100 years later, gambling still doesn’t look like a great bet for baseball

The White Sox laid an egg against the Kansas City Royals last night. A pitching matchup that looked advantageous on paper didn’t materialize on the field. Lucas Giolito gave up three homers over four innings, while Carlos Hernandez stymied the Sox for the second time in two weeks. The Royals won 9-1. It might not have been that close.

After the game, Tony La Russa sounded inclined to write off the performance.

“I think a guy goes out there 30-some times, you are going to have a game like that where you are just not right,” White Sox manager Tony La Russa said. “You are going to have several, just the way (it goes). You are a man, not a machine.

“You go out there as a starter all year long, and you are going to have games (like this). … Just a little bit like Carlos the other day in Kansas City. Early on they get you, and before you are right, it’s not your day.”

And there’s good reason. Giolito’s season has been a disappointment relative to preseason expectations where ZiPS projected him the best pitcher in baseball, but he entered the game with a 3.02 ERA over his previous 13 starts and remained on track for an above-average season despite the occasional jarring speed bump. He didn’t have a breaking ball worth respect, and a contact-oriented lineup landed jabs and haymakers. “It happens” is an unsatisfactory excuse, but it’s understandable.

The excuse appears to be even more unsatisfying when you have money on the game, and apparently Wednesday’s “upset” led to some responses that are beyond comprehension.

During the game, Ari Dubelko Giolito, Lucas Giolito’s wife, shared an exchange from her Instagram account.

After the game, Zack Collins, who was behind the plate for Giolito’s dud, alluded to even harsher messages.

This is not the first time the outcome of a recent White Sox game generated unhinged responses from the public, or at least the portion that had money riding on the proceedings. In June, a 24-year-old Californian was sentenced to probation after pleading guilty to issuing threats to one White Sox player and four Tampa Bay Rays after the Sox won a game at Tropicana Field in July 2019.

I’d say I’m baffled by the rise of casinos partnering with Major League Baseball and other professional sports, except the money is the kind that overrides objections. But I am confused about the ease that it’s been accepted, mostly because a childhood spent learning about White Sox history suggested that gambling was a poisonous influence on sports to be avoided at all costs.

* * * * * * * * *

With sublime timing, the Society for American Baseball Research this morning unveiled a review of the 1921 season as told through six stories. One of them centers on the trial of Black Sox, which turned 100 last week. Black Sox scandal expert Jacob Pomrenke used his Twitter account to relay daily accounts of the trial, which resulted in the acquittal of the eight White Sox players accused of throwing the 1919 World Series, but didn’t prevent Commissioner Kenesaw Mountain Landis from banishing them from Major League Baseball regardless.

The reasons people sympathize with the Eight Men Out are largely rooted in myth, or at least a lack of context. Charles Comiskey tried to avoid paying his players more than he had to, but the same could be said of every owner, because players possessed near-zero leverage. The White Sox might’ve been underpaid relative to their drawing power, but they were paid well relative to the rest of the league.

If there’s any reason to defend them, it’s that baseball turned a blind eye toward gambling for years, and even the Black Sox for a while. Pomrenke describes the setting:

Gambling in baseball was a hot-button issue in the early 20th century, just as it is now in the 21st century. Landis was hired by major-league owners with a mandate to clean up a corrupt game. Before the 1919 World Series scandal erupted, players and front-office executives were known to openly bet on their own teams (both for and against) and bettors were allowed to operate freely in major-league ballparks. Fans could attend a game at Wrigley Field in Chicago or Fenway Park in Boston and place a bet on the next pitch from their seat — a scenario that would not look out of place at a ballpark in 2021, given the growing world of legalized sports gambling.

My day-to-day recap of the 1917 White Sox’s championship season included a game at Fenway Park that was interrupted by gamblers who rioted in an attempt to prevent the game from becoming official. Such an embarrassing incident could have prompted a league-wide reassessment of its ties to gambling, but leadership instead kicked the can until gambling infected the integrity of a championship.

