Posted April 18, 2013

Gallardo’s DUI raises issue of how MLB should handle these matters

Yovani Gallardo
Yovani Gallardo

AP

Yovani Gallardo will start for the Brewers against Matt Cain and the Giants this afternoon. On Monday, I picked that game as one of the best pitching matchups of the week, but in the wake of Gallardo’s arrest for drunk driving in the wee hours of Tuesday morning, I’m not sure that matchup should be happening at all.

There are two schools of thought on this issue, each recently expressed by colleagues I respect. Back on April 1, my Strike Zone partner Jay Jaffe included the following in his list of “20 ways to improve baseball right now:”

Suspend players for DUI and domestic abuse. In contrast to their progress on the PED front, baseball has done nothing to penalize far more dangerous and destructive behaviors such as driving under the influence of alcohol or abusing wives and girlfriends. The league may be content to let law enforcement handle such offenses, but it could have far more impact if it took additional action in such cases by suspending guilty players without pay for similar lengths of time as PED violators, and donating their salaries to programs oriented towards awareness, treatment and prevention.

Yesterday, over at The Platoon Advantage, my SB Nation colleague Bill Parker countered (indirectly) with this:

An employer has a right to be concerned about how its employees make it look in the community at large, but those employees have a competing right to have their employers stay the hell out of their personal lives, too. The judicial system exists to catch and punish things like DUIs; by and large, I don’t think it’s baseball’s responsibility to pile punishments on top of that (and you might think the judicial system isn’t harsh enough, particularly on professional athletes, but that’s not a problem that it’s baseball’s job to fix). I just don’t think a sport can go around meting out punishments for things that happen outside the sport.

Parker isn’t suggesting in any way that drunk driving isn’t a despicable act worthy of heavy punishment, he’s just saying that it’s the legal system’s job to hand down that punishment.

Parker makes a strong point. Having MLB act as morality police can be a slippery slope, and he does well to argue in favor of consistency by pointing out that if baseball doesn’t suspend players for drunk driving arrests, then it shouldn’t suspend them for other recreational drug use. For example, Astros prospect Jonathan Singleton smoked marijuana too close to a drug test and has to sit out the first 50 games of this season, one in which he was expected to make his major league debut, while Gallardo got behind the wheel while heavily intoxicated (his 0.22 blood-alcohol level was nearly three times the legal limit), but is pitching in the major leagues two days later. That’s an indefensible inconsistency, particularly when one considers that Gallardo’s actions were far more dangerous to himself and others.

Still, as Parker himself allows, there is something lacking in the legal system’s punishments as they pertain to multi-millionaire professional athletes. Gallardo, whose DUI was a first-offense, received a $778.80 fine plus 10 points on his license. The combined financial impact of those citations, once increased insurance premiums are factored in, would be devastating to some, myself included, but Gallardo will make $7.75 million this year, which, if he makes 33 starts as he did in each of the last two years, works out to nearly $235,000 per start. Simply suspending Gallardo long enough for him to miss one turn in the rotation would have a far greater impact on Gallardo both financially and in terms of accenting just how reckless his behavior was. It would also allow Baseball to hold its head higher in terms of being a model for the community, showing that it won’t simply turn a blind eye to the drunk driving that is all too common among its athletes (Todd Helton and Red Sox minor leaguer Drake Britton were both arrested for DUIs during spring training) and which claimed the lives of two of its players — Angels pitcher Nick Adenhart, killed by a drunk driver in 2009, and Cardinals pitcher Josh Hancock, who died in 2007 — in the last six years.

Encouragingly, public pressure seems to be building on this issue. Still, I’m reminded of the incident in late June 2006 in which the Phillies’ Brett Myers was arrested and accused of punching his wife in Boston. Myers took the mound on national television the next day, but outrage over the still-pending case prompted Myers to take a leave of absence through the All-Star break. Domestic abuse and drunk driving are not the same thing, but both are abhorrent,  illegal and occur with problematic frequency among professional baseball players, such that many, including Jaffe above, have lumped them together as off-field incidents for which baseball should show no tolerance. The outrage over Myers’ post-incident start and his subsequent leave of absence provided some hope that a precedent was being set for players to step away from the game, be it via a suspension or their own conscience, after an egregious off-field incident.

