Jack Todd: Gambling scourge is running amok in professional sports

No matter how the Shohei Ohtani scandal plays out, there’s too much money involved for MLB, the NBA, NFL or NHL to take any concrete action.

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Here’s a bet you can take to the bank: no matter how the Shohei Ohtani story plays out, nothing will change.

Ads from FanDuel and Bet99 will still pollute every sports broadcast. Problem gamblers like Ohtani’s translator, Ippei Mizuhara, will continue to destroy their lives and the lives of those closest to them.

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And the thoughtless stampede into gambling will go on, unchecked.

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Ohtani, who is expected to meet the media Monday, is baseball’s most glittering star, a global icon with a $700-million contract as he opens the season with the Los Angeles Dodgers, one of three or four global brands big enough to match his reach. (Toronto Blue Jays, you should have known from the start that you had no chance.)

No matter how this plays out, the US$4.5 million transferred from Ohtani’s account to that of an alleged bookmaker is already a stain on the game, the inevitable consequence of the thoughtless plunge into gambling.

Best case? Ohtani himself is completely innocent, dragged into this by his friend and interpreter, Mizuhara.

Most probable case? Ohtani came to Mizuhara’s rescue and the funds were transferred either by him or with his knowledge, in which case Ohtani might face a suspension of uncertain duration.

Most improbable case? If Ohtani himself was the gambler (and I don’t believe he was) he will join Shoeless Joe Jackson and Pete Rose on the lifetime ban list.

Will any of this make the slightest difference to Major League Baseball? To the NFL, NBA or NHL, all of whom are in this rotten gambling business up to their necks? To the sports networks?

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No. Where there’s money to be siphoned up, no one gives a damn. Not the commissioners, not the owners, not the players, not the agents, not the networks or the talking heads. Not guys like Wayne Gretzky and Auston Matthews, with their snouts in the trough from Day 1. Not the fans, who are placing bets by the millions.

Ohtani wasn’t the only one touched by the gambling monster in the past week. In the NBA, Cleveland Cavaliers coach J.B. Bickerstaff said that he has been threatened by gamblers — threats that in at least one case included photographs of his home and family.

Will it matter if a coach or a star player is murdered? Nope. There will be thoughts and prayers and the whole sick business will keep on rolling.

Sadly, that’s where we are, folks.

In memoriam, Chris Simon: He was the first tough guy I interviewed, back in the spring of 1994 when he was a towering fixture in the corner of the Nordiques’ cramped dressing room. To see the man in a cut-off T-shirt was to understand thoroughly why you have no desire to be a fighter in the NHL.

Simon could fight and he could play the game. He scored 144 goals in his career, including 29 for the Capitals in the 1999-2000 season. Now he’s gone, almost certainly another victim of CTE, and Gary Bettman and Bill Daly still insist that the science isn’t clear on the progressive brain disease.

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Bettman is the most powerful man in the history of the NHL. No one has ever had his impact on the game. Some of it is even good. And some, like his position on fighting and CTE, is well-nigh unforgivable.

Never say never: Canadian Deanna Stellato-Dudek is 40 years old. She retired from figure skating in 2001. And she just won a world championship gold medal in the very dangerous sport of figure skating, along with partner Maxime Deschamps.

Just when you think the entire world of sports has become so corrupt it makes you ill, along comes someone like Stellato-Dudek to restore a little faith.

Lies, rumours &&&& vicious innuendo: How long is it going to take for the CFL and the Toronto Argonauts to figure out they have a major problem on their hands in the form of quarterback Chad Kelly? Kelly’s unhinged rant on X (formerly Twitter) while under investigation for sexual harassment, would be the end of his CFL career if either the Argos or the league had any guts. …

We’re going to assume that the Gang of Violent Gentlemen finally cracked down on Tom Wilson because his victim was wearing the wrong jersey. Two games for trying to take a guy’s head off, four games because the guy was a Leaf. …

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What in the name of Rocket Richard was Céline Dion thinking when she decided it was a good idea to do a lineup read in the Bruins’ locker room? What next? She buys a house in Westmount? …

Kentucky Wildcats. Dallas Cowboys. Toronto Maple Leafs. Because tradition matters.

Heroes: Cayden Primeau, Mike Matheson, Juraj Slafkovsky, Kaiden Guhle, Alex Newhook, Elaine Chuli, Maureen Murphy, Kati Tabin, Gabriel David, Chris Simon &&&& last but not least, the championship Concordia Stingers women’s hockey team.

Zeros: Gary Bettman, Bob Daly, Ippei Mizuhara, Nicolas Daigle, Massimo Siciliano, Chad Kelly, Randy Ambrosie, Tom Wilson, Wayne Gretzky, Auston Matthews, FanDuel and every other betting site, Claude Brochu, David Samson &&&& last but not least, Jeffrey Loria.

Now and forever.

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