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Tim Donaghy Book a Warning to MLB

Tim Donaghy is about to be released from prison for his part on fixing NBA games. His book was supposed to be release later this month. But... (as DEADSPIN reports) money talks...

About 10 months ago, Donaghy shopped the book to Triumph Books, an imprint of Random House, according to a source close to Donaghy. Triumph, the source says, "put forth a huge effort to verify every statement in that book." (Triumph's editorial director, Tom Bast, declined to comment.) Two weeks ago, Blowing the Whistle was ready for printing; 60 Minutes had plans to interview Donaghy in conjunction with the book's publication. Then the NBA came calling. "They came after Random House and threatened a lawsuit," the source says, "and Random House just rolled and decided to not go with it. It's really that simple."

Here is lengthy collection of excerpts from Tim Donaghy's book about gambling and cheating as a referee in the NBA.

Referee Dick Bavetta told me Denver needed the win and that it would look bad for the staff and the league if the Nuggets missed the playoffs by one game. There were still a few games left on the schedule before the end of the season, and the standings could potentially change. But on that day in Oakland, Bavetta looked at me and casually stated, "Denver will win if they need the game. That's why I'm on it."

I was thinking, How is Denver going to win on the road in San Antonio? At the time, the Spurs were arguably the best team in the league. Bavetta answered my question before it was asked.

"Duncan will be on the bench with three fouls within the first five minutes of the game," he calmly stated.

As it turned out, Denver didn't need the win after all; they locked up a spot in the playoffs before they got to San Antonio. In a twist of fate, it was the Spurs that ended up needing the win to have a shot at the division title, and Bavetta generously accommodated. In our pregame meeting, he talked about how important the game was to San Antonio and how meaningless it was to Denver, and that San Antonio was going to get the benefit of the calls that night. Armed with this inside information, I called Jack Concannon before the game and told him to bet the Spurs.

To no surprise, we won big. San Antonio blew Denver out of the building that evening, winning by 26 points. When Jack called me the following morning, he expressed amazement at the way an NBA game could be manipulated. Sobering, yes; amazing, no. That's how the game is played in the National Basketball Association.

A critical fact about the Donaghy scandal is that he was caught by a federal investigation that was wiretapping criminal suspects on completely unrelated charges. There was no internal investigation of Donaghy.

The media loves sports advertising revenue and is downplaying the whole affair relative to the terrible legacy it leaves. Of course, the level of naieveté on the part of supposed sporting insiders is astounding. One gets called all sorts of names when one implies anything besides the belief that umps are dishonest or biased or anything but trying to be good blue collar workers at their jobs. Meanwhile Tim Donaghy openly mocks veteran announcers' analysis of his rigged game calling...

We had another variation of this gag simply referred to as the "first foul of the game" bet. While still in the locker room before tip-off, we would make a wager on which of us would call the game's first foul. That referee would either have to pay the ball boy or pick up the dinner tab for the other two referees. Sometimes, the ante would be $50 a guy. Like the technical foul bet, it was hilarious — only this time we were testing each others nerves to see who had the guts to hold out the longest before calling a personal foul. There were occasions when we would hold back for two or three minutes — an eternity in an NBA game — before blowing the whistle. It didn't matter if bodies were flying all over the place; no fouls were called because no one wanted to lose the bet.

We played this little game during the regular season and summer league. After a game, all three refs would gather around the VCR and watch a replay of the game. Early in the contest, the announcers would say, "Holy cow! They're really letting them play tonight!" (emphasis mine) If they only knew...

...but just look at hype surrounding the steroid scandal and understand that baseball's status as the national pastime will not let any coming potential disaster of umpires adversely affecting the game go as lightly as buying off a publisher. The entire NFL is brain-cancer-in-waiting-roiders, but instead Henry Waxman demands MLB run the congressional hearing gauntlet. Why baseball? No matter how popular other sports are, baseball is part of the American DNA and everyone has an opinion on how to fix it. When it is baseball, the sharks taste blood in the water and attack with ferocity.

Could baseball survive such an attack like Tim Donaghy revealed? Think of the damage two strikes brought in the 80s and 90s and the taint of steroids this decade and think - would the discovery of a Donaghy behind the plate be a nail in the coffin for the MLB?