How a Sports Handicapper Tried to Frame Jeff Locke For Fixing Games Over a Facebook Message

This story from Sports Illustrated is probably the craziest story you’ll read this week. It’s about how a sports handicapper and a childhood friend of Jeff Locke’s tried to make it seem like he and Locke were intentionally fixing games. This was all during the early part of Locke’s career in 2012, when his results were pretty horrible. In short, the handicapper was accurately guessing that Locke would have a bad outing, or would lose a good outing the second time through the lineup.

There’s no way to do the story justice, other than to just read it. However, I’ll add a few summary points, just because the story is written in a way where you think Locke might have actually played a part in this. Only at the end of this long article do they actually clarify that Locke never knew about this at all. That’s not the best approach to take on a subject like this, especially when most people start skimming the article after the beginning, and could possibly miss that key part. Thus, I felt I should point out that Locke was not actually throwing games, in case you were confused by that.

**The handicapper, Kris Barr, tried contacting Locke over Facebook in 2011. His brother, Don, also tried contacting Locke, who eventually responded saying that the two only wanted to be Locke’s friend because he played for the Pirates. This started a grudge where Kris vowed to bet against Locke every time.

**Locke was in the majors in 2011 and 2012 at the end of each season. He was pretty bad in those stretches, and the Pirates were also bad. Since there was no interest in Pirates games, Barr decided to start telling people that he and Locke were conspiring to fix games.

**Eventually, people started believing this might be true, especially after Barr was accurately predicting that Locke would blow up in the fifth inning of a September 16th game against the Cubs in 2012.

**There was an investigation, which seemed to be run by the real life Jack Bauer, with no regard for the law, and it turned up that this was all a hoax that Locke had no part of.

Tim Williams

Author: Tim Williams

Tim is the owner and editor in chief of Pirates Prospects. He started the site in January 2009, and turned it into his full time job during the 2011 season. Prior to starting Pirates Prospects, Tim worked with AccuScore.com, providing MLB, NHL, and NFL coverage to various national media outlets, including ESPN Insider, USA Today, Yahoo Sports, and the Wall Street Journal. He also writes the annual Prospect Guide, which is sold through the site. Tim lives in Bradenton, where he provides live coverage all year of Spring Training, mini camp, instructs, the Bradenton Marauders, and the GCL Pirates.

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  • Lee Young

    That Barr guy is, as he says, ‘just being a jerk’.

    I guess some people are like that. “You’re famous, and if you don’t like me, I’m gonna make trouble for you.” All it did was make trouble for himself. What an a$$. No wonder Jeff didn’t want him to be his friend…..lol

  • Monsoon Harvard

    I remember when Locke started out, I thought he would never be any good. He really was awful. But I never believed that he was trying to be awful. Eventually at one point he became the reigning era champ in triple a, if I recall correctly. It took Jeff a little extra time at each level, but he improved with time. It was then that I started having more faith in Locke’s abilities. He just needed to get used to the major league hitters & umpires, and he proved to be a worthy starter in time.

    Last year was the most innings and latest into the season that he’d ever pitched, so I give him the benefit of the doubt as to why he tailed off so much. He built up some new stamina from the ordeal, and I believe each year going forward he will continue to improve.

    What a strange thing to happen to him, with these jerks trying to frame him. Just goes to show you there are a lot of evil people in this world. I’m glad he was vindicated.

    • Lee Young

      I have been in Locke’s corner since day one. I have often compared him to Ted Lilly. For once, I am hoping I am right about something…..lol.

  • Matt Beam

    I’m not a sue happy type person, but seems like Locke has a real case for a defamation lawsuit. Of course , these slimeballs probably have nothing of value to actually seize/be awarded

    • deacs

      I mean, what can you really get from a guy like that? Insane.

    • MIfan

      I might consider a defamation suit against SI. Hacks!

      • Matt Beam

        did they have some blogger right (I mean write) that article?

  • William Wallace

    Yea I bought a new boat with the bets I made on Locke. Morton was also in on it and that guy who went to Princeton and breed horses.

  • sammykhalifa

    interesting story, but man has sportsillustrated website turned into a convoluted mess . . .

    • deacs

      Like Tim pointed out, you have to get through about 90% of the story before the actually admit to Locke having no part in it. Now you’d kinda have to be an idiot to think otherwise but the article is intentionally written this way.

  • freddylang

    Disappointing from SI but they are hardly the only ones. Journalism should now be called “Journalism”

    • Lee Young

      freddy…not ‘getting’ your point….you spell both the same. Typo?

      • deacs

        I think he meant to put it in quotes. Like calling Tabata “26 years old” when we all believe him to be about 31.

        • freddylang

          Yes deacs. That is it. It was a weak “joke”.

        • freddylang

          I remember comparing Tabata to Lastings Milledge a few years ago and horrifically those guys ended up eerily similar. In the majors with some success very young and then a slow decline into obscurity. Milledge incredibly is still only 29 and was sent to the minors before going to Japan, having 2 ok seasons and only played a few games this year. Injured maybe? Milledge career OPS is ..723 and Tabata .717…so many of their other numbers and their body type and everything very comparable. Maybe Tabata will get sold to Japan soon?

  • bucsws2014

    If Jack Bauer was involved, Kris Barr would only be communicating via a seance.

    Do not trivialize Jack Bauer.

  • szielinski

    Lawsuit?