Thursday, May 5, 2011

Baseball's Drinking Problem

I've written a couple of times about baseball's problems with the law and other incidents of bad behavior. Now comes the arrest this week of Cleveland Indians outfielder Shin-Soo Choo on DUI charges. Unfortunately, he's not the only player who has been arrested for drunken driving since spring training began.

At least five other players are in the same situation: Adam Kennedy of the Seattle Mariners; Derek Lowe of the Atlanta Braves; Austin Kearns and Coco Crisp of the Indians; and Miguel Cabrera of the Detroit Tigers.

I don't know if that's more than in an average year, but I was shocked to read that major league baseball has no policy regarding offenses related to drinking. Maybe I just haven't paid enough attention, but it seems like baseball players and alcohol have often been linked and some sort of policy would have developed.

How could baseball have missed major campaigns over the years led by groups like MADD that awakened the public to the dangers of drinking and driving and spurred the passage of tougher laws to combat the problem?

On second thought, maybe I shouldn't be surprised. After all, this is a sport that repeatedly denied it had heard about possible steroid use no matter how many newspaper articles were brought to its attention. Baseball executives even overlooked ballpark campaigns encouraging fans to not drink and drive.

Of course, the players association has a say in any punishment, as it should. But both sides should look at this issue and see that drunken driving is more dangerous than marijuana possession, for which players can be disciplined.

Even for their own public relations reasons, a fair policy can't be enacted soon enough.

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