cop dui

MLB players get arrested for DUI at a way lower rate than the general population


Every time a ballplayer or coach gets arrested for drunk driving you can bet that we here at HBT are gonna have a post or three about it. Especially if there’s a good mugshot.

You can also bet that, rather than merely post it and say “hey look what happened,” we (usually I) am going to offer several sentences about how bad it is and how baseball should do something about it. And later, when someone gets disciplined for some ticky-tack thing, we (usually I) am going to offer several sentences about how bad it is that baseball will do something about the ticky-tack thing and not punish ballplayers for the DUI stuff. All of these posts will be sprinkled with some sanctimony too because that’s how we (I) often roll.

But Jon Bois of SB Nation did some research and, guess what? Baseball players are arrested for DUI at rates far lower than that of the general population:

 NFL players are no worse about it than the average American, and NBA and MLB players, in fact, are significantly better about it. And as for hockey: I was unable to find a single NHL player who was arrested for intoxicated driving over the last 365 days.

One baseball player out of 433 was arrested for DUI in the past year compared to one in 149 licensed drivers. For the NFL it was one in 160. For the NBA it was one in 237.5. No hockey players were arrested for DUI in the past year.

Jon takes this data — which is obviously too skewed sample size-wise to be truly scientific even if it is instructive — and asks some good questions about it which you should go read.  My takeaways:

  • Having been guilty of throwing the word “epidemic” around when these things have come up in the past, I officially stand corrected as far as any claim, implicit or otherwise, that ballplayers are worse about drunk driving than the general public. Again, this isn’t the most scientific study ever, but it’s good enough that any claim that they are worse is not entitled to any presumption of validity. That said:
  • Just because the DUI rates aren’t bad as far as those things go does not minimize the seriousness of drunk driving in baseball at all, nor should anyone dismiss concerns about it merely by reference to the numbers.

The ideal number of drunk driving ballplayers would be zero, and while ballplayers as a group should be applauded for their overall responsibility, it does not mean that baseball should not consider the matter something to be addressed, via post-hoc discipline or some other means.

I say this because any institution should strive to keep its own house in order by any reasonable means at its disposal, and when a guy gets more discipline for tweeting than he does for drunk driving, one doesn’t get the sense that baseball does that as well as it might. This is particularly important given the optics of baseball’s relationship with alcohol advertising and the fact that baseball, indirectly or otherwise, sells A LOT of  beer to people.  If you’re inclined to believe that ballplayers are role models you can add that too, though since I don’t buy into that stuff I don’t have real standing to talk about it.

That aside: good job by Bois.  It’s a good corrective for people like me who have big soapboxes and strong opinions about things to be presented with, you know, actual data before we spout off.

Kudos to Fox for not going crazy with the curses

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I turned on last night’s Fox broadcast fully expecting them to spend too much time on history and curses and billy goats and black cats and Steve Bartman and 1908 and 1948 and all of that jive while spending too little time on the game and the players at hand. I will admit now that I was pleasantly surprised that that was not, in fact, the case.

To be clear, the pregame show was a friggin’ train wreck in this department. There the narrative framing was basically wall-to-wall. In the first segment, Fox studio host Kevin Burkhardt used the phrase “reverse the curse” within his first thirty seconds of speaking. Then, before much if any actual game stuff was referred to, Burkhardt mentioned all of the following things in the space of a, maybe, 45 second span:

When the montage ended, Alex Rodriguez said that “every player wants to break that curse.” Then they threw it to the first commercial at 7:38 or so. In the second segment they ran a prerecorded thing about championship droughts, making liberal mention of 108 years for the Cubs and 68 years for the Indians, but then got down to some actual game breakdown.

In the third segment, Burkhardt threw it to the P.A. announcer at Progressive Field for player introductions, once again mentioning 108/68 years as he did so. After that, they ran a montage, set to Tom Petty and The Heartbreakers’ “The Waiting,” in which centenarians and other older folks talked about how long they’ve been — wait for it — waiting for an Indians or a Cubs championship. Lots of them mentioned billy goats and curses and stuff.

When that was over Fox finally threw it to Joe Buck and John Smoltz up in the booth. Buck added a punctuative “the waiting is the hardest part,” and soon after they ran a Buck-narrated pre-produced montage about what was going on in 1908 and 1948, saying who was president, noting when Model-Ts were invented and all of that, all set to “Time has come today” by the Chambers Brothers. So, yes, that was a lot to take in in the space of a half hour.

