Tampa Bay Rays
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Gambler sent threatening messages to athletes, including Rays players

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Dan Sullivan of the Tampa Bay Times reports that a gambler, 23-year-old Benjamin Tucker Patz, sent hundreds of threatening messages to athletes, both professional and college, over Facebook and Instagram. Several of those players were on the Rays, identified in the criminal complaint by their initials: E.P., A.K., T.P., and C.R. We won’t bother deducing which players the initials are referring to, but it’s not a terribly difficult endeavor.

The messages included racial slurs, as well as threats to break into their homes to behead them and their families. The FBI investigated the threats.

A member of the White Sox, identified as A.C., and two other unnamed Rays players were on the receiving end of Patz’s vitriol. Sullivan notes that players on the Braves, Nationals, Royals, Indians, Orioles, Padres, Athletics, and Blue Jays received similar messages, as did members of the NFL’s New England Patriots. Patz sometimes sent threatening messages to the athletes’ family members.

In one message to T.P., Patz wrote, “Unfortunately 0-5 against the Chicago White Sox isn’t going to cut it. Because of your sins, I will have to behead you and your family.”

This is, sadly, a very real look into the private messages of professional athletes. Given the ever-increasing popularity of sports gambling and the ubiquity of social media, this seems like a problem that will only become bigger.

Japanese Baseball to begin June 19

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Japanese League commissioner Atsushi Saito announced that Japan’s professional baseball season will open on June 19. Teams can being practice games on June 2. There will be no fans. Indeed, the league has not yet even begun to seriously discuss a plan for fans to begin attending games, though that may happen eventually.

The season will begin three months after its originally scheduled opening day of March 20. It will be 120 games long. Teams in each six-team league — the Central League and Pacific League — will play 24 games against each league opponent. There will be no interleague play and no all-star game.

The announcement came in the wake of a national state of emergency being lifted for both Tokyo and the island of Hokkaido. The rest of the country emerged from the state of emergency earlier this month. This will allow the Japanese leagues to follow leagues in South Korea and Taiwan which have been playing for several weeks.

In the United States, Major League Baseball is hoping to resume spring training in mid June before launching a shortened regular season in early July. That plan is contingent on the league and the players’ union coming to an agreement on both financial arrangements and safety protocols for a 2020 season. Negotiations on both are ongoing. Major League Baseball will, reportedly, make a formal proposal about player compensation tomorrow.