Q: Why doesn’t MLB have an alcohol policy? Yo, Mr. Commish, ‘This, Bud, is for YOU!’


Bobby Valentine’s new Red Sox alcohol policy in response to the “Pitchers of Beer Brew Ha Ha” fiasco has raised a major issue for MLB and it is time that the $22 million Man to grow a pair and deal with it.

Mr. Commissioner! Can you hear me now?  ‘This, Bud, is for YOU’!

While we are not advocating any particular policy regarding controlling alcohol “on the job,” it is high time that the Commissioner establish a consistent, common sense, policy, before another player leaves the ballpark and drives into an innocent person.

While you were flying around in your MLB private plane Bud, since 2006, 19 of your owners took the issue seriously and, lacking guidance from you, responsibly implemented their own team policies.

Why do you allow the other 11 teams to operate without a common sense policy on alcohol in the clubhouse?

Before you give your next speech to MADD [Mothers Against Drunk Driving], why don’t you clean up your own house, Bud?  Ever watched Law and Order and heard the criminal charge of “depraved indifference” mentioned?  Look  it up!

The issue has now been joined by Rays’ manager, genial Joe Maddon, who takes issue with Valentine’s policy and sides with “T-Doh’s” Old School approach:

“All of this knee-jerk stuff that occurs in our game absolutely drives me crazy,” referring to Valentine’s new policy. “Give me a break. Let’s bring the Volstead Act back, OK? Let’s go right back to prohibition and start legislating everything all over again.”

Joe, we will stipulated that it wasn’t just the drinking during games by a few players that caused the total collapse of the Sox in September, but, are you saying you allow your players to party in the clubhouse, during games?  Really, Joe, really?

“Do we sell beer in the ballpark?” Maddon went on. “People who attend the games have a much greater chance of becoming drunk by the time they leave than a baseball player does. Most of the time if you have a beer after the game, it’s one, maybe two, and that’s it. I have a glass of wine. … There’s not a thing wrong with that.”

Point taken. One beer, or a glass of wine, after a game, so long as it leaves you under the legal limit, is reasonable. But, can you say that you know, if any of your players leave the clubhouse “over the limit” and headed for the parking lot?

To assist Bud in drafting his MLB policy, let’s define the “work day” for a ball player as the time between when he arrives in the clubhouse until the game that day is over. Bottom line: unless a player is in enough pain to receive medical attention from the trainer, he must be on the bench during games.

Once the game is over, have a beer in the clubhouse. Yaz was known to frequently sit in his director’s chair, facing his locker, and have a cold Miller after a game; until he had quaffed his single beer, he did not talk to the media.

One beer, after a game, is refreshing and might relax a player to deal with the frenetic frenzy of sports writers on a deadline. One beer will not put a player over the limit for operating a motor vehicle. If you want more than one beer for refreshment, have it off the premises, on your own time. With all the money being paid to the players and contracts that exclude certain “risky behaviors” to protect the team’s assets, limiting a player to one beer after a game seems reasonable.

“T. Doh” Francona promotes the Old School laissez faire attitude toward drinking, even allowing players to drink during a game in the clubhouse. No, it was not just the alcohol that caused the Sox to fall in the gutter in September; the “Pitchers of Beer” fiasco was symptomatic of a team without a manager on duty.

Francona was right, ‘boys will be boys,’ and that is why ‘men must be men’ and why some managers and many teams have intervened. Francona is a decent person and would be horrified if one of his players had “one too many” during a game and caused a death on Route 3, or 24, or on I-93.

In May of 2007, St. Louis Cardinals pitcher Josh Hancock reportedly had a few beers in the clubhouse, drank some more at a local restaurant, and was legally drunk when he was killed in a traffic accident that night. The Cardinals immediately issued an alcohol ban, and others followed suit.