In another instance of impeccable timing, on the same day you can read Pomrenke noting that gambling at Wrigley Field would not look out of place in 2021, the Cubs are officially proposing plans for a two-story addition on their ballpark in order to house a sportsbook.

All the elements that led sports to distance themselves from gambling a century ago seem to be forming a storm that’ll lead to the exact same disasters. The NHL is currently investigating accusations that Evander Kane of the San Jose Sharks bet on hockey and compromised games for gambling purposes. Kane has denied the charges, but they have some heft because 1) they’re coming from his wife, and 2) Kane filed for bankruptcy earlier this year because of a gambling issue.

Whether he bet on his own sport or merely has an unrelated addiction, Kane earned $6 million in 2021 and has made nearly $56 million in his career according to CapFriendly. Theoretically, he shouldn’t be hard-up for cash the way Eddie Cicotte overextended himself with a $4,000 farm mortgage on an $8,000 salary. Yet here we are.

The comfort with which the leagues and media outlets have partnered with sportsbooks makes it hard to determine an appropriate level of alarm, because they were the bulwarks against gambling’s influence on sports until they suddenly weren’t. Who watches the watchmen now? If it’s up to individuals, here’s one noting that the elements baseball spent a century beating back seem to be all present, wondering if anybody took care of the “accounted for” part.

Once you’re done mulling over that question, check out the White Sox’s promotion of next Thursday’s Field of Dreams Game, in which they wear the uniforms made famous by … well, you know.

(Photo of the 1919 White Sox from the George Grantham Bain Collection / Library of Congress)

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Jim Margalus

Writing about the White Sox for a 16th season, first here, then at South Side Sox, and now here again. Let’s talk curling.

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If I didn’t laugh at our country I would have to cry. How in the hell does someone that sends messages saying they will “sever your neck open” and “kill your entire family” (and much worse things actually) get probation? So he didn’t do either, but that doesn’t mean the people receiving those messages weren’t affected by them or didn’t take them seriously. It makes it an even bigger joke when you see what people WILL be given jail time for, especially minorities. But I guess when you’re a white kid named Benjamin Tucker Patz nobody gives a shit.

I don’t like sports gambling. It takes the fun out of sports, and all the marketing is annoying as hell. It’s such a huge part of sports talk radio that I listen to it less and less these days. I just think it’s a sad situation all around.


I used to be disgusted. Now I try to be amused.

Right Size Wrong Shape

I made my kids listen to that album last week because the Sox had “Elvis Night”.


I hope your kids thanked you profusely.

Malgar 12

The picture of the “throwback uniforms” at the end of the piece perfectly encapsulates the problem. Those uniforms aren’t authentic or they wouldn’t have two contractually mandated, ugly (and historically inaccurate) commercials on them. The Nike swoosh on the jersey and the NE logo on the side of the cap are both aesthetic monstrosities, which exist because MLB’s overlords are dominated by a utilitarian mindset that cannot fathom any goods that are not for sale. Selling out to the casinos and turning a blind eye to the problems it creates is born of the exact same rotten ethic. We should expect more of the same before we expect any kind of reform.


You can add umpires now sponsored by a crypto exchange and decked out like NASCAR drivers.


Especially as umpires are supposed to the sports’ rule enforcers, surprised branding umpires hasn’t received more rebuke.

Last edited 10 months ago by metasox

The irony is that if the unis were clean and free of logos, they would probably sell more of them. And Nike would still make that money, so who would lose?


Ricketts sure is going to milk that golden goose for all its worth. I’m somewhat interested to see the dynamic between him and the Cubs fanbase over the next couple years. Cubs fans may pay dearly for their blind loyalty over the years.

Brett R. Bobysud

Stuff like what happened to Giolito and Collins is why I’ve been really uneasy with how much sports betting has been made into such a big deal the last few years.

I used to be involved in a fantasy football league several years ago, but after one of the guys in my league got so mad at a player who had a bad game costing him the league title, I pretty more swore off any fantasy sports.

