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Getting death threats from aggrieved gamblers, MLB players starting to fear for their safety

Editor's note: The following story contains graphic threats of violence.

PHOENIX 鈥 They receive death threats.

They are followed home by strangers.

They are abused and derided.

They are Major League Baseball players, who can tell you all about the menacing threats that have been inflicted upon their lives since MLB and gambling companies got into bed together.

Follow every MLB game: for sending a string of social media messages to four players on the Tampa Bay Rays and one player on the White Sox after a 2019 game the Rays lost.

Here鈥檚 a sampling of the horrifying messages to one Rays player:

  • "I will sever your neck open you pathetic (expletive)."
  • "I will enter your home while you sleep, and sever your neck open."
  • "I will kill your entire family."
  • "Everyone you love will soon cease."
  • "I will cut up your family."
  • "Dismember them alive.鈥

Patz also sent threats to players on Atlanta, San Diego, Oakland, Cleveland, Baltimore, Kansas City and Toronto.

So what was Patz鈥檚 punishment when he plead guilty?

Three years of probation and six months of home confinement. Not a single day of jail time.

The odds of Patz鈥檚 deviant behavior being just an isolated incident is the same as believing there are no other players who gamble on baseball; no club employees are routinely providing lineup and health information to gamblers; and that Ippei Mizuhara, Shohei Ohtani鈥檚 interpreter, made 19,000 bets without telling a soul.

Still, despite the inherent danger, not only to players but to the potential integrity of the game, Major League Baseball endlessly promotes gambling websites.

"You cannot watch one set of commercials between innings without a gambling commercial," Sewald said. "FanDuel. DraftKings. MGM. Caesars. We鈥檙e promoting the hell out of this, and then to say, 'Oh, I don鈥檛 know what guys are gambling'?"

When MLB banned San Diego's Tucupita Marcano for life this past week after betting on baseball while playing for the Pittsburgh Pirates, and suspended four other players for one year, it was to serve as a warning for other players as a reminder that it鈥檚 illegal to bet on baseball.

"It鈥檚 tough because it鈥檚 such a fine line," Sewald said. "The more people that bet on our sport, the more people are watching. The more people watch, the richer we all get, right?

"But it鈥檚 such a slippery slope because it鈥檚 an addiction that people cannot stop. People get aggressive in this mode. We鈥檙e talking about real money, and they鈥檙e gambling with money that they don鈥檛 have.

"And it鈥檚 never been easier to gamble. Everyone can do it in their phone. This isn鈥檛 like illegal bookie stuff or sketchy stuff. Anyone can do it as easily as they want."

It鈥檚 too late to stop baseball鈥檚 affair with gambling. Gambling is far too lucrative to owners to halt all of the promotions, sponsorships and advertisements from gambling sites.

Yet, unless the promotions and advertisements start to at least be curtailed from their own network and games, until fans鈥 harassment, threats and intimidation stop, don鈥檛 be surprised if gambling scandals become as much a fabric in baseball as pine tar.

MLB will soon implement an automatic strike zone, likely in 2026, sparing the umpires of all of the vitriol they receive. If you鈥檙e an umpire, do you really want the threats that await if you happen to miss a pitch in late innings?

"When that happens, you watch," Allen says, "it will be a huge thing where people will start betting on automatic strikes. If they do the challenge system, there will be an over-under on how many times somebody challenges the ball and strikes in a game. How many are overturned? How many are wrong. They鈥檒l start having (betting) lines for that, you just watch."

Yes, so don鈥檛 forget to stop by the Caesars Sportsbook when you walk through the gates of Chase Field to catch the Diamondbacks. Who needs to sit in the Wrigley Field bleachers when you can hang outside the ballpark at the DraftKings Sportsbook? Why brave the elements watching your first-place Cleveland Guardians when you can plop inside at the Fanatics Sportsbook at Progressive Field?

Oh, and if you鈥檙e a baseball player, please adhere to Rule 21, prohibiting you from gambling on baseball, but if you want to share some inside information with your gambling friends, hey, just don鈥檛 get caught.

The genie is out of the gambling bottle, death threats, corruption and consequences be damned.

