Milwaukee's Yovani Gallardo is the latest MLB player to be involved in a DUI. MLB's policies around such incidents are highly lacking. (Image Credit: Benny Sieu-USA TODAY Sports)

MLB's Real Image Problem


Editor’s Note: Alex Pugliese is an unapologetic New Yorker and obsessed Yankee fan who has been a part of our team at Yanks Go Yard since last August. She joins us here at CttP today, with the following guest submission. You can follow Alex’s writing and the rest of the YGY team here.

There’s almost nothing that I don’t like about baseball. It runs like a well-oiled machine. There’s been no labor disputes for almost two decades, something all of the other major leagues cannot claim; there’s a huge increase in competitive balance as a result of television deals providing cash, resulting in some smaller market teams having great success; the game has a surge in young stars like Mike Trout and Bryce Harper and Matt Harvey that are fun and exciting to watch during even the most routine of plays. But there is one area where baseball is sorely lack, and one that it should be absolutely positive ashamed of: the hypocrisy in the way MLB deals with, or rather, does not deal with players who receive DUIs.

Last week, the Brewers’ Yovani Gallardo was arrested for DUI, and blew a .22 blood alcohol reading (BAC). That number is nearly three times the legal limit. Gallardo was arrested on Tuesday. He pitched, without any disciplinary action from MLB, or the Brewers, on Thursday. As reported on Yahoo! Sports, the total amount of fines that Gallardo will pay related to his DUI: $778. Based on his $7.75 million deal, divided by 33, the number of starts made in 2011 and 2012, Gallardo made $235,000 in that start. Two days later.

Gallardo is not the only player to have had no disciplinary action from MLB for a DUI-related offense: Miguel Cabrera, Austin Kearns, Coco Crisp, Shin-Soo Choo, Derek Lowe, Adam Kennedy. All of them. Lest we forget, while these gentleman chose to get behind the wheel and drive drunk, one of their own, Nick Adenhart, was killed after the vehicle he was in was struck by a drunk driver in 2009.

I am willing to admit that people make stupid mistakes. The fact that they are ballplayers does not mean that they are exempt from that general rule. However, I do find it just as hard to have sympathy for them as I do for any other person arrested for such behavior. I find it even more difficult when I am sure that if a phone call was made- to an agent, a team rep, a general manager, the MLBPA offices, someone in baseball- a car service would have been made available to the player, free of charge, by sheer nature of the fact that he is a Major League Baseball player. And that supposition completely ignores the idea that they could call a friend, family, a cab. Anything. These men have absolutely zero excuse for driving drunk. None.

Legally, these men will and/or have already been prosecuted for their behavior. They will have paid fines and attorney’s fees. Maybe they had to serve some community service, or some sort of outreach program involved with MLB.

MLB has no problem hurling out 50 game suspensions like candy for a first-time use of performance-enhancing drugs (and in the case of Melky Cabrera, sheer stupidity). It has no problem using every available resource to scour a strip mall “medical” office in Miami for evidence that the stars of the game have been doping. Fans stand at the ready to burn the reputation of players like Ryan Braun and Mike Piazza and Alex Rodriguez for failed tests, or rumors, or unverified ties to PEDs. Correct me if I’m wrong, but the last time I check, PEDs, when taken, wouldn’t result in anyone’s death if the user got behind the wheel of a car.

MLB is concerned about PED use because it tarnishes the reputation of the game. The players, the stars, are what make them game special. It has almost nothing to do with the game itself- which is slower than its professional peers, antiquated in its lack of game-enhancing technology (hello, replay!), and is somewhat over-saturated by 162 games, plus a month of Spring Training and the playoffs. MLB is willing to do whatever it takes to make the game as clean as possible. Terrific. But maybe MLB should get more involved with more pertinent issues.

MLB should take just as much action against players who have driven drunk. This is an issue that is even more important than PEDs. It is one that goes beyond the game, but rather towards the core of responsible human behavior, in the ballpark, on the diamond, or outside of it. MLB should invest half as much energy into caring and acting when players are arrested for DUIs. For every angry tweet, newspaper article or blog post about PED use, there should be three decrying MLB’s lack of action on DUIs. PEDs are an image problem. But lack of MLB’s shameful lack of a stance on DUIs is a much, much bigger on.

Tags: Milwaukee Brewers Yovani Gallardo