Well it is still spring training for Major League Baseball clubs and we have our first two DUI arrests of the 2012 season. While teams are down in Florida and Arizona getting ready for the start of the season, two professional baseball players will have to start preparing for something much more serious as they begin the legal process after being arrested for driving under the influence among other counts as repercussions of their actions yesterday and this morning. Former #1 overall pick in the 2004 draft, Matt Bush, now a pitcher with the Tampa Bay Rays organization, and Red Sox relief pitcher Bobby Jenks were both arrested by Florida police yesterday and will now have to answer to some serious charges. Both of these are very unfortunate incidents that yet again bring up a topic that Major League Baseball needs to look into educating and enforcing its athletes about: Driving while Intoxicated/Impaired.
I will begin with the Matt Bush situation. Less than a month after Tampa Bay Rays manager Joe Maddon bashed a policy put in place by Bobby Valentine to prohibit alcohol in the Red Sox clubhouse and on the final leg of flights one of Maddon’s own players is in trouble with the law, and not for the first time might I add. Joe Maddon speaking on the subject said in February “We’re not the Red Sox….I’ve said it a hundred times, For me at the end of the day, I’d much prefer our players making good decisions, and if you’re of legal age, and the game is over, and you’ve sweated and lost a bunch of pounds and you want to sit down and have a beer, I see nothing wrong with that”. And you know what, besides the quip about the Red Sox, Maddon is right. But yesterday afternoon Matt Bush screwed up and while he bears the brunt of the responsibility, Maddon and the Ray organization needs to be held partially responsible too as he is a representative of that organization. In what has been described as a gruesome scene, Matt Bush was driving impaired and struck a motorcycle driven by a 72 year old Anthony Tufano and then fled the scene. Even worse, its being reported that after he struck the man the tire of Bush’s SUV literally ran over the head of the motorcyclist and without the helmet that man would surely have been killed instantly. As it stands the man has been transported to the Lee Memorial Hospital Trauma Center where he remains in serious condition with broken ribs, broken bones in his back, and a brain hemorrhage. I wish I could that this was Bush’s first DUI or drunken encounter with police, but that just not the case here. Back in 2009 while still a member of the Padres organization Bush was arrested for a DUI outside of San Diego and booked on charges of assault, DUI, driving on a suspended license, vandalism and resisting arrest. Bush has also been involved with an assault for a fight outside an Arizona nightclub and for another assault on a high school lacrosse player in 2009 while intoxicated. What happened yesterday is definitely the most serious of any of his offenses though as he showed absolutely zero regard for human life by hitting the old man with his SUV, running over his head, and then driving away from the scene.
Now, onto Bobby Jenks. Jenks has been a relief pitcher for his entire MLB career and from what I’ve gathered this is his first arrest over the course of his career. Early this morning, just shy of 3 AM, Jenks was stopped by Lee County police for driving erratically in his white Mercedes-Benz SUV. When questioned by police Jenks knew that he had been stopped for driving all over the road, and he admitted that he was just leaving a Fort Myers strip club because he had hit another car in that parking lot. Jenks then told officers he would fail a sobriety test because he was “messed up” and had taken too many muscle relaxers. Jenks was unable to pass the test and was arrested for DUI and taken to the county jail where did he register a .000 breathalyzer test for alcohol. DUI arrests can be made for drugs or alcohol and in this case Jenks was seriously impaired and should not have been driving so the officers did a great job in taking him off the road and protecting himself as well as other drivers.
Major League Baseball needs to do a better job in educating their athletes about the dangers of drinking, using drugs, and especially driving afterwards and needs to begin punishing athletes for doing such things that are harmful not only to the athletes themselves, but other innocent individuals and also to the reputation of the league. People who follow baseball may remember the deaths of Cardinals pitcher Josh Hanock,who smashed his SUV into a tow truck on a St. Louis Highway back in May 2007, or Angels pitcher Nick Adenhart who lost his life after being broadsided by a minivan with a drunk driver behind the wheel in 2009, and these two tragedies need to be a wakeup call to the league and to its fans. Unfortunately last summer at least six players including Adam Kennedy, Austin Kearns, Miguel Cabrera, Coco Crisp, Derek Lowe, and Shin-Soo Choo were arrested on charges of DUI and other related crimes so the problem definitely hasn’t gone away. This season is not off to a good start with the stupidity and irresponsibility of Mr. Bush and Mr. Jenks, but hopefully this will be the end of it from the MLB this year. This kind of stuff shouldn’t and can’t happen and the lesson to be learned here is to be accountable for your actions and be a responsible adult so that you and your loved ones spend evenings at your own home instead of in a hospital bed, a jail cell, or even worse 6 feet under.