As Bruce Jenkins, venerated baseball sage at the San Francisco Chronicle wrote today:

“The A’s, concerned over a drunken-driving charge levied upon pitcher Esteban Loaiza, became the first major-league team to issue such a ban in 2006. Nick Swisher had been very public in his desire to be a crazed party hound – he certainly wasn’t alone on the team – so Billy Beane brought down the hammer. As he said at the time, “You don’t tell the employees at Walmart to hit the kegger on the way out.” ”

Jenkins makes a distinction between behavior after home and away games:

“Most players drive to their home games, putting themselves at risk afterward if they take the wheel under the influence. On the road, players generally walk, take taxis or ride the team bus back to the hotel, and there’s an old-school philosophy that holds true today: From a bonding standpoint, it’s actually good news when a bunch of players stick around the clubhouse for an hour or so after road games, hashing out the game (or other issues) over a couple of beers. Better that than 25 guys heading into the night with separate agendas.”

Point taken, Mr. Jenkins, but, can we agree that no player should leave the clubhouse or baseball park “over the legal limit;” just as none of the rest of us should leave work drunk and dangerous. Would it be too invasive to require players to take a breathalyzer test before leaving the clubhouse or ballpark?

What about our privacy rights? Do they serve beer at your workplace? Do people at your job drink in the employees’ lounge? [the bosses do at lunch] Are your employers investing a minimum of $414,000 in you?

We will leave it to the lawyers, but would a team that allows one of its players to drink in the clubhouse be as liable as a bartender, or a host at a home party, for knowingly “over-serving” someone who gets in his car and kills innocent people?

Billy Beane has an opinion and a policy since 2006:

“The A’s, concerned over a drunken-driving charge levied upon pitcher Esteban Loaiza, became the first major-league team to issue such a ban in 2006. Nick Swisher had been very public in his desire to be a crazed party hound – he certainly wasn’t alone on the team – so Billy Beane brought down the hammer. As he said at the time, “You don’t tell the employees at Walmart to hit the kegger on the way out.” [Bruce Jenkins, SF Chronicle, 3/2/12]

Now, Bud, while you may be an exorbitantly over-paid [$22 million] lackey puppet of the team owners, and you are at least six years too late, like many of us, you have children and grandchildren and you would be horrified if one of your players left the clubhouse “over the limit” and caused the death of a child.

So, “in the best interests of the game,” we demand that you create and implement, post haste, a MLB policy for the responsible consumption of alcohol, and, since we love the game, here is the start of your first draft:

1. Collect the policies developed by 19 of your teams and read them.
2. Ban alcohol consumption by players during “the work day.” [The time between when he arrives in the clubhouse until the game that day is over.]
3. Require any player who drinks after a game to take a breath test before leaving the park.
4. Require any player who drinks during a team-paid flight to take a breath test before leaving the plane.
5. If a player fails to take a breath test and is convicted of a DUI on his way home, or to the hotel, he is fined and suspended for $[X} and [X] days.
6. Second incident of proven DUI, bigger fine and suspension.
7. Third DUI, during the same regular season, lifetime ban.
8. All fines collected put into the MLB foundation for alcohol rehabilitation.

There’s some free advice, Bud; try earning some of your $22 million; work out the details with your gang of lawyers and the Players’ Union; now get your ass in gear today, before a player gets drunk and kills someone.

And, one more thing, Bud, if you want to appear to respect the game and the fans who support it, make it a rule that, unless a player is in enough pain to receive medical attention from the trainer, he must be on the bench during games.

Trust me, Bud, it is “in the best interest of the game” to at least make it appear that players who are earning a minimum of $414,000, an average of $3 million and change a year, look like they care about their team, their city, and their fans.

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source of original image: http://blogs.ajc.com/jeff-schultz-blog/files/2010/05/bud-selig.jpg

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Tags: Alcohol Beer Beer Pitchers Billy Beane Bobby Valentine Breath Test Breathalizer Bud Selig Carl Yazstremski Commissioner Drunk Driving DUI Featured Joe Maddon Josh Hancock MLB Oakland A's Oakland Athletics Over The Limit Pitchers Of Beer Players Union Policy St. Louis Cardinals Yaz