Sadly, as evidenced by Gallardo’s appearance this afternoon, that proved not to be the case.

33 comments
Wisconsin Death Trip
Wisconsin Death Trip

Let's get one thing clear.....THIS IS WISCONSIN! It's what we do best. The fact he's Hispanic (traditional drunk) has nothing to do with it people. Me personally...he's benched for 3 starts.

ezwriter69
ezwriter69

If you start from 0.0, a BAC of 2.2 will leave you comatose, not driving and functional. This dude drinks ALL the time, he's NEVER at 0.0 or anywhere close to it. Drunks walk around with a 1+ baseline, and this dude is a DRUNK.

TheGrandOldGame
TheGrandOldGame

First of all, people: know a troll when you see him. Figure it out. Don't respond to them. Why does anyone even need to tell you that? A troll doesn't care what you say, as long as you get mad. This is because anger and hate is better than no response at all; getting you mad gains them attention. They've told themselves that any attention they can get is better than pure silence. That's desperation, ignorance and insecurity. Leave it alone. 


Secondly: An employer, depending on the situation, may choose to punish an employee if their outside actions reflect poorly on the company. In this case, MLB said that they consider PEDs a suspension-worthy offense, but DUI is somewhat less so. Gallardo made a HUGE mistake getting behind the wheel, and put others at serious risk. Why should this even be a difficult call? 

Braves95
Braves95

First, the headline of this "article" is ridiculous. This DUI does not "raise 

 issue of how MLB should handle these matters." Far from it. I'm pretty sure Mr. Gallardo was not the only person in America pulled over for drunk driving. Maybe the only MLB player, but not the only person. We always discuss how pro athletes are treated differently. Well, in this case, he should be treated exactly the same as everyone else who was arrested for a DUI that night in accordance with the laws of his state, or the state he was visiting. Also, marijuana and alcohol are two completely different substances and viewed as such according to the law. A previous commenter was right. Mr. Gallardo has every right to work the job he paid to work, no matter what happened two nights ago. Personally, this is a sensationalistic article written to get people mad; not true journalism. This belongs on TMZ.

William27
William27

I would like to see the relatives of someone killed by a drunk driver have the opportunity right before he starts pitching at his next start to smash his skull in with a baseball bat. drunk drivers don't deserve to live. they didn't give their victims the chance to live.

Whatever
Whatever

The problem with suspending a player for DUI before the legal process has concluded is that it could violate his rights under his contract. Your analogy between drinking a legal substance (granted, DUI is illegal, but not the consumption) and smoking an illegal drug (at least in most states) is ridiculous. The former is not tested as a banned substance under MLB's controlled substance policy, the latter is.

Finally, the punishment leveled by courts are not made up by the judge. They are most often set forth in statutory codes, and the punishments increase with subsequent convictions. Aggravating circumstances can add more punishments and crimes from the same incident (e.g., DUI and resisting arrest), but our legal system is supposed to treat everyone equally, not the rich different from the poor.

ddoss11
ddoss11

Dear Sir, Mr. Cliff Corcoran,


You sir are an idiot!  While i'm not condoning or trying to make an excuse for this man, he is entitled to live his life.  The man made a poor judgement while drinking, thus drunk driving. Pitching is his job.....and therefore it was his turn to pitch so he should do his job as he is paid to do so.  If you got a DUI, should you not be allowed to write your pathetic column?  It must be so nice to be so high and mighty and take cheap shots at everyone while you're so perfect.    Get a life or at least try to write a real story!

JERK!

BryanCustard
BryanCustard

@ezwriter69 considering that 2.2 would make his blood 220% alcohol, yea he would probably be dead. the number you were looking for is .22 or a baseline of .1+

Reva P
Reva P

@Braves95 There are private employers who would at least suspend an employee who was charged with a DUI or with domestic abuse.  In some jurisdictions, there are apartment buildings that have the right to evict anyone, with just 24-hour notice, if that individual is accused of domestic abuse.  Why should MLB, or any sport, not have such a policy?

