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Boston Red Sox legend says MLB had wild tactics to warn players about gambling, including help from mobsters

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Credit: USA Today Network

Boston Red Sox legend Jonathan Papelbon recently revealed the wild lengths MLB will go to scare players away from getting involved in sports betting.

While the 2024 MLB season officially got underway on Thursday, there is no bigger story in the league than the ongoing drama with Los Angeles Dodgers superstar Shohei Ohtani. The two-time MVP is embroiled in a scandal that has linked him to illegal sports betting.

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It is the ultimate no-no in professional sports and is why all-time hits leader Pete Rose was handed a lifetime ban from the league in 1989. The Cincinnati Reds great also weighed in on the Ohtani scandal with a hilariously perfect response this past week.

This latest gambling scandal unsurprisingly is a talking point all over the baseball spectrum, including in the hundreds of podcasts on the sport. During a new episode of Audacy’s “Baseball Isn’t Boring” podcast Boston Red Sox great Jonathan Papelbon spilled some interesting tea on what the league did while he was playing to inform players about the perils of sports betting.

“They’ve brought former FBI informants with the mob with gambling rings in the mob to come talk in spring training about, ‘Don’t get sucked into gambling. Stay clean. Don’t get into that world because once you get into it, you’re done,'” Papelbon said. “That’s how serious this is, man. We’re trying to keep the game clean. Once the game gets infiltrated, it’s done.”

“Especially young guys and guys that are in my position like a closer who can really affect a game. I could’ve affected every game that I played in. Literally,” he continued, “To the amount of we can still win but I can let another run score, cover, be OK, nobody would ever know, to that extent. As a player, I don’t think it happens as much as you think that they get approached, but they do. It does happen to players.”

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Jonathan Papelbon retired from MLB after the 2016 season following two seasons with the Washington Nationals. He played seven seasons with the Boston Red Sox and was a part of their World Series-winning team in 2007.

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