Major League Baseball is pushing back on complaints by a minor-league player that he has been unfairly blacklisted for three years because of bets he placed on the sport during the 2020 COVID era.
In a series of posts on social media platforms, pitcher Pete Bayer said he placed the wagers only during the COVID pandemic after the 2020 minor league season was canceled. He said he made the bets in Colorado, his home state, while he was still a member of the Oakland A’s organization.
Some personal news:
Since the beginning of the 2021, I have been on the MLB Ineligible List due to placing wagers on a few MLB games during the 2020 COVID year when MILB did not have a season.
I am currently still ineligible for the 2023 season, a third straight year. pic.twitter.com/623z0s6BXk
— Peter Bayer (@PeterBayer47) February 15, 2023
A ninth-round pick of the Tampa Bay Rays out of Cal Poly Pomona in 2016, Bayer reached as far as High-A Stockton in 2019. He pitched in several independent leagues in 2022 and remains listed as a free agent.
“My entire life, I’ve spent the summers playing baseball and, without competing and playing, I did not know what to do with myself,” Bayer said in one of the posts. “When the season was canceled in 2020, a lot of us were uncertain about our careers moving forward. These were unprecedented times in which many of us weren’t thinking clearly. I made this mistake and I’ve owned up to it.”
Bayer said he signed with the Cincinnati Reds in January 2021, but he received a letter from Commissioner Rob Manfred’s office a few weeks later informing him that he was being investigated and suspended. The league put him on the ineligible list and he has remained on it ever since.
“I did everything MLB asked, including meeting with a psychologist and other ZOOM meetings with their investigative team,” Bayer said in one of his posts. “They informed me that I would be able to apply for reinstatement after the 2022 World Series. I figured they would grant me the ability to play again or be involved with MLB because this has been an extensive suspension.”
He said he found out Wednesday his request had been denied.
Commissioner’s office responds
Major League Baseball issued a statement to Sports Handle Thursday, saying, “After a thorough investigation, it was determined that Mr. Bayer repeatedly bet on baseball in violation of Major League Rule 21 and MLB’s policy on sports betting and engaged in other misconduct that was not in the best interest of baseball. Therefore, he was placed on the ineligible list, where he remains.”
Reached via direct message on Twitter, Bayer said he suspects the “other misconduct” could refer to comments he made in various publications criticizing low wages for minor-league players. Amid publication of those critical stories, MLB raised minor league wages in 2021, with Class A players getting a roughly $200 weekly raise.
“My guess is interfering with the investigation as well as other comments on MILB pay that I was fairly outspoken on,” Bayer said. “They said they didn’t like how my attorney and I constantly hounded them about it.”
Baseball’s relationship with sports betting has evolved considerably since Pete Rose’s lifetime ban was handed down in 1989, but the league’s rule on gambling on the sport remains firm.
“Any player, umpire or Club or League official or employee who shall bet any sum whatsoever on any baseball game in connection with which the bettor has no duty to perform, shall be declared ineligible for one year,” the rule states. The punishment for betting on games in which the person has a duty to perform is a lifetime ban.
In this case, MLB seems to be relying on the “other misconduct” aspect of its statement to prolong the suspension.