MLB Keeps Doing Nothing About Its DUI Epidemic

Apr 3, 2012 by

There’s been widespread praise for MLB’s revamped drug testing procedures that are spelled out in the latest collective bargaining agreement.

But there’s no mention of how the league should handle drunk driving, which is happening at an alarming rate among major leaguers. Obviously steroids and alcohol abuse are separate issues. One kills 17,000+ people a year, the other kills three. But even though there’s no definitive conclusion on how steroids really affect the game (beyond “integrity“) … it deserves harsher treatment, right?

I guess I just don’t really get it. How can a player get wasted at a strip club, pop some muscle relaxers, get behind a wheel (of his Benz), crash into a parked car, get charged with a DUI … and suffer no consequences from his employer?

Over the last week, two more players were booked on DUI charges. And it’s not just dudes having too much fun while making bad decisions during spring training. It’s happening during the regular season, playoffs, offseason and any other time of year you choose. Check out this list that covers the last eight years:

  • 2012: Cristhian Martinez (Braves)
  • 2012: Matt Bush (Rays)
  • 2012: Bobby Jenks (Red Sox)
  • 2012: Frank Coonelly (Pirates, president)
  • 2012: Alex White (Rockies)
  • 2012: Eric Langill (Mets)
  • 2011: Shin-Soo Choo (Indians)
  • 2011: Adam Kennedy (Mariners)
  • 2011: Coco Crisp (Athletics)
  • 2011: Derek Lowe (Braves)
  • 2011: Austin Kearns (Indians)
  • 2011: Miguel Cabrera (Tigers)
  • 2010: Dane Sardinha (Phillies)
  • 2009: Ryan Ouellette (Orioles)
  • 2008: Joba Chamberlain (Yankees)
  • 2008: Luis Vizcaino (Rockies)
  • 2007: Tony La Russa (Cardinals, manager)
  • 2007: Jim Hickey (Rays, coach)
  • 2007: Steve Swindal (Yankees, general partner)
  • 2007: Gustavo Chacin (Blue Jays)
  • 2006: Francisco Liriano (Twins)
  • 2006: Esteban Loaiza (Athletics)
  • 2006: Dontrelle Willis (Marlins)
  • 2006: Jim Bowden (National, general manager)
  • 2005: Sidney Ponson (Orioles)
  • 2005: Erik DuBose (Orioles)
  • 2004: Rafael Furcal (Braves)

And I’m sure there’s more out there I’m missing. Though not every player on that list ended up with a conviction, it’s still alarming that they would put themselves in that position. MLB’s drunk driving problem extends beyond players to front office executives and managers, too. But after the carefully-crafted apologies are made and the court fines paid, it’s back to business as usual.

Alcohol and baseball are kind of synonymous, that I get. From the free beer in the clubhouse (not for the Red Sox) to the beer advertisements that help fund baseball, it’s a part of the game like hot dogs and sacrifice bunts.  But sooner or later, MLB is going to suffer a PR nightmare when one of it’s players kills someone because of drunk driving.

You would think that nightmare took place in 2009 when one of its rising players was killed by a drunk driver. But apparently not. Having no policy to punish (or at the very least help) players with drinking incidents is beyond ignorant.

The writing is on the wall, baseball. So just put it in writing so players stop drinking and driving.


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  1. This has bothered me. Someone can be suspended 50 games for taking a supplement with Ephedra but if you drink and drive you get no punishment. It is even more startling considering the Angels lost a pitcher due to a drunk driver.

    • Agreed. Startling, shocking, perplexing … it makes no sense.

    • Eric Neff

      You can still see Jered Weaver write the numbers “34″ (Adenhart’s number) on the back of the mound before he throws the first pitch of each start. That night still has repercussions in Anaheim, non-baseball and baseball-related. Local friends of mine (I’m from Orange County) still write about how it affected them.

      • The story hasn’t faded away nationally, either. Every time there’s an arrest made for a DUI (which is clearly pretty frequent), his name is mentioned quite a bit. And it should be more.

  2. Thanks, Steven. I’ll update it.

  3. Kevin Leaptrot

    This is especially shameful when you stop to consider that Nick Adenhart of the Angels was killed by a drunk driver just a little over three years ago. You’d think that MLB would want to get out in front of this issue in light of that, but I guess the MLBPA is probably standing in the way. Certainly an opportunity for improvement here.

    • I’d have a hard time imagining the MLBPA fighting a DUI suspension, but I wouldn’t put it past them.


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