Players Association releases a statement laying claim to gambling revenue

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We’ve talked a great deal about Major League Baseball’s newfound interest in sports gambling. To bring you up to speed in case you forgot, sports gambling is illegal in every state except Nevada, but a case was argued in front of the Supreme Court late last year that will likely overturn that law, opening the door for legalized sports gambling everywhere. In anticipation of that decision, which could come any day now, a lot of states are drafting laws to implement and regulate sports gambling so that they can be ready to go soon as it’s legalized.

While sports leagues, including Major League Baseball, had long been on record opposing legalized sports betting, they’ve recently changed their tune because (a) it seems inevitable that we’ll have sports betting soon; and (b) if we’re gonna have it, they want to make money off of it too. To that end, MLB and the other leagues are pressuring states to get a cut of the proceeds. I discussed all of the ins-and-outs of that here last month.

Today the sports unions, including the Major League Baseball Players Association, released a statement in which they made it clear that, if the leagues are going to get in on the gambling gravy train, so too should the players:

It’s not all about wanting a cut, of course. Those comments about the “costs” are legitimate, I think. Players’ medical records and other stuff is going to become part of the vested financial interests of a lot more people than they currently are once gambling is legalized, for example. Make no mistake, however, this is mostly about claiming a cut of whatever the leagues are able to claim from gambling proceeds wherever it’s legalized.

As I argued last month, I’m skeptical of any claim by the sports leagues on state gambling revenue. It seems like a shakedown to me, and the fact that Rob Manfred and the other commissioners are using super disingenuous arguments in order to stake their claim should set off your b.s. alarm.

That said, if the leagues are going to realize gambling revenue — and it sure seems like they are, thanks to their high-powered lobbying operation — it stands to reason that the players should get some of it too. That money is 100% a function of their athletic exploits and there is no coherent argument Rob Manfred or the 30 owners can make that entitles them to it that does not also justify sharing it with the players.

Either way, the unions are smart to stake a claim here. The last time there was a novel revenue stream of substantial size in baseball was when the owners got together and created MLBAM, baseball’s internet operation. At the time, it was 100% a function of baseball, with ballplayers’ highlights and statistics forming the foundation and proof-of-concept for what became a multi-billion dollar business the owners just sold to Disney. The players missed out on that because they did not negotiate a stake in it at the bargaining table in 2002 or beyond, when they could’ve. Once it grew beyond baseball to include all manner of other entertainment and video products, the ship had sailed.

They appear to be unwilling to make the same mistake again. That’s smart. Now let’s see if they can get that cut they want.


Anthony Volpe, 21, wins Yankees’ starting shortstop job

Dave Nelson-USA TODAY Sp

TAMPA, Fla. — Anthony Volpe grew up watching Derek Jeter star at shortstop for the New York Yankees.

Now, the 21-year-old is getting the chance to be the Yankees’ Opening Day shortstop against the San Francisco Giants.

The team announced after a 6-2 win over Toronto in spring training that Volpe had won the spot. New York manager Aaron Boone called the kid into his office to deliver the news.

“My heart was beating pretty hard,” said Volpe, rated one of baseball’s best prospects. “Incredible. I’m just so excited. It’s hard for me to even put into words.”

Yankees general manager Brian Cashman, hitting coach Dillon Lawson and bench coach Carlos Mendoza were also present.

Volpe was able to share the news with his parents and other family members near the Yankees’ dugout and said it is something he will never forget.

“It was pretty emotional,” Volpe said. “It was just an unbelievable moment to share with them.”

Volpe, who grew up a Yankees fan, lived in Manhattan as a child before moving to New Jersey. Jeter was his favorite player.

“It’s very surreal,” Volpe said. “I’ve only ever been to games at Yankee Stadium and for the most part only watched him play there.”

Volpe is hitting .314 with three homers, five RBIs and a .417 on-base percentage in 17 Grapefruit League games. He has just 22 games of experience at Triple-A.

Spring training started with Volpe, Oswald Peraza and holdover Isiah Kiner-Falefa competing for the everyday shortstop job. Kiner-Falefa was shifted into a utility role midway through camp, and Peraza was optioned to Triple-A Scranton/Wilkes-Barre.

“While certainly the performance was there, he killed it between the lines,” Boone said of Volpe. “All the other things that we’ve been hearing about showed up. There’s an energy he plays the game with, and an instinct that he has that is evident. He really checked every box that we could have had for him. Absolutely kicked the door in and earned his opportunity.”

Volpe arrived in Florida in December to work out at the Yankees’ minor league complex.

“He’s earned the right to take that spot, and we’re excited for him and excited for us,” Cashman said. “He just dominated all sides of the ball during February and March, and that bodes well obviously for him as we move forward.”

Volpe was selected out of high school with the 30th overall pick in the 2019 draft from Delbarton School in New Jersey. He passed up a college commitment to Vanderbilt to sign with the Yankees.

“It was a once-in-a-lifetime chance to get into the organization,” Volpe said. “This day, this feeling, this moment was kind of what I’ve worked my whole life for when I made that big decision.”

“Right now it’s crazy,” he added. “I don’t even know what lies ahead but Thursday I just want to go out and play, and have fun.”