But that’s on me, right? Who in the heck needs to watch a pregame show? No one, really. Alex Rodriguez and Pete Rose are proving to be a nice combination for Fox — getting rid of C.J. Nitkowski has cleared the congestion a bit and both A-Rod and Rose are proving to be naturals after a 2015 in which they were somewhat clunky — but a pregame show is pretty superfluous. The actual baseball breakdown those guys provide can be accomplished in less than ten minutes. The rest of it practically begs for those narrative-servicing montages, and frankly, no one needs ’em.

Most notably, though: the curse and weight of history talk basically ended once the game got going. Indeed, Buck and Smoltz were shockingly and refreshingly narrative-free for most if not all of the contest. They talked about Jon Lester and his issues holding runners. Corey Kluber‘s slider. Andrew Miller being Andrew Miller. Kyle Schwarber being there at all. They did a really nice job of handling all of the Xs and Os the way you want your broadcast booth to handle it.

Smoltz in particular was outstanding, showing that Fox’s decision to make him their number one color guy while reassigning Harold Reynolds and Tom Verducci to be a fantastic one. A two-man booth is superior to a three-man booth in almost every instance, but the second man in Fox’s booth now mixes his insight and his regular conversation seamlessly. You never feel like Smoltz is talking down to you or speaking from his obviously superior place of baseball authority. His tone is as if he’s letting you in on stuff he thinks and hopes you’ll really appreciate knowing and he never plays the “I USED TO PLAY BASEBALL” card in the obnoxious ways some ex-player commentators do. And he’s right: we do appreciate what he tells us.

Beating up on Fox’s baseball broadcasts has been its own sport for many of us for several years, but there was nothing to really beat them up about last night. Sure, we could do without in-game interviews, but after the pregame show Fox showed remarkable restraint with respect to pushing history and narrative and curses and all of that baloney that has little if anything to do with the 2016 Chicago Cubs and Cleveland Indians. They kept it focused on the baseball game that was going on before us in ways they haven’t always done in the past. It was refreshing and, dare I say, downright enjoyable.

More of this please.

Republicans accuse Hillary Clinton of being a bandwagon Cubs fan

CHICAGO - APRIL 4:  Hillary Rodham Clinton throws out the first pitch before the Chicago Cubs Opening Day game against the New York Mets at Wrigley Field on April 4, 1994 in Chicago, Illinois. (Photo by Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images)
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This was inevitable: The Republican National Committee published a ridiculously detailed and self-serious opposition-research report accusing Hillary Clinton of being a “bandwagon” Cubs fan.

If you’re of a certain age you’ll recall that Clinton, who grew up in the Chicago suburbs, spoke about being a Cubs fan as a kid. You’ll also recall that when she was running for her senate seat in New York, she gave shoutouts to a heretofore unheard of Yankees fandom. A lot of people have had fun with this at various times — we’ve mentioned it here on multiple occasions — but I wasn’t aware that anyone considered it an actually substantive political issue as opposed to an amusing “politicians, man” kind of thing.

The Republicans think it’s serious, though. Indeed, there’s more detail to this oppo-hit than there is any of the party’s candidate’s position papers. And while someone could, theoretically, have a lot of fun with this kind of material, the opposition report is not even remotely tongue-in-cheek. It reads like a poisition paper on nuclear proliferation. If the GOP had been this serious about vetting its own candidate, I suspect they wouldn’t be in the position they’re in today.

As for the substance: eh, who cares? Sports is entertainment and cultural glue. As a kid in Chicago, being a Cubs fan is both fun and makes some sense. As a senator from New York in the early 2000s, you’re gonna get to go to some Yankees games and sit in some good seats and that’s fun too. And, of course, politicians are going to say opportunistic things in order to attempt to connect with their constituents. Think of that what you will, but if you think of that as something which reveals something deep and dark within their soul about what kind of person they are, you probably need to step away from the cable news for a while and get some fresh air. Or you probably need to admit that you already believed the worse about her and that this is just an exercise in confirmation bias.

Heck, at this point I almost hope she finds a third or fourth team to root for. Indeed, I hope she makes a comic heel turn, puts on a Chief Wahoo hat for tonight’s game and claims that, deep, deep down, she had always rooted for the Indians. Then even I could get on her case about it. And we could all talk about how, in her own way, Hillary was really bringing the nation together.