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Monday, January 21, 2013

Murray Chass on Sports: TIME TO CHANGE SUBJECT TO ALCOHOL

, MR. PRESIDENTE

Nearly two weeks later the debate rages on over the outcome of the Hall of Fame voting. It has dominated baseball’s off-season. Even the Hall of Famers themselves, elected by the writers in a less controversial, less contentious, time, have added their views.

But as the all-steroids, all-the-time discussion has gone on, it has prompted a long-nagging question in my mind: why steroids and not alcohol?

Asked that question, baseball people usually give the simple answer: alcohol is legal, steroids are not. Or they might add: alcohol doesn’t enhance performance; steroids do.

...Fisk and Grace, of course, are retired players no longer subject to the authority of the baseball commissioner. But there are enough DUI subjects still in baseball to wonder what’s going on: Miguel Cabrera, Coco Crisp, Derek Lowe, Austin Kearns, Adam Kennedy, Shin-Soo Choo, Michael Pineda, Bobby Jenks, Joba Chamberlain, Cristhian Martinez, Alex White and assorted minor leaguers.

“You’re right; we focus on steroids and amphetamines, which have been around for 100 years,” Commissioner Bud Selig said in a telephone interview in response to a statement I made about alcohol. “But alcohol is a very serious situation. I’m very sensitive about that.”

Repoz Posted: January 21, 2013 at 08:36 AM | 43 comment(s) Login to Bookmark
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   1. Ok, Griffey's Dunn (Nothing Iffey About Griffey) Posted: January 21, 2013 at 09:00 AM (#4351664)
You just stood there screaming,
Fearing no one was listening to you.
They say the empty can rattles the most.
The sound of your own voice must soothe you,
Hearing only what you want to hear,
And knowing only what you've heard.
You, you're smothered in tragedy,
And you're out to save the world.

   2. John Northey Posted: January 21, 2013 at 09:43 AM (#4351673)
If I ran a team which would concern me more regarding a player...
1) he is using drugs to push his performance up higher
2) he is drinking thus pushing it lower
3) he is driving drunk, thus higher odds of dying or being seriously hurt
4) he is gambling on the games

#1 is the one that the media feels is the worst offense of the group, yet it is also the only one of those that would actually IMPROVE how the player does while the others could either (in order) hurt their play, end their career, or lead to them throwing games. If I ran a team pre-testing #1 would be the obvious one I'd want them doing. Post-testing #1 now carries a big 50 game penalty (1st offense) thus an incentive to not do it. But suppose a chemist came up with something that isn't tested for - as a team owner would you want your players using it or not?
   3. CrosbyBird Posted: January 21, 2013 at 09:53 AM (#4351676)
For a team, I think the order is probably #4, #1, #3, #2. (Lifetime ban, suspension, arrest/PR hit, performance issue.) Without any external penalties, it would probably be #2, #4, and #3 (worst to least worst) with #1 being desirable.

I don't know that #1 is worse than #4 for the media in some sort of monolithic sense. We haven't really had a gambling issue in baseball in a long time, but there are plenty of writers who still absolutely hate Pete Rose.
   4. Dale Sams Posted: January 21, 2013 at 10:16 AM (#4351682)
Bobby Jenks is still in baseball?
   5. Greasy Neale Heaton (Dan Lee) Posted: January 21, 2013 at 11:09 AM (#4351701)
HE RETIRED AFTER BACK SURGERY NEARLY KILLED HIM, MR. PRESIDENT.
   6. BeanoCook Posted: January 21, 2013 at 11:10 AM (#4351703)
Tired of the prudes in America.
   7. Greasy Neale Heaton (Dan Lee) Posted: January 21, 2013 at 11:13 AM (#4351705)
I should probably clarify: I don't know that Jenks has formally announced his retirement, but he didn't pitch professionally in 2012 and I haven't seen any evidence he intends to pitch in 2013.
   8. JJ1986 Posted: January 21, 2013 at 11:14 AM (#4351707)
I think Jenks was on a roster (either the Sox 60-day DL or the restricted list) for most of last season.
   9. Greasy Neale Heaton (Dan Lee) Posted: January 21, 2013 at 11:16 AM (#4351710)
The Sox released him in early July, FWIW.
   10. Tim D Posted: January 21, 2013 at 11:30 AM (#4351716)
Newsflash: There are alcoholics and/or heavy drinkers in baseball. Chass gets paid for this?
   11. Posada Posse Posted: January 21, 2013 at 11:41 AM (#4351721)
Let's get Babe Ruth, Jimmie Foxx, Pete Alexander, Rube Waddell and Hack Wilson, among many others, out of the Hall!
   12. The District Attorney Posted: January 21, 2013 at 11:49 AM (#4351723)
Murray Chass on Sports: TIME TO CHANGE SUBJECT TO ALCOHOL
... and away from Stan Musial
   13. #6bid is partially elite Posted: January 21, 2013 at 11:51 AM (#4351725)
TIME TO CHANGE SUBJECT TO ALCOHOL wouldn't be the worst BBTF handle ever.
   14. Steve Parris, Je t'aime Posted: January 21, 2013 at 11:57 AM (#4351729)
The Commissioner gives interviews to bloggers?
   15. Bob Tufts Posted: January 21, 2013 at 01:10 PM (#4351774)
In an interview given at Miller Park while on his way to Busch Stadium, Selig said, "alcohol is a very serious situation. I’m very sensitive about that.”

