With the news of Todd Helton‘s DUI arrest, which adds his name to the long list of MLB players who have been caught drunk driving in recent years, I thought it would be appropriate to post a piece I wrote nearly two years ago on the subject. (It first ran in May 2011.)
Here’s Helton’s mug shot. How charming.
In my opinion and in the opinion of many others, MLB still has a long way to go in how they deal with their players being arrested for operating vehicles while under the influence. It seems a little backward that there’s more outrage when someone is caught using PEDs than when someone is exhibiting behavior that can kill other people.
While some people are pointing to the low attendance numbers so far this season as a problem for Major League Baseball, others–like me–think that the rash of drunk driving arrests is an even bigger issue.
This spring alone, six Major Leaguers have been picked up for DUIs: Adam Kennedy (Seattle Mariners); Coco Crisp (Oakland Athletics); Derek Lowe (Atlanta Braves); Cleveland’s Shin-Soo Choo and Austin Kearns; and Miguel Cabrera (Detroit Tigers).
My question is, how is this even possible?
These players aren’t rookies. The guys listed above are veteran players who have been around the league. Surely they’ve made enough money to–oh I don’t know–hire a driver to pick them up when they’ve become too intoxicated to drive home?
What’s worse? This wasn’t even Miguel Cabrera’s first offense.
The reports indicate that Cabrera forced at least two cars off the road due to his reckless driving. The Range Rover he was piloting caused a Wal-Mart tractor trailer to go off of a main road, and another car to swerve on the grass to avoid a head on collision with the inebriated Major Leaguer.
When will these players get it through their thick skulls that drinking and driving is dangerous? When someone gets killed? Oh, right, that’s already happened.
Two years ago, Major League Baseball was dealt a major blow when Angels rookie pitcher Nick Adenhart and two friends were killed in a horrific accident caused by a drunk driver. The accident cut short a promising baseball career, ended two other young lives and sent shockwaves throughout Major League Baseball.
Apparently those shockwaves have become barely visible ripples because how else can you explain the rash of recent drunk driving incidents?
Now, Major League Baseball–finally–wants to do something about it.
As it stands, the current collective bargaining agreement, which expires later this year, has provisions for drugs like cocaine and marijuana but there is no way of disciplining players for alcohol related offenses. In the past, only confidential counseling and treatment were offered on a case-by-case basis.
The new plan, according to two anonymous baseball officials, is to make the punishment for alcohol-related offenses mirror the punishments handed down for drugs like marijuana: mandatory counseling and possible suspension if the player refuses to cooperate.
I say it’s about time.
Derek Lowe, who was picked up for his DUI on April 28, took a no hitter into the seventh inning of last night’s game against the Phillies. I, along with a few other people, voiced our unhappiness at the possibility of his pitching a no hitter when he probably should have been suspended for his arrest.
Luckily, Shane Victorino got a base hit and Lowe just picked up a win instead of adding his name to baseball’s history books. I’m all for redemption story lines but he hadn’t even been punished for his transgression.
Good job by MLB for finally doing something–or at least talking about doing something–but also shame on them for it taking so long.