The players’ job isn’t to win prospective bettors money. Their job is to win games for their team.

Unfortunately, I’m not all that surprised at this happening and think you’re only going to see more of it, particularly once they start putting sports books in the parks themselves.

The way certain people in the media (i.e. Ostrowski) have pushed sports betting so hard in recent years since it was made legal at the federal level just struck me as whipping up prospective gamblers so hard that they’re either gonna end up driving themselves into addiction and financial ruin, or taking it out on players when things don’t go their way.


That’s sad that happened with the fantasy football guy, but I am not surprised in the least. For me, cheering on my sports teams is fun. Add gambling, fantasy, and all this other crap, and it’s no longer fun; it actually even becomes complicated! My life is stressful and complicated enough as is, so for me that other crap has zero appeal.

Right Size Wrong Shape

I find the whole thing to be disgusting, and I think this entire country is heading for a major problem. In my little corner of the world (sports fan), it’s definitely had a negative impact on my enjoyment. Every ad on the radio is either for sports betting or ED meds, half of the shows are run by degenerates like Danny Parkins who apparently can’t enjoy watching sports if they don’t have some action on it, and watching sports shows on TV now feels like watching a stock market ticker board. And it’s not just sports, you can’t enter a gas station or see a strip mall that doesn’t have slots and video gaming. Someone close to me recently told me that she developed an addiction to video slots from playing in bars while her husband’s band was performing, and it got her into serious financial trouble. I’m sure she’s not alone. Sometimes negative stigmas exist for a reason.

Brett R. Bobysud

Ostrowski’s been far more egregious about it than Parkins has, imo. Dude was almost threatening Illinois politicians a while back to institute legalized sports betting after it was legalized at the federal level.

It’s why Laurence is really the only sports radio guy I still listen to. He’s related a similar story to mine about why he swore off fantasy for a while and he’s not really a gambler either.

Right Size Wrong Shape

You are right, but I think Ostrowski’s a national guy now and does an all gambling show. So I guess he’s not on my radar as much as Parkins, who’s gambling permeates a “regular show”. I don’t listen as much as I use to. I still like Laurence, and I like Matt Spiegal (unfortunately he’s with Parkins now). But make no mistake, all of these guys are seeing dollar signs with gambling. Just now Dan Bernstein was lamenting the “arcane” legal hurdles the Cubs will have to leap to build the largest sports book in the state. They all know where their bread is buttered.


I wonder if any of this will affect willingness of parents to expose their children to pro sports. Whether at the ballpark or on television, I would be less enthused to include kids with the constant promotion of gambling


My season ticket group is located in section 132, right behind home plate. For a number of years, Ozzie Guillen’s family sat in the row behind our seats. I would often chat with her. A very nice woman. One time she caught me rooting for a player on the visiting team. When I explained to her that he was on my fantasy team, she told me that playing fantasy baseball was a bad idea since it created conflicting loyalties.

The scouts also sit in the same section. At another game I asked a scout for a team if he could encourage the manager of that team to use a player at a certain position so he would qualify at that position in my fantasy league.I think he knew I was joking but perhaps not!

There is no doubt that we will have a gambling scandal in MLB and other sports. Then the question will be how the leagues respond.

Greg Nix

The Giolito stuff also reminds me of the way NBA players were getting stuff dumped on them by opposing fans during the playoffs. Many fans seem to view players through a prism that simultaneously elevates them and reduces their humanity. Like, “you should be perfect and also you should have to accept my abuse, because I’m a paying customer and you make a lot of money.” If you ask me, these are also the same kind of people who scream at airline employees and call it free speech. Depressing shit.

I don’t know what the solution is. People suck.

As Cirensica

Interesting read on the “Bullshit Jobs” article. I disagree with a few points, but I found it fascinating.


People have real internalized the wrong meaning of the “customer is always right” mantra. It means the customer gets the set the definition of what a “good” product is. It does not mean the customer is god-dictator over the sales person and can treat them however they want.


