Yankees post about Nestor Cortes hitting a betting prop, and the reaction wasn't positive

New York Yankees starting pitcher Nestor Cortes had five strikeouts on Opening Day, which was meaningful to some. (AP Photo/Kevin M. Cox)
New York Yankees starting pitcher Nestor Cortes had five strikeouts on Opening Day, which was meaningful to some. (AP Photo/Kevin M. Cox)

Long before states were allowed to decide whether to legalize sports betting, there was gambling on games. The leagues and teams knew it, the fans certainly knew it, but it was ignored. The explosion of legal sports betting brought it from the shadows into the forefront.

At times, that makes for very strange bedfellows.

On Thursday, the New York Yankees played the Houston Astros on Opening Day. Nestor Cortes struck out five batters, and certainly that was significant to some bettors who play prop bets. But it was jarring to see the Yankees, the most historic franchise in Major League Baseball and perhaps all of American sports, post on X (formerly Twitter) about Cortes hitting the over on his strikeouts prop along with the odds of it hitting.

FanDuel is "an official sports betting partner" of the Yankees.

For the most part we've become desensitized to sports betting being a part of the landscape. But this wasn't a lower-tier franchise seeking some attention and engagement. It's the Yankees. And during a time in which MLB is dealing with a gambling scandal surrounding its most marketable player.

Maybe it was better when the leagues and teams didn't try to mingle with the betting community.

Should Yankees be posting about sports betting?

The Yankees have 3.8 million followers on X (formerly Twitter), and the post on Cortes got more than 500,000 views.

The reaction to it wasn't positive. Here are just a few of the replies:

It's hard to know where the line is anymore. This week, Boston Celtics star Jayson Tatum said he feels bad when he's responsible for not hitting someone's parlay, which is not something he would have ever addressed a few years ago. But players hearing from fans about their performance and how it relates to their bets is becoming more common. Betting has always been a part of the sporting landscape, but it has never been out in the open like this.

And when leagues and teams mix up in it, it brings a brighter glare to the inevitable controversies.

Teams and sports betting intertwining

The biggest story in sports the past couple weeks has been Los Angeles Dodgers star Shohei Ohtani, his fired interpreter and denials that Ohtani had anything to do with the sports gambling involving millions of dollars that is part of a federal investigation into an alleged illegal bookmaker.

There's no evidence yet that Ohtani had anything to do with sports betting or that he broke any rules. But there is something uncomfortable about the Yankees posting about their starting pitcher hitting an over on a prop bet while everyone is talking about a controversy involving sports betting with the biggest name in the sport.

It's unlikely to be walked back. Sports betting is a new revenue stream for leagues and teams, and a booming one. Once a few teams started getting involved with sportsbooks, the stigma was lifted and the floodgates were open. To some, even regular bettors, teams celebrating their players' prop bet wins is not welcomed. It gets awkward when there's a situation like the one regarding Jontay Porter of the Toronto Raptors and betting irregularities involving prop bets with Porter.

There's probably a line that teams and leagues are getting perilously close to crossing, if they haven't already. But will it change? The over/under for Yankees starter Carlos Rodon's strikeouts is 5.5 on Friday. You might hear how that one turns out.