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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.

MLB games were six minutes shorter this year

Pitch Clock
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According to STATS, INC., the average game in 2015 was 2 hours, 56 minutes. That’s six minutes faster than games in 2014.

The gains came in the first half, when games averaged 2:53. Second half games averaged three hours even. One can probably thank the expanded rosters in September for that, as games then see many more pitching changes. Of course, it’s likely that second half games were faster in 2015 than 2014 as well given the rules changes.

Those changes: agreement to enforce the rule requiring a hitter to keep at least one foot in the batter’s box and the installation of clocks timing pitching changes and between-inning breaks in ever ballpark.

It remains to be seen if MLB stays satisfied with that modest improvement or if chooses to go the way Triple-A and Double-A leagues did. They installed 20-second pitch clocks and started penalizing violators with balls and strikes. Triple-A’s two leagues, the International and Pacific Leagues, saw game-time decreases by 13 and 16 minutes, respectively.

Billy Beane promoted to VP, David Forst named A’s general manager

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I’m so old I remember when general managers used to run baseball operations departments. Now they’re basically assistants.

The latest example: the Oakland Athletics have promoted Billy Beane to vice president of baseball operations and have named David Forst general manager. Forst has been with the A’s for 16 years and has been Beane’s assistant for 12 years, so it’s not exactly a situation in which Forst will be making the final calls. The official move came today, though the move has been in the works for some time, it seems.

Someone with a lot of good front office access is going to write a good story this winter about the title inflation going on in Major League Baseball over the past year. And it’s gonna be great when one of his or her sources breaks the pattern of saying “well, baseball transactions are so much more complex these days . . . ” and admits “hey, if Theo gets a fancy title and La Russa gets a fancy title I WANT A FANCY TITLE TOO.”

Not that it’s much of a secret as it is.