I never lost someone that I knew due to an accident involving steroids.

   16. Bourbon Samurai in Asia Posted: January 21, 2013 at 01:11 PM (#4351775)
BUY ME A DRINK, MR. PRESIDENT!
   17. BrianBrianson Posted: January 21, 2013 at 01:25 PM (#4351788)
This is why we must always defend steroid users. Because after they've ostracized them, they'll be coming for us drunks.
   18. smileyy Posted: January 21, 2013 at 01:35 PM (#4351794)
We haven't really had a gambling issue in baseball in a long time, but there are plenty of writers who still absolutely hate Pete Rose.


This is hard to gauge, because since his expulsion, Pete Rose has been pretty much as media-pathic as possible. There's no story involving Pete Rose that leaves the reader with a more positive impression of Pete Rose.
   19. Morty Causa Posted: January 21, 2013 at 01:41 PM (#4351800)
And each occasion leaves one with the sense that only a high-pressure washer will remove the taint of scum and mold from one's body.
   20. BDC Posted: January 21, 2013 at 02:01 PM (#4351820)
TIME TO CHANGE SUBJECT TO ALCOHOL


Oh dear, when is it not?

   21. GotowarMissAgnes Posted: January 21, 2013 at 03:07 PM (#4351875)
Now, that's change I can believe in.
   22. DanG Posted: January 21, 2013 at 03:35 PM (#4351898)
Asked that any question, baseball people usually give the simple answer
FTFY
   23. thetailor Posted: January 21, 2013 at 04:49 PM (#4351974)
I love Chass-bashing as much as the next guy, but if you TFA you'll see that's not that unreasonable. Of course, it's a long ramble with no discernable thesis or conclusion, but I'm ok with someone who wants to talk about steroids less or at least put them in context.
   24. JJ1986 Posted: January 21, 2013 at 04:59 PM (#4351984)
I love Chass-bashing as much as the next guy, but if you TFA you'll see that's not that unreasonable. Of course, it's a long ramble with no discernable thesis or conclusion, but I'm ok with someone who wants to talk about steroids less or at least put them in context.


Of course Murray was just obsessing about steroids two weeks ago.
   25. Joey Numbaz (Scruff) Posted: January 21, 2013 at 06:19 PM (#4352051)
Has anyone ever shown that professional athletes have a higher DWI rate the general population of 21-35 year olds? I'd be shocked if they do. This whole movement is ridiculous. Sure you want to reduce drunk driving, but acting like a sports franchise needs to take any further action than any other employer (which is usually none) is ridiculous.
   26. Walt Davis Posted: January 21, 2013 at 08:27 PM (#4352164)
Newsflash: There are alcoholics and/or heavy drinkers in baseball. Chass gets paid for this?

Well, no he doesn't get paid for this as near as I can tell, certainly not very much.

I don't click through to Chass since the Musial debacle but the issue of alcohol (and tobacco) is relevant in that one of the arguments often put forward for banning PEDs is the health risk they pose to players. But the health risk of alcohol and tobacco dwarf that but MLB has done very little beyond mild "public health" campaigns. In fact, in terms of baseball, why is recreational drug use treated more seriously than those two.

