He’s going through a little divorce with his Playboy model wife, who revealed that he’s been canoodling on the side. The New York tabloids are having a grand old time tracking down the 19-year-old bit of fluff with whom he’s taken some, er, “business trips,” printing pictures of babes and the ballplayer and breathless accounts of all the gory details.
Enough is enough, he declared last week, as if this is a terrible thing for a man to endure. He all but ordered the tabs to stop, which, he’ll find, is a lot like waving a red cape in front of a bull, only worse.
Meanwhile, The Daily News has reported, it’s possible that on at least two occasions, big guys with the dispositions of dyspeptic pit bulls and probably answering to names like Guido or Igor, have attempted to visit Mets catcher at ball parks for the purpose of collecting gambling debts.
That, it appears, he didn’t find unreasonable. Or, if he did, he at least he didn’t call a press conference to issue a cease and desist order to his bookies as he did to the Mets beat writers.
It would also appear that Lo Duca has trouble distinguishing an embarrassing annoyance from a real problem. Having your dirty laundry aired in public is embarrassing but does no real harm in the long run. Some day, he’ll be laughing about it. Running up big gambling debts — or even being perceived as a heavy gambler — leads to serious trouble.
It’s not just the gambling. If the debts were with casinos, he might be facing a world of financial deep, but there are laws that govern debt collection in such cases. But Lo Duca says he bets with off-shore bookies, which, he claims, is legal.
There’s only one tiny problem with that — offshore bookies aren’t legal. In fact, Congress is in the process of trying to plug some loopholes that have allowed such Internet gambling sights to thrive outside United States law.
You’d think that he would have noticed by now that when you gamble big, the people you end up hanging around with aren’t bathed in sunshine. That’s because gambling is a losing hobby and people who gamble big also take big risks. The people who don’t take risks in the business are the ones who end up with the money — the bookies. And because it doesn’t do to be known as a soft-hearted bookie who lets people get off without paying, they don’t tend to be the most forgiving people in the world.
It is a recipe for disaster.
What’s interesting about is that neither Major League Baseball nor the Mets seem bothered about the reports. Oh, the commissioner’s office mumbled something about gambling being bad, but as long as he doesn’t break any rules, such as betting on baseball games, baseball doesn’t get involved. And the Mets, presumably after Lo Duca assured them he didn’t have a gambling problem, said they were standing behind their man, who, not coincidentally, is among the best in the business at hitting baseballs and is pretty good at catching them, too. One guesses that if he were the bullpen catcher, he’d already be looking for a job.
The nation grieved for those hurt, killed and affected by the Boston Marathon bombings. After one of the suspects was caught on Friday — following a day-long lockdown and manhunt — sports returned to Boston over the weekend.
About 35 years ago, the NFL threatened to suspend Joe Namath for similar reasons: He was partners in a saloon called Bachelors III that was frequented by members of the Mob.
Over the years, baseball and other sports have grown more interested in other sins, most of them having to do with illegal drugs, both recreational and performance-enhancing. Gambling on baseball is still the mother of all no-nos, but running up big debts to bookies doesn’t seem to rate at all anymore.
A lot of things don’t rate, as far as that goes. Baseball worries about gambling on games and drugs. That’s it. If Lo Duca got caught with a bag of weed in his car and a blood test confirmed he was higher than the International Space Station, he’d be waiting to hear how long his suspension would be for. But because it’s just big-time gambling, he’s home free.
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