Sports Opinion & Analysis

MLB, Breathalyze This: What’s Yellow, Checkered, and Gets You Home Safe?

In MLB on February 12, 2013 at 9:49 am

By Jeff Gibson

It’s that time of year again, folks! Spring Training is just around the corner and baseball players are getting their last Wade Boggs swigs in before the season begins. Only problem is (as has been the norm the last few years) they’re getting behind the wheel after said swigs.

Rockies first basemen Todd Helton is the latest major leaguer to put innocent people’s lives on the line (this time in order to purchase lottery tickets in the wee hours of a Wednesday morning, because the 141 million dollar contract he signed back in 2001 wasn’t enough). Here’s a snippet of his public statement after the arrest: “I am very sorry and embarrassed by my actions. I hold myself to a high standard and take my responsibility as a public figure very seriously.”

Helton sure looks like he takes his

Helton sure looks like he takes this “public figure” role very seriously.

Seriously? “Embarrassed”. Embarrassed? Yes, embarrassed. The emotion that comes with rosy cheeks and a wad of tighty whities up your bum. Maybe the feeling you get when you ask out that pretty red head who lives down the hall and then she tells you her boyfriend is your boss, causing you to wet yourself right in front of her. Like if you stash your 9mm in your belt and head out to the NYC club scene, only to accidentally shoot it off in a night club, nailing yourself in the groin. Well, actually that might be pretty embarrassing. But at least that offense gives you jail time. And a suspension. Thing is, Major League Baseball doesn’t suspend players for DUI arrests. It’s not part of their collective bargaining agreement.

Point is, embarrassment is not the emotion you should harbor after you put innocent lives in danger because your inflated ego is too steroided out for you to care about anyone but yourself and your shrinking man parts. How about remorse? Or shame? Or regret? How big of a narcissist are you to feel embarrassment over a DUI?

La Russa now knows how stray animals feel after they’ve been picked up by Animal Control.

However, Helton isn’t the only MLBer to express this middle school-age emotion over such a selfish crime. Ex-Cardinals manager Tony La Russa was arrested during spring training in 2007, releasing a statement that read: “Last night’s situation is the opposite of feeling good. It was an embarrassment, so I apologize to anyone who is close to me, members of the Cardinals organization, our fans. I regret it, take responsibility and I’m not sure there is anything else I can say.” Again, an “embarrassment”. Calling this an embarrassment is an embarrassment. It’s as if MLBers are coached to give this same bogus answer. But at least La Russa figured out mid-statement that words weren’t going to help clear his name, or right the wrong in this matter. Although another World Series ring in 2011 seems to have been enough. Or the nonprofit foundation he’s set up to rescue domestic animals around his hometown in the San Francisco Bay Area. Do his good deeds make him immune to MLB punishment? No. Apparently, you don’t even have to act like you care one bit about your crime.

Who smiles in a DUI photo?

Point in case: Mr. Triple Crown & Coke himself, Tigers first basemen Miguel Cabrera had the audacity in February 2011 to swig from a bottle in front of officers, then exclaim, “Don’t you know who I am?” As if being a ballplayer meant he got a free pass to potentially kill the less fortunate non-baseball players who may have been crossing the street in front of his SUV before being pulled over. He went on to win MVP in 2012, shaming every player to win the prestigious honor before him. Even Pete Rose. Or 7-timer Barry Bonds. And Major League Baseball keeps them out of the Hall of Fame for gambling on baseball, and for taking steroids, respectively. But these “crimes” don’t put anyone’s lives in danger. Bud Selig, his henchmen, and major league ball players need to address the issue in their next collective bargaining agreement. Until then, I’ll be counting down the days until a ball player kills someone after boozing behind the wheel.

The odds are in my favor. Judging by this list of offenders the last ten years thanks to the Political Game. 2012: Matt Bush, Bobby Jenks, Eric Langill, Alex White. 2011: Miguel Cabrera, Shin Soo Choo, Coco Crisp, Austin Kearns, Adam Kennedy. 2010: Dane Sardinha. 2009: Ryan Ouellette. 2008: Joba Chamberlain, Rafael Furcal, Luis Vizcaino. 2007: Gustavo Chacin, Jim Hickey, Tony La Russa, Steve Swindal. 2006: Jim Bowden, Esteban Loaiza, Dontrelle Willis. 2005: Erik DuBose, Sidney Ponson. 2004 Rafael Furcal.

Oh wait, it already happened! Former big leaguer Jim Leyritz was acquitted of voluntary manslaughter when he killed a woman after running a red light under the influence back in 2007. He didn’t serve a second in jail. Only a year of probation and a $500 fine. This acquittal coming just days after MLBer Nick Adenhart was killed by a drunk driver driving on a suspended license. Guess how many years this “average citizen” received behind bars? Try 51. The absolute minimum.

Ahem. Unless you’re a major leaguer. Or former major leaguer.

Honey badgers don’t look this mean.

I’m not the first to write about this atrocity in major league baseball. Bleacher Report just came out with one a few days ago. Last year it was ESPN. Before that it was CBS sports. I might not even be the hundredth person who has written about it. So why isn’t something being done to address this problem? I could care less about PEDs or HGH at this point. I care more about my safety on the road when I have to share it with major leaguers who don’t have to abide by the same set of rules normal citizens must.

Especially when the solution is so absolutely, brutally, truthfully simple. Call a @#!%ing taxi!

Not that kind of taxi.

So here’s what you do, Bud Selig. You grow a pair and make a decision. Don’t form a committee. Don’t consult your assistants. Or the owners. Put your fist down and doll out some business cards for taxi services to each and every player. I estimate this would cost about $300. Work to prevent this problem from escalating further. Not by shelling out fines and suspensions equal to or greater than the penalties that result from positive drug tests, but by coaching players on the options they have available to them after they’ve been drinking. Punishments won’t solve the problem. It hasn’t solved the steroid era. Help your players by getting them the assistance they clearly need.

Here’s what you do, owners. Hire personal drunk dial drivers for your players. Take it out of your players’ salaries. One drunk dial driver per team. Ten grand for a dude to chill out on warm spring nights waiting for that phone call. What’s that total? $300,000 total for all of the MLB?


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