But, yes, that just makes it reasonably clear that player health is not a driving factor for banning PEDs (it's pretty much just sanctimony) but there are rather obvious reasons to treat PEDs differently than alcohol when it comes to performance.

And at least he's being kinda consistent since he took after Raines for coke use a couple of weeks ago.

Of course Murray was just obsessing about steroids two weeks ago.

Not necessarily. Murray obsesses about the HoF process. He's one of the guys who didn't want Rose banned because he felt it was the BBWAA's responsibility to show Rose what they thought of him. His "protest", such as it is, seems in reaction to a lack of guidance from the HoF as to how they want these guys dealt with. Remember, he says that after 2014 he won't vote not that he'll return a blank ballot every year (which would hurt the roiders). I think this is his way of declaring a pox on all houses. In his mind, baseball doesn't deserve Murray Chass anymore.

His anti-Raines (and supposed anti-Molitor) stance makes it pretty clear he wouldn't vote for a PED user though. But then he only votes for the true greats like Morris anyway.
   27. bobm Posted: January 21, 2013 at 09:06 PM (#4352191)
In an interview given at Miller Park while on his way to Busch Stadium, Selig said, "alcohol is a very serious situation. I’m very sensitive about that.”


Of course Bud did
   28. smileyy Posted: January 21, 2013 at 10:31 PM (#4352227)
Sure you want to reduce drunk driving, but acting like a sports franchise needs to take any further action than any other employer (which is usually none) is ridiculous.


I suspect lots of employers who end work around 11PM or so, and have beer sitting freely around the workplace would want to take action about DWI.
   29. Joey Numbaz (Scruff) Posted: January 22, 2013 at 12:15 AM (#4352309)
I know several people who have gotten DWIs. They were young and dumb and genuinely sorry and changed their behavior going forward.

Not one had any issue at all in terms of their employment. The legal system takes care of these things. Employers should not only stay out of it, they should be forced to stay out of it by law (to protect employees), unless the action takes place on work time (as a performance issue) or in a work owned vehicle.

Saying teams or the league should take any action is patently ridiculous. Saying this is an epidemic unique to sports is highly questionable - again, I'd like the see the data that shows professional athletes have a higher DWI rate the general population of 21-35 year olds. I'm guessing this doesn't exist.
   30. Crispix reaches boiling point with lackluster play Posted: January 22, 2013 at 12:29 AM (#4352314)
I know several people who have gotten DWIs. They were young and dumb and genuinely sorry and changed their behavior going forward.

Not one had any issue at all in terms of their employment


Interesting that no employer is concerned with employees' reckless and unlawful drunkenness, in a world where employers are regularly monitoring employees' bodily fluids for evidence of other unlawful drug use.
   31. smileyy Posted: January 22, 2013 at 12:30 AM (#4352317)
So you're really saying that employers should do nothing to try to prevent DWIs in a game that has a well-known culture of drinking after games?

And that we should wait for young dumb people to get DWIs in order to prevent them in the future?
   32. Bob Tufts Posted: January 22, 2013 at 09:43 AM (#4352391)
Just to see if anyone is paying attention....

Within a minute last night I talked in order to Murray Chass and Joe Morgan at the Marvin Miller memorial service at NYU. But I avoided Bill Madden and Marty Noble.
   33. Bourbon Samurai in Asia Posted: January 22, 2013 at 09:50 AM (#4352392)
I hope you spoke to Murray in all caps.
   34. Joey Numbaz (Scruff) Posted: January 23, 2013 at 02:18 PM (#4353436)
So you're really saying that employers should do nothing to try to prevent DWIs in a game that has a well-known culture of drinking after games?

And that we should wait for young dumb people to get DWIs in order to prevent them in the future?


Sure, they can do things to prevent them. It's their prerogative to not serve alcohol in the clubhouse, for example.

But employers have no business disciplining employees for things they do in their personal lives. We have a legal system that deals with that. This is not a difficult concept.
   35. Joey Numbaz (Scruff) Posted: January 23, 2013 at 02:19 PM (#4353442)
Interesting that no employer is concerned with employees' reckless and unlawful drunkenness, in a world where employers are regularly monitoring employees' bodily fluids for evidence of other unlawful drug use.


