Ryan Tucker was a Marlins’ first round draft pick in 2005 who made it to the bigs as a reliever in 2008. You probably never heard of him given that he pitched only 18 games in the bigs — 13 with the Marlins in his rookie year and five more in 2011 with the Rangers — before retiring because of a messed up shoulder.
He’s in the news today, however, due to an article at the cannabis website Leafly.* They report that Tucker is opening up a marijuana dispensary and cultivation business in his home state of California. The article uses Tucker as a jumping off point to discuss the marijuana culture of baseball.
Or, rather, the lack of it:
It’s almost impossible to be a stoner in the minors. Baseball’s hella straight until you get to the big leagues . . . on the surface, baseball is the straightest of the four major sports. On the surface. Below, it’s a different story.
The double standard comes by virtue of Major League Baseball’s Collective Bargaining Agreement which, as we’ve noted in the past, does not provide for randomly testing those covered by it for pot. Players not on a 40-man roster (i.e. most minor leaguers) are subjected to random pot testing. As a result, minor leaguers have a strong incentive to stay off the stuff, even if some of them don’t. Major leaguers, if they are inclined to smoke pot, merely have an incentive not to be super obvious about it. Even if some of them are.
I get why it’s handled this way. Drug laws can be rather nonsensical in certain ways but they are a fact of life. A pretty uncertain fact when it comes to weed these days as well, with a patchwork of legalization/non-criminalization/prohibition across the country, all of which could turn on a dime given the views of the new Attorney General. So, even if there is a tacit acknowledgment by Major League Baseball that marijuana is not a pressing concern — if it were, they’d push for testing big leaguers — they have an incentive to not appear as though they condone it for a host of legal and public relations reasons.
Still, it’s hard to square the policies baseball has regarding weed with its almost completely hands-off stance with respect to alcohol and painkillers which can be and often are far more dangerous and destructive to an athlete and those around him than weed can be. That disconnect is not just a baseball’s problem, of course. All of society is geared that way for a host of reasons.
Anyway, it’s an interesting subject.
*I link the article because I have to and you should read the article if you’d like to because the topic is interesting, but I’ll warn you, it’s not a great read. I’m not sure why, but it seems like virtually everything you read about marijuana is written in the voice of that stoner kid you knew in high school. Eye-rollingly bad slang and the implication that the author and the reader are in on some cool secret. You can almost see the author winking and you can mentally add “you know what I’m sayin’, right dude?” at the end of every paragraph. We need to normalize and rationalize our marijuana laws in this country, but boy howdy, do we need the people who advocate for such normalization and rationalization to grow up a bit. No one’s going to treat your subject seriously if you don’t treat it seriously yourself.