Professional athletes are very much in the public eye.  Yes, they have private lives, too, but they are seen by so many as role models.  Given that, why should an athlete who has been charged with either offence be allowed to continue to compete, a lack of actions that says to those who admire them that "it's OK to drink and drive or to beat your partner or child".  That's the single biggest reason that you are wrong.

Don't forget aht the principle here is that the emperor's wife must not only be abouve suspicion, but she must be seen to be above suspicion.  It's the same principle.

BlackSession1
BlackSession1

@Braves95 Many people lose their jobs when their employers find out they've convicted of DUI - it happens quite often. I don't think MLB should be involved, specifically, but I could see each team handling these things personally. He represents the Milwaukee Brewers even when he's not pitching - they should be able to punish him as they see fit. And then there's the whole problem with the fact that the sport itself is fueled by alcohol dollars and he plays on a team named after the process of making beer. Hah.

William27
William27

@Braves95  

your reasoning is stupid. I hold high paid athletes accountable for killing people

JoeCabot
JoeCabot

@William27 So someone who hurt absolutely no one deserves to be beaten to death?   In your absurdly violent world, there would undoubtedly be a severe penalty given to folks like you who encourage deadly assault on others, would there not?

William27
William27

@Whatever 

dumb stuff

 MLB should SLAM anyone caught drunk driving and throw them in a mexican prison

William27
William27

@ddoss11 

dumb stuff

 MLB should SLAM anyone caught drunk driving and throw them in a mexican prison

JoeCabot
JoeCabot

@William27Who did Yovani Gallardo kill?  Some folks in law enforcement may be interested in your inside info.

Braves95
Braves95

@William27 @Braves95 

The reasoning isn't stupid. I hold anyone who kills accountable for killing people; not just high paid athletes; low paid athletes and flag football buddies as well.

There are laws that all citizens of our country, no matter what your pay grade is,  must abide by. When someone breaks that law AND IS CAUGHT, which is the important qualifier, then the law will handle them. The article has nothing to do with wether or not Gallardo should be beaten to death, as you are more then willing to assist with, but wether he should be allowed to do the job he is paid to do. 

Is drunk driving hazardous and stupid? Absolutely. The punishment for it was dealt. Did he kill someone? No. So there is no need to bludgeon him. A man with the potential to kill is not a killer. 

halconblanco
halconblanco

@William27 @Whatever And here is where the bigotry surfaces! Bigotry and racism, those have nothing to do with DUI. Players who commit those faults should be punished like anyone else. If the owners care, they should write something about it in the contracts, like including a taxi for drinking nights!

JoeCabot
JoeCabot

@William27 Fortunately we have a justice system in this country that was created to avoid having lives put in the hands of you and your ilk.

ezwriter69
ezwriter69

@Braves95 @William27 Not stupid, just justifying and minimizing the behavior of drunk driving. MLB has every right to discipline him, or outright fire him. Your boss could do the same the next time you drive drunk, which I'm guessing will be Friday night.

JoeCabot
JoeCabot

@William27 I am not condoning drunk driving, but you absurd idea about beating people to death does nothing but out you as being a bit close to the ledge.

Reva P
Reva P

@halconblanco @William27 @Whatever Although I'd prefer that clauses such as that are a part of the CBA.

Early in the Diamondbacks' history, their owner would not tolerate domestic violence complaints.  If a player was charged with such abuse, he was released immediately.  I don't remember (offhand) if there were grievances filed or not.

JoeCabot
JoeCabot

@William27 Billy,  you are failing to comprehend.  I have stated several times that I am not condoning drunk driving.   Take some time to read before you warm up your typing finger and start yelling at me.  However, your theories of using baseball bats and mexican jails is a bit far-fetched.  Possibly not in your world, but back here in reality it just ain't happening.

JoeCabot
JoeCabot

@William27 You even signed your post this time.  Nice touch.  As noted in one of my posts above, I am not condoning drunk driving.  I am simply taking a few shots at you and your wild west mentality.  You will appreciate our system of justice if you ever get falsely accused of a crime.

William27
William27

all the people killed by drunk drivers are so happy with your opinion

idiot