If any of the University of North Carolina Tarheels hits the majors, or if any of the Durham Bulls makes it up to The Show, they may have to deal with a new alcohol policy. Major League Baseball and the players union have added an alcohol policy to the long list of subjects they’ll tackle during negotiations this year. While there’s always been a concern, the fact that players seem to be racking up DWI arrests may have added a sense of urgency to the issue.
The most recent arrest was an outfielder for the American League’s Indians. He was able to travel with the team after his DWI on Monday and was included in the lineup for the team’s Tuesday game. He did apologize to both the organization and the fans.
That was the sixth incident involving a major league player this year. The players don’t seem to be concentrated in any part of the country, either — though the American League is definitely ahead, with five of the six cases, including the most recent.
The league currently has no program in place for alcohol-related offenses. The closest existing policy is the drug policy; it covers “drugs of abuse,” like cocaine and marijuana, and makes no mention of alcohol. Teams, however, have their own policies regarding drinking on team flights and in clubhouses. Two teams have banned alcohol in both home and visiting clubhouses.
Players and management have discussed some alternatives for the new policy. One suggestion involves mandatory enrollment in a counseling program for first-time DWI offenders.
Baseball veterans admit that times have changed. The days of drinking beer and talking baseball all night after a game are over. Still, few believe that the DWIs are the result of an increase in players’ drinking. “It’s just that things are more documented, more scrutinized,” said one (American League) player.
Most of the teams updated their policies after the 2007 death of a St. Louis pitcher. He was legally drunk when he smashed into a parked tow truck.
Source: USA Today, “MLB, players union talk about creating alcohol policy,” Bob Nightengale, 05/05/11