The latest from the Legal Sports Report (LSR) saw Major League Baseball taking central place under the discussion spotlight.
Some controversy has been building around the sport, in particular that MLB is tampering with the ball. This would normally look less severe if it was to be publicly announced, but speculation is that it is being done in secret, which would be a major blow to the sport’s integrity and the public trust in it.
Host Adam Candee said: “As we discussed a few weeks ago, there is plenty of chatter about whether MLB is messing with the ball. It wasn’t flying as far early in the year. Now all of a sudden by May it’s flying somewhat normally again, and there’s a quote recently from Ian Kennedy, long time Major League pitcher, who said that ‘it’s obvious they’re not using the same ball.’
“He was talking about the fact how they started the year with what he believes is one ball, and he believes a second ball was introduced at some point during the year. We have an article up at LSR by Brad Allen, in which he talked to some sportsbook folks in Las Vegas, he talked to some baseball bettors, and the takeaway from all of it is that they are losing confidence in MLB.
“One particular handicapper said: “I myself am having a crisis of confidence in my own numbers because for the last two seasons I can’t trust what’s worked for me for a long time.””
Candee noted that all of this suggests that MLB “is not being on the up and up with everyone”, especially when it comes to the league’s 12 different sportsbook partners.
LSR co-host Matt Brown then made an analogy with football, where if going from stadium to stadium means playing with different balls, “the home field advantage would be so great in the fact that you got to play with your home football, as compared to a ‘road’ football essentially”.
Brown continued: “As sports leagues invite us to come in and sports bet, there has to be on their end as well at least a second level or a third level of thought here. They need to layer this down to where they start thinking about “as part of all of this what comes along is the consistency factor and what can we do to play a role in that.”
Fellow LSR analyst Dustin Gouker agreed with Brown, saying: “Absolutely, it’s not a one-way street where sportsbooks are beholden to you in terms of integrity. You’re taking on all of these partners, you should be working with them as well and be as transparent as possible. The leagues have for years told us that sportsbetting is the biggest risk to integrity. The call, however, is coming from inside the building when it comes to integrity.”
Making a retrospective dive into the sportsbetting landscape, Gouker pointed out that problems with the MLB have only been instigated by discussions about the ball.
He added: “We’ve had four years of legal sports betting. There hasn’t been a major issue, that we know of at least, that has affected MLB on the sports betting side. What has happened is that we have challenges with the ball, and it is just nonsense.
“I understand that getting the balls right is maybe not the easiest thing as Adam elucidated, but at least have some transparency about it. That’s a bare minimum, whether you’re a sportsbook or not, to trust in the integrity of the baseball product that’s going out there.”
The podcast concluded by mentioning the recent change in basketballs by the NBA, but also how it had remained open about it. Adam Candee acknowledged the initial complaints by players, and how everyone soon adapted to the situation.
“There’s plenty of evidence out there about how the game was affected,” Cadee said. “Well, when it comes to MLB, we have the evidence. In fact, no sport has better analytic information that can track what the ball is doing than this sport. We can see it, we have the evidence.
“Rob Manfred and company are out there saying that nothing’s changed. Well, something has changed. Just be straight with us so that we’re not the ones filling in the gaps.”