Alcohol and baseball: A dangerous combination

Austin Kearns of the Cleveland Indians was pulled over on a drunk driving charge in Kentucky. Miguel Cabrera of the Detroit Tigers was picked up in Florida for alleged DUI. And on Tuesday night this week, Coco Crisp of the Oakland Athletics was picked up on DUI and other charges in Arizona.

This has not been auspicious start to the year for Major League Baseball, a reminder that the intersection of athletes and alcohol can cause  not just mischief but anguish and even death.

In 1993, tragedy struck the Cleveland Indians as pitchers Tim Crews and Steve Olin were killed when the boat they were in rammed a pier in Florida. Crews, who was piloting the boat, was  drunk.

Ballplayers have also been victims of drunk drivers, most notably in recent times pitcher Nick Adenhart of the Angels, who was killed in April 2009 when the vehicle he was riding in was rammed by a drunk driver. The driver was sentenced to a long prison term in December.

As fans, we tend to put athletes in a special class immune from typical human foibles. But ball players and other athletes are as human as you or I, susceptible to the same pressures and demons that trigger alcoholism or drug use or any number of risky behaviors.

The players arrested this year have a number of hurdles to face in the legal system, and it would be inappropriate to comment on their individual cases when I don’t know the facts.

I will say that I hope their teams and Major League Baseball help them get whatever professional help they might need. Pro athletes are not supermen. They are all too human.

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3 responses to “Alcohol and baseball: A dangerous combination

  1. Well said, my friend. Alcohol and baseball go way back together. Ed Delahanty may have been drunk when he either fell or jumped to his death off a train over a hundred years ago. And Grover Cleveland Alexander died an alcoholic.

  2. It is truly unfortunate the way our culture elevates professional athletes. I agree with your hope the teams and MLB will help them. They could then serve as a model for everyday individuals struggling with these issues. One of New York baseball’s 1950s big 3 outfielders, Mickey Mantle, was an alcoholic.

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