La Russa warned pitcher about excessive drinking
May 4: St. Louis Cardinal manager Tony La Russa says that he had a "very serious heart-to-heart" talk with pitcher Josh Hancock about excessive drinking days before his fatal accident.
Hancock wasn’t that lucky. You can be sure it wasn’t the first time he was over the limit on the way home. You can also be sure that no amount of preaching by the team or baseball or newspaper columnists would have made any difference. He was young. He was a guy. He was single. He was immortal.
Hancock was a relative rarity in sports — a 29-year-old single guy. Most athletes by that age are married. When they’re playing at home, they go home to wives and families. They do their drinking on the road, where they’re not driving themselves home. As a single guy, Hancock did his drinking at home and on the road.
Don’t condemn him for that. And don’t make the mistake of thinking that the marijuana found in his car meant he was more of a hazard. Police said his blood alcohol level was .157. That’s about twice the national legal limit.
Worse than the marijuana — no word yet on whether that was found in his system — was something that’s as dangerous as beer: a cell phone. The “Mythbusters” did a show in which they drove a closed course while talking on cell phones and then repeated it while legally drunk. The phones made them drive just as poorly as the beer. Hancock was both legally drunk and driving while phoning. Either one alone might have allowed him to see the tow truck he rammed at an estimated 68 mph Together, they were fatal. And it is a fact that while nearly 40 percent of highway deaths involve alcohol in some way, most fatalities are due to driver inattention, inexperience, fatigue or a combination of the three.
I don’t know of any way to prevent people from using their phones when driving. But we can stop them from driving drunk — if we’re willing to pay the price.
It’s not about Hancock. He’s just the poster boy for the leading cause of death for young males in this country. It’s about our children, our families, our friends, our neighbors.
In a town near where I live, it was a 20-year-old kid driving his pick-up truck at 80 or 90 m.p.h. on a road that was barely safe at 45. Lost control.
The nation grieved for those hurt, killed and affected by the Boston Marathon bombings. After one of the suspects was caught on Friday — following a day-long lockdown and manhunt — sports returned to Boston over the weekend.
What should the Cardinals and Major League Baseball have done for those kids and the thousands of others who die because of the lethal conjunction of beer and automobiles? Why do we care about Hancock more than we care about the guy down the street? Is he more valuable because he was a middle-reliever on a team that won the World Series?
Are we going to talk about it, or are we going to do something?
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Cardinals to review alcohol policy
May 4: St. Louis Cardinal General Manager Walt Jocketty says that the baseball team will re-examine its alcohol policy, at a news conference to discuss a police report that said Josh Hancock was drunk at the time of his fatal accident.