I think the solution is pushback in every form possible.

As Cirensica

That gambling situation is something I haven’t thought about it mostly because I don’t gamble and I stay away from gambling topics. Having said that, after reading this article where Jim’s aptly raised some concerns, I am bit worried on the direction baseball is heading. For some people, gambling is a business, but for me, it is a vice. Just like smoking is a vice. Or alcohol. So I fail to see a good connection here.

Last edited 10 months ago by As Cirensica

Haven’t followed the topic recently, but both players and umpires had previously expressed concern about gambling

“It scares me to death,’’ veteran umpire Joe West, president of the umpire’s union, told USA TODAY Sports. “I’m not worried about any of my guys doing anything (illegal), but I am worried about their security. People won’t have just a rooting interest in games, but now they’re gambling on them.


After hearing all the talk of Rose for so many years, was disappointed to see baseball so quickly embrace gambling.

As Cirensica

Yeah. like I said, I fail to see the connection between sports and the gambling industry. It is like a an athlete getting a sponsorship from a PED manufacturers or bringing bac the camel and marlboro cowboy guy billboards into sports venues.


You just got another patreon supporter due to this post. I mean…I’d been meaning to anyway, but it’s really rare and refreshing to see anyone point out the issues with sports gambling these days. I have to think part of that is major media being dependent on that revenue stream, and it would be great for Sox Machine to stay free of being sponsored by FanDuel or whatever.


Outstanding post. Jim.

It is Rob Manfred’s good fortune that it is Gary Bettman who has the onus of assessing whether a player threw games and corrupted the integrity of the game due to gambling debts. I have no faith that Manfred will use that good fortune to enact measures to prevent such a thing from happening in MLB.


This should be one thing the leagues and betting places should be on the same page. If people perceive the games as fixed, no one will want to bet on them or watch them.

Given that the number of gambling places is fairly limited (at least I think they are since they all need licenses), it shouldn’t be that difficult to coordinate to keep players, coaches and refs from even being able to place a bet.

Joliet Orange Sox

I’ve never really listened to sports talk radio. I’m old enough that it didn’t exists until after I was already living with the woman who is now my wife and well set in my NPR and WXRT ways. However, a few weeks ago I found myself and my then15-year-old son helping to clean out the garage of a elderly woman down the street (her husband passed recently and she’ll be selling). Her son (around 50) and grandsons (in their 20’s) put on WSCR while we worked. I was surprised by and uncomfortable with the content. There was almost no talk of sports but plenty of talk about gambling, misogynistic comments about actresses, sophomoric attempts at humor, and a discussion about what to drink while enjoying what type of cigar. I ended up asking for the station to be changed.

I’m not saying that WSCR shouldn’t exist (well the misogyny needs to go) but I was surprised what sports radio means.

Last edited 10 months ago by Joliet Orange Sox
Right Size Wrong Shape

I listened to it a lot around the time when I first got married (17 years ago), but I rarely listen to it now (and definitely not when my kids are around). They actually laugh at me because sometimes I turn it on and then immediately have to turn it off again because they are talking about doing drugs or something else untoward. I guess parents aren’t in their demographic.


Watching the Ricketts systematically destroy any sense of quirkiness or character to the architecture surrounding Wrigley has been its own kind of sad, even as a Sox fan.

“Let’s make it a box”


Like putting the Roman Coliseum in a shopping mall


Speaking of which, how long until Roman starts sponsoring the Oakland Coliseum?


For years I’ve been surprised no one has tried to kill an athlete for destroying his fantasy team. Given the meteoric rise of gambling in recent years coupled with the ongoing dissolution of civil society, it just seems inevitable.

I hope I’m wrong.

Shingos Cheeseburgers

Sports betting is 2021’s ‘pivot to video’ for media companies.


