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Perrotto: Only One Question for Tucupita Marcano — Why?

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Pittsburgh Pirates-Tucupita Marcano

Well, Tucupita Marcano is now known for more than his unique first name.

Major League Baseball has given a lifetime suspension to the former Pittsburgh Pirates utility player for betting on the sport, specifically games involving the Pirates last season while on the injured list. Marcano, currently in the San Diego Padres’ organization, became he first active player to receive a lifetime ban from the sport in a century.

In 1924, New York Giants outfielder Jimmy O’Connell was banned along with coach Cozy Dolan after allegedly offering a $500 bribe to Philadelphia Phillies shortstop Heinie Sand to throw a game on Sept. 27 of that season.

When Pete Rose was banned in 1989, he had already retired as a player and was the Cincinnati Reds’ manager.

One of the oldest rules in the game is that players or any other personnel associated with MLB or its 30 clubs are prohibited from betting on baseball. An even greater sin is betting on a game your team is involved in.

According to MLB, Marcano placed 387 baseball bets during 2022 and 2023, including 231 MLB-related bets, through a legal sportsbook.  Marcano bet over $150,000 on baseball, with $87,319 related to MLB games. A total of 25 of those MLB bets included Pirates games while he was a member of the big-league club. Marcano did not appear in any of the games on which he placed bets because he was on the injured list after sustaining a season-ending knee injury last July 24.

Marcano bet only ON the Pirates and not AGAINST them. So, he did not fix any games, which would be THE cardinal sin of sports.

This would seem the perfect time to point out that the Pirates have a long track record of losing games without trying. They have had losing seasons in 27 of the last 31 years.

Smart Aleck comments aside, I’m not sure what to think.

I don’t know Marcano well. He was a bit player during his time with the Pirates and the language barrier with the Venezuela native kept our interactions to nothing more than exchanging pleasantries.

The big question is why would Marcano risk his career betting on baseball?

Was it out of sheer boredom from being on the injured list after having knee surgery? Maybe.

There is a lot of downtime when a player is injured and it’s easy to run out of things to do. And while every player knows MLB’s gambling rules, it is easy to forget or even disregard them.

It used to be that someone had to go to Nevada to bet on sports in the United States legally. However, the liberalization of sports gambling laws has made it possible to bet legally on sports in more than half of the states.

People no longer have to bet on sports in nefarious ways. Calling bookies and using aliases or placing a bet in the backroom of a bar is a thing of the past. You only need a cellphone and an account with one of the many online sportsbooks to get some action down.

Or perhaps Marcano has a gambling addiction? That could explain why he would be willing to take such a big risk.

Since the story broke Monday that MLB was investigating Marcano, I’ve had people tell me they spotted Marcano at least occasionally during his time with the Pirates in two Western Pennsylvania casinos – The Rivers and The Meadows.

Casino gambling is legal for anyone 21 or over, so Marcano did not break any laws. And certainly, not everyone who visits a casino is a problem gambler.

I also have never heard rumblings from anyone in baseball about Marcano possibly having a problem. Stuff like this usually gets passed around the tight-knit baseball community.

The only thing for certain is it’s a sad story that a 24-year-old threw his professional baseball career away.

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Gambling problem? Call 1-800-GAMBLER (PA/IL) or 1-800-9-WITH-IT (IN only) or 1-800-BETS-OFF (IA only) or 1-800-522-4700 (CO Only) or TN REDLINE: 800-889-9789.