MLB DUI Mug Shots: A List of 11 MLB Players Who Just Don't Get It
Major league has at least made an effort in recent years to stop turning a blind eye to what was going on right in front of them.
Steroids and performance enhancing drugs are now being tested for under Major League Baseball's Joint Drug Prevention and Treatment Program, and players are now paying a very steep price for any transgressions.
While many will say the new policy was too late, MLB at least took the steps suggested by the Mitchell Report. Several suspensions have been handed out, and MLB continues to work with the Players’ Union in order to inform and educate players on the dangers and consequences of taking PEDs.
However, the MLB and the MLBPA has completely turned a blind eye on one of the most public of causes and concerns: drunk driving.
Just in the last week alone, two high-profile players were arrested for driving under the influence of alcohol, and yet they were both on the field contributing for their teams without any threat of punishment whatsoever, at least not from Major League Baseball.
There have also been at least four other incidents of players who were arrested for DUI within the last several months as well.
There have been other transgressions, most recently the allegation that Atlanta Braves pitching coach Roger McDowell made homophobic comments and crude sexual gestures toward fans and threatened a fan with a bat prior to a game against the San Francisco Giants at AT&T Park.
MLB at least suspended McDowell for two weeks. While we can certainly argue the harshness or leniency of the punishment based on his absolutely appalling actions, at least the Braves were in a position to at least do something.
Because of the collective bargaining agreement between the MLB and MLBPA, major league executives and teams have their hands tied with respect to punishing any player who makes the supremely stupid decision to get behind the wheel of a car when drunk.
The issue will not be addressed until MLB and the Players’ Union negotiate their next collective bargaining agreement, so until then, we will count the days until another high profile baseball player decides that they are above the law.
Here is a list of major league players who have violated the law, the public’s trust, and who clearly just don’t get it.
For the purposes of keeping this list from taking a month out of my time, it is restricted to just alcohol-related offenses.
For continuing coverage of Major League Baseball, follow Doug on Twitter @Sports_A_Holic.
* Author's note: I am a recovering alcoholic, and have been sober for 22 years, and was arrested four times for driving under the influence of alcohol.
When Steve Howe was drafted by the Los Angeles Dodgers in the 1979 Baseball Draft from the University of Michigan, he was touted as a promising left-hander with a lively arm.
Howe would show off that talent the following year, winning the 1980 National League Rookie of the Year award.
However, Howe was also heavily into alcohol and drugs, and was arrested for DUI, along with being suspended seven times by MLB for substance abuse issues.
Howe was killed in 2006 when the pickup truck he was driving rolled over. Toxicology results later showed that Howe had methamphetamine in his system, however the exact amount was unknown.
To say that slugging outfielder Darryl Strawberry was a gifted ballplayer would be a vast understatement. To say that Strawberry was troubled would be an ever bigger understatement.
Troubled throughout most of his career with drugs and alcohol, Strawberry was suspended more than once by Major League Baseball for his transgressions.
On September 11, 2000, in Tampa, Strawberry tried to drive to see his probation officer after taking painkillers. At the time, Strawberry was on probation for trying to solicit sex from an undercover police officer.
While driving, he blacked out, rear-ended another car, and then tried to drive away. An off-duty police officer witnessed the episode and arrested him at gunpoint.
The next day, Strawberry admitted to the charges and his probation was changed to two years of house arrest. On November 21, he was sentenced to a year of probation and community service.
Like his teammate Darryl Strawberry, Dwight Gooden was another supremely talented baseball player who just didn't get it.
Gooden's problems first surfaced when he was arrested following a fight with police in Tampa in December 1986. The following year Gooden tested positive for cocaine and was suspended by Major League Baseball.
In 1994,Gooden again tested positive for cocaine, and was suspended for 60 days. While under suspension, Gooden tested positive once again, and was suspended for the remainder of the 1995 season.
On February 20, 2002, Gooden was arrested in Tampa and charged with driving while intoxicated, having an open container of alcohol in his vehicle, and driving with a suspended license.
He was arrested again in January 2003 for driving with a suspended license.
Once again, in 2010, Gooden was arrested for driving under the influence, this time leaving the scene of an accident and having a child on board.
Source: New York Times
On December 22, 2006, Florida Marlins pitcher Dontrelle Willis was arrested in Miami Beach after police there found Willis outside his car, stumbling and confused.
Willis had double-parked his Bentley outside a bar in South Beach, and was seen urinating on the street, according to the police report.
Scott Olsen of the Florida Marlins was already known as a troublemaker, getting into several scrapes with teammates and once was fined for making an obscene gesture to fans.
On early Saturday morning, July 21, 2007, Olsen was clocked for speeding in the Aventura area of Miami. When police attempted to pull him over, Olsen sped off and led police on a chase before finally stopping at his home.
When officers tried to arrest Olsen, he got involved in an altercation and was actually put down by a stun gun.
Olsen was booked and arrested for driving under the influence, resisting an officer with violence and fleeing and eluding a police officer.
Source: USA Today
Austin Kearns, currently playing for the Cleveland Indians, was arrested and charged with driving under the influence in February, and the only way the Indians even knew about it was hearing about it in the newspapers.
This is the report of events concerning Kearns' arrest from Kentucky.com:
Kearns, 30, was stopped at 2:28 a.m. Feb. 12 by an off-duty Fayette County officer on Golf Club Drive in Nicholasville, according to an arrest report on file in Jessamine County.
Jessamine County Deputy Sheriff Todd Sponcil went to the scene, and the off-duty officer told Sponcil that Kearns had driven down an emergency lane without headlights and was weaving on the road, the report says.
