The news that the owners of two Indian Premier League franchises—the Chennai Super Kings and the Rajasthan Royals—have been suspended for two years for betting has been greeted in my (Martin’s) neighborhood in Brooklyn with a shrug and a yawn. I’m blessed to encounter many cricket fans of South Asian descent in the daily course of living here, and to a man—and it’s still only men at the moment—every one of them thinks the IPL is fixed, has always been fixed, and will always be about fleecing ordinary Indians. Such cynicism will only be affirmed by this latest ruling, one in a string of setbacks for a competition that has provided a huge amount of entertainment for cricket enthusiasts of all sorts—as well as some national pride for India in hosting a tournament that seemingly every player anywhere in the world itches to be part of. Of course, as Evander and I note in our book, Right Off the Bat, which is the fons et origo of this website, corruption and, specifically, gambling have been part and parcel of cricket and baseball since their beginnings. (Indeed, organized crime almost tore professional baseball apart in 1919.) Those who, in either game, like to talk of honor and character, fair play and high principle, sometimes forget that shady brokers and unreconstructed racists, beer-swilling drunks and snoring boors, and injections of armfuls of cash and arms full of other substances are also a part of the games, if not necessarily the fun, of cricket and baseball. Ironically, I missed all the hoopla of the IPL this year, having been so entranced by the ostensibly purer pleasures of this year’s World Cup ODI that the IPL seemed what it always is: excessive. Next year, of course, the IPL (replete with promises that this year corruption will finally have no part in the proceedings) will have the gaudy, fireworks-displayed stage to itself, and we can revel in its tawdry, magnificent glory once again.
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