Sports

MLB bans Padres infielder Tucupita Marcano for life for betting on baseball

One other big leaguer, Oakland Athletics pitcher Michael Kelly, was declared ineligible for one year for betting.
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Posted at 10:39 AM, Jun 04, 2024

Major League Baseball permanently banned San Diego Padres infielder Tucupita Marcano on Tuesday for betting on baseball and suspended four other players for one year after finding the players placed unrelated bets with a legal sportsbook.

Marcano appears to be the first active major leaguer banned under the sport's gambling provision since New York Giants outfielder Jimmy O'Connell in 1924.

Pete Rose, baseball's active career hits leader, famously agreed to a lifetime ban in 1989 after an investigation concluded he bet on Cincinnati Reds games while managing the team. Rose had retired from playing three years prior.

One other big leaguer, Oakland Athletics pitcher Michael Kelly, was declared ineligible for one year on Tuesday for betting on baseball while he was in the minor leagues. Additionally, minor leaguers Jay Groome of San Diego, José Rodríguez of Philadelphia and Andrew Saalfrank of Arizona were banned for one year for betting on major league games.

A bronze statue of Negro Leagues baseball legend Josh Gibson in Legacy Square when it was unveiled at PNC Park, the home of Major League Baseball's Pittsburgh Pirates.

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The league said it was tipped off about the betting activity by a legal sports betting operator. None of the players punished played in any games on which they wagered, and all players denied to MLB they had inside information relevant to their bets or the games they bet on — testimonies that MLB says align with the data received from the sportsbook.

“The strict enforcement of Major League Baseball’s rules and policies governing gambling conduct is a critical component of upholding our most important priority: protecting the integrity of our games for the fans,” Baseball Commissioner Rob Manfred said in a statement. “The longstanding prohibition against betting on Major League Baseball games by those in the sport has been a bedrock principle for over a century. We have been clear that the privilege of playing in baseball comes with a responsibility to refrain from engaging in certain types of behavior that are legal for other people."

Marcano was found to have placed 387 baseball bets, including 231 MLB-related wagers, between Oct. 16, 2022, and Nov. 1, 2023, totaling over $150,000. The league says 25 of those bets included wagers on Pittsburgh Pirates games while he was on the team’s major league roster. However, he did not appear in any of those games because he was on the injured list following a season-ending knee injury. He was receiving medical treatment at PNC Park during that time. Marcano bet almost exclusively on the outcomes of games and lost all of his parlay bets involving the Pirates, winning just 4.3% of all of his MLB-related bets.

Some team officials have begun giving comments on the league's suspensions. Arizona Diamondbacks manager Torey Lovullo spoke with Scripps News Phoenix about the suspension of Diamondbacks pitcher Andrew Saalfrank.

“He made a bad decision. The rules are very clearly outlined. They’re told to the players several times during spring training,” Lovullo said. "The reason is simple; we have to protect the integrity of this game. Andrew knew that. He understood that. And he made a really bad decision."

Lovullo said members of the organization have talked to Saalfrank and will continue to encourage him, and that the team will see him again. Lovullo also said he’s glad to see that the system works to catch players betting, and hopes it encourages anyone to think twice before making a bad decision.

Major League Rule 21, posted in every clubhouse, states betting on any baseball game in which a player, umpire, league official or team employee has no duty to perform results in a one-year suspension. Betting on a game in which the person has a duty to perform results in a lifetime ban.