I’m kind of surprised at some of the comments on this article. Is it concerning how shameless major league sports are acting towards gambling? Yes. The amount of vitriol direct at sports gambling in general is a bit ridiculous to me though. Maybe I’m in the very small minority but I love playing fantasy football (for money) and I have no problem betting on sports the few times a year I’m in Vegas. It’s fun and gets me invested in games I wouldn’t otherwise care about. Attributing the worst aspects of a group (sports bettors) to the industry as a whole is just crazy though. I don’t see people getting upset at fast food commercials when people attack employees because Popeye’s doesn’t have any chicken sandwiches in stock. It can be argued that fast food is an even more insidious vice in this country than gambling. But gambling isn’t as ingrained in society as a whole so its a lot easier for people to demonize it by pointing to the worst offenders as representative of the entire group. People have never been able to control themselves, regardless of the topic of addiction so pardon me if I’m not all worked up in a lather because big businesses have decided to chase money for the billionth time in the last 20 years.


I don’t get the moral panic (oh no, my children heard a gambling commercial) but it is interesting to see how they erect guardrails especially as teams get more and more in bed with gambling. Also what will they do when a player inevitably gets caught.

But I do disagree on one point. People were already obnoxious towards athletes about wrecking their fantasy teams and there is barely anything riding on most people’s fantasy teams. Now that people are putting real money on games, it gets more personal and important to those people. This isn’t going to be a one off thing like Popeyes or whatever.


That was an oversight by Jim. He should have made clear his dislike for both sports gambling AND Popeye’s employees being attacked for running out of chicken sandwiches.


Reminds me of this


Shitty people are going to be shitty. Railing against MLB getting in bed with sportsbooks is kind of weird given how intertwined MLB has been with beer companies. This is not a “this isn’t bad because no one cares about this other thing that is also bad” conversation. The same rules apply to any conversation regarding drinking, gambling, or the inevitable saturation of dispensary sponsorships that are almost assuredly on the way: teach people how to consume a product without being shitty and make a world where the shitty actions are what is villified, not the object of consumption.


The game ceases to be functional as sport & entertainment when the validity of the outcome comes into question. Budweiser doesn’t have the same potential to call into question the validity of a game the same way gamblers can. This is more than a few shitty people being shitty (not that the shitty people aren’t a story too).


Maybe I’m just more pessimistic than you are but its 2021. Having the bookie in stadium doesn’t really matter. Players can be reached by people on the other side of the world as if they were standing next to each other. If players wanted to bet on their own games (or others), they don’t need a DraftKings Pavilion in Wrigley to do it. They just need a cell phone. The means have existed for sports to be perverted for a lot longer and legalizing gambling for the masses doesn’t really change reality for the millionaires and billionaires that already exist in sports. If you want to talk about the safety of players from shitty people, I think that is a concern but I will refer you back to my original thesis of “Shitty people are going to be shitty”.


I think the issue is even the appearance of a conflict of interest. If the Ricketts or Reinsdorf can make one more cent from their gambling relationship if the team loses a few games then you’ve crossed a line even if they never act unethically.

Gambling existing is not the issue. It’s tying the success of the two industries to one another that is an issue

As Cirensica

My concerns resides not in a unfair generalization. The fact I don’t like gambling does not mean I think gambling is always wrong. No. I know most gamblers have fun, and they have no problems with like many people enjoy a beer or two does not mean they have an alcohol problem. I gamble every now and then. I love horse racing, and once per year I go to the racetrack, and I bet in a few races. So I am not “free of the sin”.

My concern is that within the gambling world, there are elements that can affect negatively a sport…literally bringing that world to a baseball stadium raises some eyebrows.


Interesting article on Fangraphs about bullpen usage and effectiveness


Josh Nelson

I appreciate the article and comments regarding this topic. As someone who is active in both placing bets and daily fantasy sports, it helps listening/viewing/reading views from others who don’t feel comfortable with the exposure to sports gambling. It raises my awareness of those who may not enjoy something that I often comment on.


