Colin Dunlap: MLB Should Be Tougher Against DUIs
Milwaukee Brewers pitcher Yovani Gallardo was arrested in the wee hours of Tuesday morning for driving with a blood alcohol content of 0.22.
Milwaukee Brewers pitcher Yovani Gallardo will make his scheduled start Thursday against the San Francisco Giants.
Simple as that.
No true penalty.
No suspension from his team.
No fine from Major League Baseball.
Ain’t it grand to be a ballplayer, huh?
Ain’t it grand to be Gallardo, a guy who makes $7.75M this season and signed a five-year, $30M contract extension during the 2010 season?
Under Major League Baseball’s collective bargaining agreement with the players’ union, it’s mandatory that a player charged with DUI or off-field violent transgressions be referred to a treatment board, which establishes and then supervises an individualized treatment program.
And that’s where the mandated consequence ends.
Here’s how the treatment program, in my estimation, should start with Major League Baseball players who decide to drive a vehicle around with a blood alcohol content that matches the batting average of a No. 8 hitter in the lineup — with a 10-day suspension. At least.
There simply isn’t any other way to put it; this isn’t some game. It isn’t that baseball needs a wakeup call, but Major League Baseball has had wakeup calls and still never punishes drunk driving offenders.
Case in point, was the drunk driving death of St. Louis Cardinals pitcher Josh Hancock in 2007 not enough for Major League Baseball to start imposing true penalties when ballplayers decide to drive impaired?
How about the trials and tribulations of former No. 1 overall pick Matt Bush?
In March of 2012, he stole the SUV of a teammate during Spring Training, went on a drunken binge and, when it was all over, had managed to run over the head of a 72-year-old motorcyclist in Port Charlotte, Fla.
Was that enough of a wakeup call to start suspending ballplayers after DUI offenses? Apparently not.
Neither was another huge, alcohol-meets-driver blow to Major League Baseball; this one where the ballplayer became the victim.
In April of 2009, Angels pitcher Nick Adenhart — just hours after taking the mound as the starting pitcher in a game — was killed, along with two others, as his car was struck by a drunk driver.
Not enough to force baseball to suspend guys who want to get cranked up and get behind the wheel, huh?
What an embarrassment.
This problem has hit the Pirates as well, when former utilityman Yamaico Navarro got pinched for a DUI while in Indianapolis last July. Navarro is just one in a list of players over the past three seasons to get arrested for driving under the influence, joining, among others, Coco Crisp, Austin Kearns, Bobby Jenks, Miguel Cabrera, Derek Lowe, Todd Helton and Shin-Soo Choo.
And what do all of those men also have in common? None were disciplined by Major League Baseball. No, they simply showed back up to work like nothing happened, took the field with no ramifications other than that cursory meeting with a clinician.
Remember, this is the same league that saw fit to suspend former pitcher Kenny Rogers — playing for the Texas Rangers at the time — 20 games and fine him $50,000 for pushing a couple cameramen in 2005. His penalty was subsequently pared down to 13 games and his fine reallocated into a charitable donation.
Nonetheless, Rogers was made to miss 13 games for pushing another human who was holding a camera and saw him coming; none of those aforementioned gentlemen who were driving a car drunk — with potential victims who might never see them coming — were made to pay any penance.
Nor will Gallardo.
According to a report from the Associated Press, it will cost Gallardo about $800 to square away this DUI, a first-time offense for him.
It would be nice and tidy to say something such as, “it’s going to take one of their own getting killed for Major League Baseball to get tough on players driving drunk.”
Just one problem — people have already died and baseball hasn’t done a damn thing about it.
Former Pittsburgh Post-Gazette Sports Writer Colin Dunlap is the featured columnist at CBSPittsburgh.com. He can also be heard weeknights from 10 p.m. -2 a.m. on Sports Radio 93-7 “The Fan.” You can e-mail him at firstname.lastname@example.org.