Besides, who needs integrity when there鈥檚 a revenue stream pouring oceans of gambling money into the game with everyone getting rich, right?

Around the basepaths

鈮 The Chicago White Sox have no immediate plans to dismiss manager Pedro Grifol, refusing to solely blame him for being baseball鈥檚 worst team.

The White Sox believe it would make no sense to bring in and pay another manager when the team鈥檚 fate isn鈥檛 going to change no matter who鈥檚 in the dugout. Grifol is in the second year of a three-year contract for about $3 million. The White Sox are expected to re-assess this winter to determine whether a managerial change is needed.

鈮 The White Sox are listening to offers on anybody and everybody, including center fielder Luis Robert, who鈥檚 under contract through 2027, and owed about $61 million if his two club options are picked up. The White Sox would command a package greater than what the Padres gave up for Juan Soto at the 2022 deadline.

It鈥檚 unlikely they will trade ace Garrett Crochet (6-5, 3.33 ERA), who鈥檚 earning only $800,000 this season and won鈥檛 be a free agent until after 2026.

It鈥檚 also a longshot any contender would overwhelm the White Sox with a package of prospects knowing that he may be on an innings limit with his injury history. The White Sox are closely monitoring his workload after converting him from a reliever to a starter. His availability may be limited in the second half, and it鈥檚 questionable whether he would even pitch in September or October.

Crochet, 24, who missed the entire 2022 season with Tommy John surgery, has already pitched more innings this season (75 鈪 innings) than his career combined total (73 innings) in his previous three seasons.

鈮 The trade deadline could be quite dull if this mediocrity continues and teams don鈥檛 start winning.

There are only four teams in the National League who even have a winning record, and there are only five teams who are more than 4 陆 games out of a wild-card spot: the White Sox, Angels, Athletics, Rockies and Marlins.

There also have been 15 teams since 2001, including seven since 2016, who have gone from 10 games below .500 during the season to 10 games above .500. The Washington Nationals were 19-31 after 50 games and won the 2019 World Series.

It could be a seller鈥檚 paradise with so many teams in the race.

鈮 Rival executives believe that if the Toronto Blue Jays don鈥檛 turn it around, and are unable to sign Vladimir Guerrero Jr. and Bo Bichette to extensions, they will be open to moving them.

The Chicago Cubs have privately discussed the possibility of trying to acquire Guerrero at the trade deadline.

鈮 Juan Soto is having a much stronger season than he did with the San Diego Padres, several players say, because of the way Yankees center fielder 91影视 Judge has embraced Soto.

"You can tell the difference," one Padre veteran said. "He鈥檚 so much happier than he was here. You can tell he was just never comfortable. Now he is. He鈥檚 a different guy."

Certainly, the stats prove it:

Soto is hitting .318 with a 1.027 OPS playing for the Yankees compared to .248 with a .877 OPS with the Padres after the first 61 games of the season, including nearly twice as many homers and RBI.

鈮 The Philadelphia Phillies are keeping an eye on Diamondbacks left-handed hitting outfielder Jake McCarthy if the D-backs decide to make him available at the trade deadline.

鈮 The 91影视 Rockies have already blown five games in the ninth inning or later while entering the ninth with at least a five-run lead, the most in a single season in the modern era, according to Codify Baseball.

鈮 If the Kansas City Royals鈥 future wasn鈥檛 bright enough, veteran scouts who have followed their rookie ball and Class A teams say they have seven players who are prized MLB prospects.

鈮 While Mets first baseman Pete Alonso is expected to seek at least $200 million in the free-agent market this winter, teams seeking first basemen can instead turn to Paul Goldschmidt, Rhys Hoskins and Christian Walker, all who are eligible for free agency.

鈮 The Padres have never been happier paying bonuses to a player than Jurickson Profar, who was signed to a one-year, $1 million contract. He鈥檚 earning bonuses for plate appearances that could max out at a total of $2.5 million.

He鈥檚 the best bargain in baseball and the Padres鈥 best player.

He鈥檚 hitting .322 with a major-league leading .419 on-base percentage and a .910 OPS.

