Peter Gammons reports that, per MLB’s gambling deal with MGM Resorts International, each team’s lineup will first have to go to the commissioner’s office rather than the team’s own public relations office or to the media. MLB and MGM announced a partnership back in November. This development is presumably so MGM can set lines before everyone else gets access to the lineups. In the past, lineups have typically been posted a few hours before game time and sent out on social media by beat writers and/or the team.
According to Hank Schulman of the San Francisco Chronicle, lineups must be submitted to MLB for review at least 15 minutes before being released to the press and public. The league is citing integrity as the reasoning for that. In a statement, the league said, “We are updating a number of our procedures to reduce integrity risks associated with the expansion of sports betting in light of the Supreme Court’s ruling last May. One new procedure is that we now ask clubs to submit starting lineups in a uniform fashion in order to reduce the risk of confidential information being ‘tipped.'”
Gammons quoted an unnamed manager who said about the new lineup rule, “I’m really bothered by this.” As he should be. As should the other 29 managers across the league.
As with everything, this is mostly about money. Vegas will have first crack at lineup information, running their numbers — which takes hardly any time — in order to create lines that have the highest likelihood of generating them the most profit. I don’t believe the league is being disingenuous about integrity, but I do think it’s secondary to keeping their new business partner happy. This is yet another way in which the on-field product is being diminished. The league and its individual teams have diversified their revenue streams enough that the actual on-field product doesn’t have nearly as much importance as it did even just a decade ago. Money is being generated from alternative avenues like real estate, digital media, and now gambling.