Personally I haven’t found the amount you discuss gambling here or on the podcast annoying. I am not a gambler but there are times where hearing about what’s going on in that space is interesting (for instance, if the Sox make a move and it dramatically affects the betting odds on them winning the World Series, I’d find that interesting as a data point on people’s perception of the team).

My opinion, as long as it’s relevant, I am fine with hearing about gambling and fantasy stuff. I just don’t find it interesting on its own merits.

Josh Nelson

I get how some people are annoyed with how much it’s part of the daily sports conversation. Pretty sure I could write 3,000 words about how and why sports media is the way it is today, but it really boils down to two items: Gambling revenue and Barstool.

There are aspects of sports betting coverage that I find fascinating. For example, DraftKings Sportsbook now lists Lance Lynn as the favorite to win the AL Cy Young with -150 odds. Shohei Ohtani is at -650 to win AL MVP.

For a non-sports gambler, they look at those odds and have no idea what they mean. I can tell you that sportsbooks think it’s not much of a race in the AL Cy Young or MVP awards. Even though it’s August 5, 2021, it’s looking like it’ll be Lance Lynn and Shohei Ohtani taking home the hardware. Not great news for my Carlos Rodon futures bet.

A non-sports bettor would say “Duh, look at the numbers. Why do we got to put odds on it?” And I get that point of view.

But in this multiverse timeline, money makes the world go ’round. If a fan who is heavily invested every day following a team or athlete can also make a buck off it, cool. I enjoy my $5/$10 bets that I make, but often get made fun of from others who don’t think I take sports gambling seriously. Maybe I don’t, because just like any vice, we should consume responsibly.

For MLB and the Chicago White Sox, in particular, I don’t think they are going to reverse course. Today, we make fun of the Chicago Cubs for building a new DraftKings Sportsbook outside of Wrigley. Tomorrow, we’ll start seeing FanDuel Kiosks at Guaranteed Rate Field. You might not be able to buy a hot dog or ice cream for the kids without standing in line for a couple of hours, but you’ll get your live bets in.

This topic is the ugly side of the Supreme Court reversing the New Jersey vs. NCAA decision. States are getting money. Cities are getting money. Media is getting money. Now the leagues are getting money. Soon, the Players Associations will be getting a cut. Everyone is making money. Especially in Illinois which the state is on pace for $6 BILLION in sports bets this year. City of Chicago has already made $2.4 million in tax revenue through April 2021. We all know how starved both the state and city are for revenue.

Everyone who is benefitting is asking those who are uncomfortable with gambling to swallow a bitter pill*.

*Pill sponsored by Roman


I actually came around to Chicago needing to build a casino by seeing the signs for the Horseshoe shuttle near Sox park. I realized that if people were willing to take a bus to Indiana with a bunch of strangers in order to gamble, we needed to try to keep that money in Chicago.


Replace the Macy’s in Water Tower Place with a casino. Department stores are dead


I don’t disagree with anything you said but I do think for a certain percentage of the population, the reason the Roman-sponsored pill is bitter is from some sense of moral superiority over those who would gamble. That makes a lot of these conversations a lot more difficult because it starts to touch on more than just facts and logic and starts attacking beliefs which is always dangerous.

Joliet Orange Sox

The difference is that the fast food and pill commercials are not related to an industry that has almost destroyed the sport in the past.

I don’t feel morally superior about gambling. I’ve gambled on sports in my life. My now-deceased dad retired to Nevada and we would visit Las Vegas when I went out to see him. Winning $100 in 2004 on an Illini-Wake Forest basketball game is one of the fondest memories. I had told my dad that the Illini were a lock to win despite the fact that Wake Forest was favored for some reason (they had Chris Paul and were ranked #1). I had rarely seen my dad happier than as we watched the Illini blow out Wake Forest surrounded by strangers in a Vegas sports book who had mocked our Illini garb before the game.