鈮 This is the year, rival executives say, that the Seattle Mariners make their boldest move at the trade deadline and acquire offensive help knowing they have a legitimate chance for the World Series with their star-studded starting rotation.

Their most aggressive move in recent years was acquiring ace Luis Castillo from the Cincinnati Reds at the 2022 trade deadline, going 35-24 the rest of the season and ending their 21-year playoff drought.

Mets first baseman Pete Alonso may be the perfect fit.

鈮 While teams like the Yankees would love to get their hands on 91影视 third baseman Ryan McMahon, the Rockies have no plans to trade him. McMahon is beloved in the organization and is in the third year of a six-year, $70 million contract.

鈮 The Diamondbacks are willing to listen to offers for struggling third baseman Eugenio Suarez, who could soon lose his everyday job. Suarez has a $15 million club option the D-backs don鈥檛 intend to exercise.

鈮 Texas Rangers GM Chris Young鈥檚 contract expires after the season, but the Rangers are expected to reward him with a lucrative extension later this year.

鈮 So how has it worked out for starters Blake Snell and Jordan Montgomery, who missed spring training and signed two-year contracts with opt-outs in March?

Snell is on the injured list for the second time with an 0-3 record, 9.51 ERA, 1.944 WHIP, pitching just 23 鈪 innings this season. He has yet to pitch five innings in a start.

Montgomery has been healthy but is 3-4 with a 6.80 ERA and a 1.727 WHIP. He is averaging just 5.6 strikeouts per nine innings compared to his career 8.2-strikeout rate per nine innings.

鈮 While the Marlins are shopping virtually anyone and everyone, only reliever Tanner Scott appears to be definitely moved. They will have to eat a significant portion of first baseman Josh Bell鈥檚 $16.5 million contract in any trade.

鈮 91影视 Judge, Juan Soto and Giancarlo Stanton are are the first trio in Yankees franchise history to hit at least 15 homers through the team鈥檚 first 62 games.

鈮 Phillies All-Star Bryce Harper continues to lobby MLB officials to permit MLB players to participate in the 2028 Olympics, even though it would require shutting down the season for perhaps three weeks.

"There鈥檚 nothing more worldwide than the Olympics," Harper told reporters in London. "I watch the most random sports in the Olympics because it鈥檚 the Olympics, and that鈥檚 really cool. I love hockey. It鈥檚 one of my favorite sports to watch. To see (the NHL) take that three-week break and let those guys go play, that鈥檚 another big goal that we should have as Major League Baseball.

"I鈥檝e talked to numerous people with MLB about it. I would love to be a part of that. We have the WBC, but it鈥檚 not the same. It鈥檚 not. The Olympics is something that you dream about playing in."

鈮 The Yankees continue to rave about the defense of left fielder Alex Verdugo after going through 16 left fielders the past two seasons.

"He鈥檚 been one of the best outfielders I鈥檝e ever played with," Judge told reporters. "It doesn鈥檛 matter if he鈥檚 feeling 100% or not, or if he got a hit or didn鈥檛 get a hit. He鈥檚 out there with that same mentality: 鈥業鈥檝e got to go out and make a play.鈥"

鈮 That was a brutal mistake by the Marlins signing outfielder Avisail Garcia to a 4-year, $53 million contract in 2021, and now designating him for assignment and eating the remaining $24.6 million left in his deal.

Garcia had a .217/.260/.322 slash line with 13 homers in 153 games as their second-highest paid player.

He produced a .262/.330/.490 slash line with a career-high 29 homers in 2021 with the Brewers.

鈮 Chris Sale was on the injured list eight times with the Boston Red Sox, including at least once every season since 2018.

Now that he鈥檚 with Atlanta, he has been their workhorse, going at least seven innings in seven of his 12 starts, while striking out at least eight in six of the starts.

鈮 Would anyone blame Dodgers starter Tyler Glasnow for suing the Dodgers for lack of run support?

In Glasnow鈥檚 last five starts, he has yielded a 3.33 ERA, striking out 41 batters in 30 innings.

The Dodgers did not score a single run while he was in the game.

鈮 While the Phillies and New York Mets played in London over the weekend, the third year MLB games have been played across the pond, next year MLB will host a weekend series in Paris.

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