By now, I’m sure you’ve heard the Star Magazine story  about Yankees shortstop Alex Rodriguez  allegedly playing and hosting $500,000 poker games in New York City, Los Angeles and Miami in which cocaine was openly used and thugs threatened players over their gambling debts.
Now, as Major League Baseball  investigates A-Rod’s involvement, New York Daily News writer Jim Rich threw  Celtics  free agent forward Troy Murphy  and other professional athletes right under the bus along with Rodriguez. Here’s the passage from Rich’s column entitled “Yankees’ Alex Rodriguez playing poker is only a big deal because he has proven to be a lightning rod”:
Over the past seven years, I have been in underground clubs with former Jet Jonathan Vilma , former Net Troy Murphy and Mike Dunleavy , now of the Pacers. Those sightings ended up reported in the Daily News, yet did not elicit calls for investigations or suspensions of any of the athletes involved. Nor should they have. But that begs this question: Why is Rodriguez’s poker playing being viewed as seedy or criminal?
The writer refers to a 2007 Daily News article  that claims “patrons said” (Rich?) Murphy and Dunleavy had been spotted in the same Manhattan poker den where A-Rod first came under fire by the MLB for playing in 2005 — and was eventually robbed along with “Sopranos” star Robert Iler (a.k.a., A.J. Soprano) for $50,000. Of course, that piece noted “poker players can legally wager at clubs” in New York.
However, A-Rod’s alleged gambling in Los Angeles and Miami was in fact illegal. The $100,000 buy-in games in Los Angeles — currently under investigation by the FBI — reportedly featured cocaine, fistfights and hundreds of thousands of dollars from Ponzi schemer Brad Ruderman as well as A-List celebrities Tobey Maguire, Leonardo DiCaprio, Ben Affleck and Matt Damon.
Additionally, organizing any poker hand over $10 breaks Florida law. I’m guessing A-Rod’s Miami game exceeded 10 bucks, and I’m guessing Z-lister Troy Murphy wasn’t invited. Other than that, I have no idea why A-Rod’s poker playing is “being viewed as seedy or criminal” and Murphy’s wasn’t.
I’m surprised the writer didn’t throw Celtics forward Paul Pierce  under the A-Rod bus for playing in the legalized World Series  of Poker in Las Vegas, as at least one WEEI caller has done already.