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.
With the Dodgers trying to make it back to the World Series for the second year in a row — and trying to win it for the first time in 30 years — it’s worth looking back at the last time they won it. More specifically, it’s worth looking back at the signature moment from the last time they won it. Which, really, was one of baseball’s all-time signature moments.
Yep, I’m talking about Kirk Gibson’s famous game-winning home run off of Dennis Eckersley of the Oakland Athletics in Game 1 of the 1988 World Series, which happened 30 years ago tonight.
All playoff magic for anyone too young to remember Bill Mazeroski’s homer in 1960 is measured against Gibson taking Dennis Eckersley downtown to turn a 4-3 deficit into a 5-4 win. Heck, even if you were around in 1960, it’s far less likely that you saw Mazeroski’s homer than it was for you to have seen Gibson’s. Nationally broadcast in prime time to a nation of millions who had not yet fragmented into viewers of hundreds of obscure cable channels and various forms of streaming entertainments, it was a moment that sent shockwaves through the world of sports.
For my part, I was fifteen years-old, sitting in my living room in Beckley, West Virginia watching it as it happened. Like most of the rest of the country, I was convinced that the Dodgers had no chance to beat the mighty Bash Brothers and the 104-win Oakland A’s. Especially given that the Dodgers’ leader, MVP-to-be Gibson, was hobbled and not starting. Even when he was called on to pinch hit, I had no faith that he’d be able to touch Eckersley, the best relief pitcher on the planet, let alone hit the ball with any kind of authority.
But, as Vin said when he called it, the Dodgers’ year was so improbable that, in hindsight, it made perfect sense for Gibson to have done the impossible: