Say what you will about the Tim Donaghy mess - at least if a guy with the last name of “Gotti” tried to buy an NBA team, I feel confident that Commissioner David Stern would be skeptical. Apparently that’s not the case in baseball in Taiwan, where a consortium of alleged bookies and gangsters bought a team this season. And - what a shock - the CHINA POST reports that the team has been suspended and players and their coach have been arrested on charges of throwing a game last month.
The team in question is the D-Media T-Rex, who play in the Chinese Professional Baseball League. Their team is co-owned by noted Taiwanese crime magnate Lin Ping-wen, who allegedly strong-armed his way into a share of the team’s ownership, and then started using his influence to fix games. Among the people arrested so far are bookmakers, the team’s coach and three players, including former MLB pitcher Cory Bailey, who also doubled as the team’s pitching coach.
I know it’s shocking that a team as storied and proud as the D-Media T-Rex would be involved with something like this, but it happened. Things came to a head during a game last month against the ChinaTrust Whales:
Police investigators said the T-Rex coach required his players to throw wild pitches, fumble and commit other fielding errors to lose the game narrowly.
“It’s Lin who masterminded the upset to win the heavy wagers on the Whalers’ win,” one investigator pointed out.
Some T-Rex players who refused to go along with Lin and the coach were threatened, another investigator said. “Lin’s soldiers threatened to wound them so that they might not be able to play again,” he added.
You might be wondering how a well-known gangster with ties to gambling can be allowed to own a team? When you consider that the league only has six teams and has been struggling financially for years, you can see why it might be desperate for any ownership, no matter how shady the money.
Ironically, the league fell into decline following a major betting scandal back in 1997 that lead to the disbandment of the China Times Eagles after all but two of their Taiwanese players were found to have not been involved in throwing games. Also around this time, players from another team were kidnapped and beaten by gamblers who suspected them of throwing games to make money.
But other than all of that, it’s a great league! Honestly, if Barry Bonds wants to continue his baseball career next season, I can’t think of a more appropriate place for him to do it than in Taiwan. Plus, I honestly don’t think they are going to do much drug testing. If nothing else, EliteXC should announce that the next Kimbo Slice fight is going to be in Taiwan ASAP.