Bernie Lincicome: Gambling and White Sox don't seem like they go together

  • A plaque outside the Shoeless Joe Jackson Museum is shown in Greenville, S.C. Jackson is one of eight members of the White Sox accused of throwing the 1919 World Series.

    A plaque outside the Shoeless Joe Jackson Museum is shown in Greenville, S.C. Jackson is one of eight members of the White Sox accused of throwing the 1919 World Series. Associated Press

 
Updated 5/13/2022 2:34 PM

A statement released by the White Sox, the team that threw the 1919 World Series, announced that it is now a proud partner of gamblers.

Say it ain't so, Jerry.

 

Our old friend irony is always welcome here. I've been in the man bites dog business for most of my adult life, and while I may never have seen such a thing, I stay alert.

My first thought, of course, was how do I get a column out of this?

Would the fire department endorse arson? Would dentists dare go into business with chewy caramel? Have we learned nothing from Fox News?

These questions came to mind, along with a vision of Joe Jackson, forever stained, the greatest player never allowed into the hallowed hall of legendary ballplayers, though Barry Bonds can make his case once baseball decides to go into partnership with performance enhancing substances.

Yesterday's sin is tomorrow's companion.

The White Sox are actually a little tardy in joining the sportsbook epidemic, now an "industry" celebrating its four-year anniversary since the Supreme Court said go for it. The Cubs are already there, with blueprints for an actual betting "lounge," to use the euphemism.

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The Bears, along with the rest of the NFL, gleefully lend themselves to point spreaders and, inevitably, sports shavers, too. It will come to that.

The recent NFL draft, already in all ways immoral if not outright illegal, staged its prized restocking auction among the whirling slots, clattering dice and clicking cards of a town built for gambling addicts by practicing criminals. Even Pandora has to be embarrassed, not so much Roger Goodell.

I will reluctantly use the name "Las Vegas," but only once, and I reserve the right to refuse to name any of the sports betting abettors, including the White Sox link to the one named after a Roman emperor, probably the one who fixed the Olympic chariot race by using 10 horses instead of four. He lost anyhow, proving there is no such thing as a sure thing.

But we all know who they are, incessantly brought to our attention by television advertising and ballpark signage.

Our once upon a time heroes, excluding Shaquille O'Neal, as a hero, not as a spokescreature, hawk betting sites as natural extensions of daily life, our own beloved Mike Ditka, as an example.

The entire Manning family shares the same gambling connection as the White Sox. Pete Rose, of course, is in on the hustle but so are GOATS like Wayne Gretzky and Michael Jordan and Jerry Rice.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                       
 

So, what's wrong with any of this? Only trust, only truth. An error in the ninth inning is just an error, or is it? A missed free throw is just a miss, or is it? A missed field goal in overtime is just a miss, or is it? See, I have learned something from Fox News. Or have I?

But let's give the Sox their say. The giddy official announcement goes like this: "By teaming up with a globally recognized entertainment leader (name redacted) we are delivering the combined reputation and shared commitment to offer our fans an extraordinary sports entertainment experience."

Huh? Combined reputation? Shared commitment? Politics and PR gibberish make strange bedfellows.

And what of our friends at (name redacted)? "It's a perfect time for (name redacted) to align with an iconic franchise like the Chicago White Sox. Some of the most passionate sports fans in the country call Illinois home."

Well, they got the iconic part correct. There is no more iconic connection between gambling and sports than the White Sox. They very nearly destroyed the sport. Player greed then, owner greed now.

Books, movies and Google are there to remind us of the legacy of back then, and the Sox, now more than a century later, have an ideal opportunity to capitalize on it. Instead of couching the gambling connection with phrases like "shared commitment," the Sox can show pride of place, reminding all of us how we got to where we are.

Here's some signage that might work. "We were first," accompanied by a portrait of the eight Sox players suspended from baseball.

Or, how about, "It all started here." An arrow would accompany that one, pointing to where old Comiskey Park once stood.

Hmmm. When you think about it, the White Sox are missing a bet.

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