes, though, is that apparently Samuels has already told Major League Baseball that he gambled on baseball games. You have to assume that the league will now have to look into whether any players were involved as well.
The Rays started Sergio Romo on back-to-back days and if that sounds weird to you, you’re not alone. Romo, of course, was the star closer for the Giants for a while, helping them win the World Series in 2012 and ’14. He’s been a full-time reliever dating back to 2006, when he was at Single-A.
In an effort to prevent lefty Ryan Yarbrough from facing the righty-heavy top of the Angels’ lineup (Zack Cozart, Mike Trout, Justin Upton), Romo started Saturday’s game, pitching the first inning before giving way to Yarbrough in the second. Romo struck out the side, in fact. The Rays went on to win 5-3.
The Rays did it again on Sunday afternoon, starting Romo. This time, he got four outs before giving way to Matt Andriese. Romo walked two without giving up a hit while striking out three. The Angels managed to win 5-2 however.
Despite Sunday’s win, Cozart wasn’t a happy camper with the way the Rays used Romo. Via Fabian Ardaya of The Athletic, Cozart said, “It was weird … It’s bad for baseball, in my opinion … It’s spring training. That’s the best way to explain it.”
It’s difficult to see merit in Cozart’s argument. It’s not like the Rays were making excessive amounts of pitching changes; they used five on Saturday and four on Sunday. The games lasted three hours and three hours, 15 minutes, respectively. The average game time is exactly three hours so far this season. I’m having trouble wondering how else Cozart might mean the strategy is bad for baseball.
It seems like the real issue is that Cozart is afraid of the sport changing around him. The Rays, like most small market teams, have to find their edges in slight ways. The Rays aren’t doing this blindly; the strategy makes sense based on their opponents’ starting lineup. The idea of valuing on-base percentage was scoffed at. Shifting was scoffed at and now every team employs them to some degree. Who knows if starting a reliever for the first three or four outs will become a trend, but it’s shortsighted to write it off at first glance.