My earlier comments about WSCR were based on a very small sample of about 30 minutes. It is possible that it is often much more appropriate for children. I don’t think I’m a particularly overprotective parent. I don’t blink when my son sees the commercials during the Sox games on TV and I’m sure he hears plenty of stuff at school especially on the bus for sports (he has mentioned it). The bit of WSCR I heard was over the top. The other grown up (the 50-year-old) agreed immediately to change the station when I pointed out my son was 15 and agreed it was inappropriate. He had thought my son was older (my 15-year-old does look a bit older as he has a full beard and can bench well over 300 pounds). Again, WSCR may not always be inappropriate for teens but it was during those 30 minutes. The host was unclear on the fact that women are people.

Shingos Cheeseburgers

I like gambling but I hate gambling culture and the discourse around it. Vegas bros are the worst and fantasy sports and particularly sports gambling has broadened and normalized that type of behavior.

Josh, I would absolutely read those 3K words whenever you write them.


I’ve been impressed with Isbell ever since the Drive-By Truckers played a friend’s living room c. 1999 with their new teen guitar prodigy (who immediately became the strongest singer and player in the band). Hell of a musician and a thoughtful guy.

To Err is Herrmann

Ozzie Guillen’s wife may have a point. I recently found myself hoping Detroit’s Akil Baddoo would get a (meaningless) hit against the Sox so I could have some hope of tying a (meaningless) fantasy baseball series with my friend and co-worker across town. (Of course, I caught myself and tossed the thought out of my mind! But still!) Re: 1919, my wife teaches Philosophy and poses the (apocryphal?) example of Shoeless Joe Jackson silently staring at his newspaper as Chick Gandil placed the $5,000 on his dresser in her 200-level Ethics class. The students overwhelmingly deem Joe’s complicit silence unethical. Kids today.


That’s similar to the problem I had with fantasy. Your interests are all over the place and conflicting. It’s also worse because you don’t share those interests with anyone (unless they have a similar fantasy roster).

Most of my family are much more casual of Sox fans than me but they are a tiny bit invested so talking about the Sox is a total bore. No one I know cares if Bo Bichette and Yan Gomes both hit homeruns today.

To Err is Herrmann

My wife tolerates a one-minute recap of my fantasy team, the West Duluth C.H. Lukes, about once every 2 weeks. Otherwise, if I unconsciously bring it up in any conversation anywhere, I might as well be talking about my invisible rabbit friend Harvey. (Btw, Akil Baddoo did go on a helpful tear in July and I was able to make a surprise comeback against the Ja’Keddy Bros Road Team. For more details, send a self-addressed stamped envelope to Conversation Enders, P.O. Box 4400, Chicago, Illinois 60618.)

To Err is Herrmann

Bo Bichette hit a home run today?! Wait, that could mean something!


One of the best articles you’ve written, Jim.

I hadn’t seen the hypocrisy laid out so cogently yet. The most galling thing to me is the now ever-present money lines on crawls and in sports graphics pre- and post-game. I object to using it as a lens to view the games. The productions have just assumed that this is information we wanted. It’s awful.


They also put the scores of Arizona Diamondbacks games in the crawls. The productions have just assumed that this is information we wanted. It’s awful.

As Cirensica

I have this sad imaginary that I frequently see in many racetracks nowadays. People going to a lounge with dozens of monitors, placing bets in their tables drinking beer, and then wait for the next race, and at the same time, fewer people go actually outside to actually watch the races live.

I have not idea how this betting rooms or whatever will work, but I can see some “fans” getting into it to bet and pay no mind whatsoever to the baseball experience…that is, be in the stands with other fans, soaking on the summer sun, beer in hand and seeing your baseball favorite players hitting a homer. And that thought is truly sad.


Unrelated to gambling (unless you want to use it to inform your bets), the entire Sox roster is a combined 5 for 6 with 4 RBI’s off Daniel Lynch, today’s KC starter. The only player to face him without getting a hit is Cesar Hernandez, who was an Indian when he committed that faux pas.


