Posted by: mdegeorge | May 6, 2011

MLB relying on beer googles for disciplinary action

The first month and change of the MLB season has had its fair share of problems. Diversity is down, attendance is down (as Darren Rovell will gleefully demonstrate). Perhaps the league’s biggest saving grace is that they’re not facing labor strife like two of its Big Four counterparts.

But off the field, the league has received a black eye in the personal conduct department with six big leaguers being collared for drunk driving arrests since the beginning of the calendar year.

Shin-Soo Choo. Courtesy of Creative Commons.

The highest profile arrest was Miguel Cabrera, the Tigers’ perennial All-Star and MVP candidate, whose arrest during spring training revealed a long-standing problem with alcohol that precipitated a stint in rehab.

The others have been lower profile players, but are perturbing for baseball fans nonetheless. Cleveland’s Austin Kearns was pulled over in February in his native Kentucky after “a couple bourbon and cokes”, though his mugshot would beg to differ as to the quantity. Within a week of that arrest, Oakland’s Coco Crisp was booked for DUI while the team was in spring training in Arizona.

Later in March, Seattle’s Adam Kennedy was pulled over and charged with two counts of DUI (which either means he has a doppelganger or he was really drunk). The star of the drunken stage last week was Atlanta pitcher Derek Lowe, who apologized after being pulled over for reckless driving in his Porsche. And this week, it was Indians outfielder Shin-Soo Choo’s turn to take the wheel after loading on twice the legal limit  of booze and comically flunking some field sobriety tests.

The fact that six big leaguers have been cited for suspicion of DUI is embarrassing; the fact that the penalties for them have been virtually non-existent is absolutely atrocious. Even leagues like the NBA and NFL that have long been plagued by stereotypical disciplinary problems have instituted personal conduct policies that provide a framework for punishment for these types of indiscretions.

It’s about time the MLB jumped on the common sense ship and started instituted some penalties. It’s hard to believe that the MLB is behind the curve on discipline. I guess as long as the general perception of the Majors as a clean-cut, white bread league with a significantly different racial composition than either of the other aforementioned leagues, they can get away with that.

But the ubiquity of these arrests has to be ringing alarm bells at the brain trust that is the commissioner’s office that changes have to be made very soon.

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