Kearns told Sponcil that he had had a couple of bourbon and cokes at Harry's Bar in Lexington. Sponcil noted that Kearns "smelled of alcohol and had slurred speech."
When Sponcil asked Kearns to get out of the white 2007 Cadillac Escalade, Kearns "was very unsteady on his feet and leaned against the vehicle to steady himself," Sponcil wrote.
Kearns refused to take sobriety tests, the report says. He later refused to take a breath test to measure blood-alcohol content at the Jessamine County jail.
Kearns later said that he didn't tell the Cleveland Indians about the incident "on the advice of his attorney."
On March 2 of this year, Oakland Athletics outfielder Coco Crisp was pulled over in his $400,000 2009 Rolls Royce Phantom after he was apparently having issues keeping the car in one lane.
According to TMZ.com:
Cops say, "After the stop, the officer observed signs of intoxication on the driver. After Mr. Crisp agreed to, and performed field sobriety tests, he was arrested without further incident."
On January 26, Adam Kennedy, who had just been signed by the Seattle Mariners, was arrested for driving under the influence after having some drinks with friends at a local bar in Newport Beach, CA.
Police pulled Kennedy over for speeding originally, but when he failed a breathalyzer test, the charge of driving under the influence was added.
"I want to let you know this is not the typical character of me," Kennedy told The Seattle Times.
"It's something I'm really ashamed of, and not proud to bring to the Seattle Mariners, especially not having put on the uniform yet. It's my first legal trouble — something I'm definitely not looking to ever do again."
Detroit Tigers slugger Miguel let down his team in late September 2009 when he was found arguing with his wife after a night of drinking.
Cabrera was taken to the police station, but was not charged at the time. The Tigers at the time were in the midst of a tight race with the Minnesota Twins for the American League Central division title.
In mid-February of this year, Cabrera was arrested by police in Fort Pierce, FL after he was found on the side of the road by his car with the engine smoking.
According to ESPN:
Cabrera was spotted by a deputy in a car with a smoking engine alongside a road in Fort Pierce. Inside the vehicle, Cabrera smelled of alcohol, had slurred speech and took a swig from a bottle of scotch in front of a deputy, according to the St. Lucie County Sheriff's Office. He refused to cooperate and more deputies were called to the scene.
According to the police report, Cabrera was wandering into the road with his hands up before he was handcuffed. The report quoted him saying, "Do you know who I am? You don't know anything about my problems," and cursing at deputies who tried to get him into a patrol car.
One deputy struck Cabrera in the left thigh several times with his knee after Cabrera pushed into him, causing the ballplayer to fall into the patrol car. Cabrera refused to take a breath test, deputies said.
He was arrested on charges of driving under the influence of alcohol and resisting an officer without violence.
Cabrera did take a leave of absence from the team to "deal" with his issues.
Apparently, Cabrera thought it was a laughing matter at the time.
Just last week, Atlanta Braves pitcher Derek Lowe was arrested in Atlanta after Lowe was spotted trying to race with another car.
According to ESPN:
Gordy Wright, a spokesman for the Georgia State Patrol, said a trooper stopped Lowe's vehicle about 10 p.m. Thursday after it was spotted racing another car down an Atlanta street. The trooper detected an odor of alcohol and administered a field sobriety test, which resulted in Lowe's arrest.
The 37-year-old right-hander was charged with DUI, reckless driving and improper lane change, Wright said. Lowe declined to take a breath test before he was released, the spokesman added.
Lowe also issued a statement, saying, "I would like to apologize to my family, teammates, fans and the Braves organization for the attention arising from this matter," Lowe said.
"However, I am hopeful that this incident will not be a distraction to the Braves organization while we are focused on returning to the playoffs."
How could it NOT be a distraction, especially after the most recent incident in the Braves' organization involving pitching coach Roger McDowell.
Again.. they just don't GET IT.
Cleveland Indians outfielder Shin-Soo Choo was arrested on suspicion of drunk driving this past Monday night, May 2.
Police reported that Choo's blood alcohol level was .20, twice the legal limit for the state of Ohio.
Choo's arrest prompted several players, and even a former general manager, to take to Twitter, wondering out loud about the ramifications of Choo's arrest and possible fines or suspension, which won't happen, whereas Chicago White Sox manager Ozzie Guillen was suspended for two days for sending out a tweet during a game.
Baltimore Orioles pitcher Jeremy Guthrie was one who tweeted about it, in MasterCard style:
"Tweeting about umps during game=$20,000 fine & 2-game suspension. Driving Under the Influence=$0.00 MLB fine."
And this from former Baltimore Orioles general manager Jim Duquette.
"This is getting ridiculous, Ozzie gets 2 days off and 20K fine for tweeting, but DUI gets nothing?? We need some help from the MLBPA on this."
What Will the Solution Be?
I could have literally gone on and on with mug shots of players who were arrested, but readers should have the point by now.
The bottom line is, players just don't get it.
When any ballplayer in any professional sport signs a contract, they are being paid a ridiculous amount of money to play a sport in which millions can only dream about playing.
Their talents and gifts are subjected to the envy and eyes of all who deign to watch, and as a result, professional athletes are looked upon with a respect and awe, especially by youngsters.
Now I am not saying that any athlete belongs on a pedestal, nor should they be looked upon as heroes, or even as role models.
But when they violate the public's trust by getting arrested for an offense that has been in the public eye for many decades, then it's a clear sign that they really don't care, and that they just don't get it.
Major League Baseball and the Players' Union shouldn't have to even put something into effect with regard to the collective bargaining agreement.
If players can't figure it out without policies in effect, they probably won't afterwards, either.