Jim, what a terrific piece today. Excellent, excellent job. I am completely disgusted about how gambling has been universally welcomed with open arms by the powers that be and shoved down our throats in every avenue possible. You are so right on the money on how ominous this all is. Trouble ahead for sure. I hope this issue gets as much awareness and pushback as possible.


I was 7 years old in 1957. I became a WS fan by listening to the World Series. The 60’s ingrained pitching, defense and two hour games into my baseball DNA. I was almost full blown into an addictive cycle of gambling at age 15 becoming full blown when I added suicidal ideation at age 19. I spent four days in a hotel room oscillating between thoughts of suicide and finding money to keep gambling while my then wife was home with our first child who was two months old due to my sports betting. I am only one story. I am in recovery.

I have also worked in the substance use and gambling treatment arenas. You will find prevalence rates for gambling disorder ranging from 1%-3% for adults(120,000-360,000 in Illinois alone) and 4%-8% for youth. From my experience in mutual aid groups and in the treatment field my guess is that 1%-2% are getting help. The sadder part of those numbers is that each gambler affects on average eight others many times to devastating effect. As when ESPN decided poker was a sport we have been feeding the negative effects of gambling to too many innocent people. Fantasy sports and gaming have become gateway drugs. So, what to do. I do not agree with moral arguments against gambling as much as I disagree with government bodies trying to benefit from the losses (they call them revenues) from the people they are suppose to serve. I have yet to find a governing body who did an impact study before they legalized gambling. Illinois is doing a study of some kind at this time. Too late for my taste. There needs to be stronger regulation.

I can go on forever (I know I have already) but I do want to share with you one piece of data that I have yet to hear leading up to legalization. Earl L. Grinols was an economist in the Reagan administration. His work on the cost and benefits of gambling was that for every dollar of losses (revenues) there are three dollars of social costs. His data might be right or wrong. For an industry so based on numbers I do not see curious minds searching for such data to better understand the impact of legalized gambling. To me the social costs of drinking and gambling that drive baseball revenues will keep me away from the game except for my free cableppr and Sox Machine.

As this is might be my first and last post I want to add one aspect of drinking and gambling differences. I shudder to think how many children drive in a car leaving Sox Park whether the driver is legally impaired or just impaired. I wish the WS would be responsible pourers of beer. What you can’t see, or test for, in the “hidden disease” of gambling is the emotional state of the gambler. They too are impaired drivers. If the hockey player Jim mentioned was doing drugs or drinking he still might be bankrupt but there would have been many bumps on the way. I sent this and more to the White Sox over the last six months. I have not heard a word back. Thank you Jim for your wonderful writing. Thank you for bringing this topic to light. 1-800-Gambler is the Illinois Hotline for gamblers, family, and friends.

Greg Nix

Greatly appreciate you sharing this perspective!


You are welcome Jim. It seems like I am writing at the end of the thread though I would like to make a couple more points. I also want to clarify that I know that 1959 was the year I turned seven and I heard my first World Series. I was fortunate to have season tickets in 2005. I was able to share that year with my children and friends, some who were newfound in section 119. I had never thought of a wager during that wonderful year.

I want to stress that I have no fantasies about legalized gambling going away. I too have not listened to sports radio in years because of the casual, incessant talk about gambling. I do not remember reading anything about gambling on this site. I have not heard Josh speak about fantasy as I have not listened to many podcasts. I have read the site for many years.

I have no fantasy that the WS will change. It seems to be a fantasy that they will respond to my emails. What I ask of the WS, sports talk, and maybe this site, is to be both aware that you are part of a system that has destroyed lives and to have conversations about those possibilities.

Greg Nix

Who have you been trying to contact? Scott Reifert (former reporter, VP of Communications) or Brooks Boyer (SVP of Marketing) might be useful people to contact. I believe their respective emails are sreifert@chisox.com and bboyer@chisox.com, though someone else can feel free to correct me.

As Cirensica

I read you loud and clear Brian. Thanks.


Thank you Greg