No one is saying they aren't concerned with it. But if it doesn't impact their work, employers have no business getting involved in employees personal lives. And I don't know too many employers that regularly monitor employee's bodily fluids for unlawful drugs. Most people get a urine test done during the hiring process and are never checked again.
   36. Nasty Nate Posted: January 23, 2013 at 02:31 PM (#4353453)
So you're really saying that employers should do nothing to try to prevent DWIs in a game that has a well-known culture of drinking after games?


Quite a few lines of work have a well-known culture of drinking after work.
   37. villageidiom Posted: January 23, 2013 at 02:37 PM (#4353460)
But employers have no business disciplining employees for things they do in their personal lives. We have a legal system that deals with that. This is not a difficult concept.
You're offering a generalization in response to a specific case, so you might not care to argue the merits of the generalization. But would you think a person who is found guilty of embezzling funds from their kid's school's PTA account should be let go from their job at a financial services company? A mafia man, as police chief? A pedophile, as pastor?

I'd think that there are plenty of cases where an employer has a duty to its customers, its employees, and its owners to make sure trust is maintained, and what employees do in their spare time can hinder, if not destroy, that trust.
   38. smileyy Posted: January 23, 2013 at 02:44 PM (#4353470)

Quite a few lines of work have a well-known culture of drinking after work.


And in the workplace as well, I'm sure. I'm also sure that their lawyers are *($#-scared about liability. Or they should be.

But employers have no business disciplining employees for things they do in their personal lives. We have a legal system that deals with that. This is not a difficult concept.


Its not so cut-and-dried as this. Being a public figure like a baseball player means a lot more of your personal life reflects on your employer. Enough "reflection" and your business starts becoming less successful.
   39. Morty Causa Posted: January 23, 2013 at 04:25 PM (#4353547)
Well, ask the libertarians. I think the traditional stance of theirs and conservatives is that employers can demand what they will of employees. The employee doesn't like it, he moves on down the line. But, it is all up to the employer. The employee's only recourse is to quit and find work elsewhere that won't demand of him what he don't like (good luck).
   40. Zach Posted: January 23, 2013 at 05:18 PM (#4353609)
I had a housemate who really screwed up his life with a DUI. He was on track to be an air force pilot, where a DUI is basically a career ender. They told him not to bother.

I felt a little bad at the time (still do, honestly), because I had noticed that the drinking was getting a little bit ahead of him and didn't say anything. He wasn't an alcoholic or anything, he just got in the habit of getting more drunk than he ought to more often than he ought to. Like Joe Dimino says, he was young and genuinely remorseful, and cut it out once he realized it was a problem. That's an expensive way to learn a lesson, though.
   41. Zach Posted: January 23, 2013 at 05:29 PM (#4353624)
Regarding post #2, I would say that all four scenarios are moral failures, but only #1 and #4 are baseball failures. If you're in the business of selling baseball to the general public, you have a vested interest in persuading the public that baseball is an activity worthy of their money and attention. You can get away with a certain amount of cheating, but not so much as to raise legitimate doubts about whether the sport is worthy of their interest.

The danger of the steroid era was that people would start to think that it was all a sham. Alcohol is worse for society as a whole than steroids, but neutral in its effects on baseball. If players started getting so conspicuously and publicly drunk as to call the legitimacy of the game into question (drunk on the field, say), then you bet there would be repercussions.
   42. Jack Carter, calling Beleaguered Castle Posted: January 23, 2013 at 06:37 PM (#4353686)
Has anyone ever shown that professional athletes have a higher DWI rate the general population of 21-35 year olds? I'd be shocked if they do.


Yup. I'd also be surprised if any cohort that worked out regularly, and had very physical jobs that all but demanded peak condition, would have a DWI rate particularly close to the rate for the general population of the same age.

This whole movement is ridiculous. Sure you want to reduce drunk driving, but acting like a sports franchise needs to take any further action than any other employer (which is usually none) is ridiculous.


Yup. It's absurd. It's 'let's poke into peoples lives because... WE CAN!!'
   43. The Chronicles of Reddick Posted: January 23, 2013 at 07:59 PM (#4353742)
I wonder if he will cover athletes and guns in his next column on his way through his version of "Seven".

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