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Morosi: baseball should ban alcohol in the clubhouse

Feb 2, 2010, 7:57 AM EDT

Busch stadium scoreboard.jpgFOX’s Jon Paul Morosi thinks it’s time for the 15 or so teams that continue to provide alcohol to players in the clubhouse after the game to ban the practice:

A universal ban on alcohol in major league clubhouses is long overdue.
Until every team removes beer from the working quarters of its
employees, each day on the baseball schedule will include the most
unsettling of possibilities – that alcohol consumed in a clubhouse
could contribute to injury or death on the road.

I struggle
to think of a good reason why baseball clubhouses should be viewed
differently than all the other workplaces where alcohol is forbidden.
The NFL gets this. Roger Goodell has a simple, easy-to-remember policy:
If you’re in the locker room, bus or airplane of an NFL team, you can’t
drink. Period.

While I’m not entirely unsympathetic to Morosi’s arguments, the examples he uses don’t help him out that much. Miguel Cabrera, Morosi’s lede, was drinking at a hotel after a game. Josh Hancock — the St. Louis Cardinals pitcher who was killed while driving drunk in 2007 and whom Morosi also cites — was drinking at a restaurant. The NFL’s policy may or may not be a good one in practice, but one wonders if it’s borne out of a real thought process or out of the fact the NFL seems hellbent on treating its players like children.

I’m not aware of any incidents involving ballplayers and alcohol that have been directly linked to beer in the clubhouse. Indeed, when several clubs moved to ban clubhouse beer following Hancock’s death many people around the game — I recall Joe Torre’s comments specifically — noted that beer at the ballpark wasn’t much of a problem at all.  Most players either have families they want to get home to following the game and/or adhere to conditioning regimes that simply aren’t compatible with pounding that Budweiser after a game. On the road everyone rides the bus or takes a cab.

As a lawyer, I can appreciate that fear of liability is what really drives this sort of thing, and it’s a legitimate fear. But if that’s something teams are truly interested in, they have to examine a bunch of their other alcohol policies as well, such as how much fans are served and when.  I’ve had the privilege of sitting in a luxury box before and I observed that if one were so inclined, one could sit in one of those bad boys and chase whiskey with beer for three solid hours without ever taking a dollar out of their pocket. Likewise, some teams’ “all-inclusive” seating areas — the cheap seats where you can get all-you-can-eat food — includes beer.

Where does that leave us? I can’t speak for others, but in my mind it leaves us with clubhouse bans being largely symbolic due to the fact that after-game beer hasn’t been a real problem and potentially hypocritical due to how freely the booze flows to others who leave the ballpark in their cars each night.

That doesn’t mean that banning clubhouse beer is a bad idea — if I owned a team and something happened with a player after the game I’d probably feel better if I knew he didn’t have a beer on the premises that night — but I don’t know that it’s a particularly useful one either.

  1. willmose - Feb 2, 2010 at 8:01 AM

    Josh Hancock was drunk and texting when he was killed. Please ban texting in the clubhouse as well.

  2. Ron - Feb 2, 2010 at 8:07 AM

    Beer also helped Babe Ruth hit all those homeruns. And we know how bad that was for the game. If Babe hadn’t hit all of those homeruns to entertain the fans, then none of the players would have ever used steroids to try and hit homeruns as well.
    Is my comment as stupid as the article? If not, let me know and I’ll add to it.

  3. Jonny5 - Feb 2, 2010 at 8:23 AM

    Maybe they should ban using a hardball too, You know people are injured and killed by these very dangerous projectiles.
    “One recently published study by Milsten gives the incidence of injuries to Major League Baseball (MLB) fans from foul balls as 35.1 injuries per every million spectator visits.” And 5 deaths have been reported due to this unsettling phenomenon of people hitting hardballs too darned hard. I say we should immediately switch to use of safety padded soft balls or require spectators to don batting helmets with a hockey like visor covering their eyes, coupled with a catchers chest protector. That oughta do it imo. Let’s ban everything!!!! Woo hooo!!!

  4. Old Gator - Feb 2, 2010 at 8:29 AM

    Can’t recall exactly when it was, but a couple of decades or so ago the Disney company “discovered” what should have been a priori knowledge for any employer doing business in France: that the construction workers on its Euro-Disney site were quaffing a touch of the grape with lunch. Well, if you think that Roger Goodell is a paternalistic putz, let me tell you from indirect personal experience that Disney makes him look like Fagin (which is really funny, considering that Uncle Walt himself used to begin each day at the office with a breakfast consisting of a donut dunked in a glass of scotch). They banned the wine from the construction site – and the entire workforce walked off the job. These guys were going to have their pate, bread and cheese but be damned if they were going to be denied the daily doses of resveratrol to keep even the finest lamb, camembert and croissants from behaving like horsemeat and velveeta sandwiches and piling on their cardiovascular systems. Mierde!
    .
    Now here was a conundrum to stump a PhD in cryptography: what’s more important, the frisson of sanctimonious posturing, or losing money? Remember now, this is Disney we’re talking about.
    .
    Well, here’s a hint: the place got built.
    .
    Stick to your guns, Player’s Association -urrrrrpppp!-

  5. Jonny5 - Feb 2, 2010 at 8:29 AM

    Down with food at games!!!!! Does anybody know how many people choke on ballpark food every year???? Me neither but I’m sure it’s more than the amount of ball players injuring others while driving drunk after a game because of clubhouse beer.
    Down with the food!!!!! Ban it all!!!!
    Can anyone tell I’m an in the closet libertarian yet?

  6. Disgusted - Feb 2, 2010 at 8:30 AM

    These are really stupid comments. Texting in the clubhouse will not lead to a later death on the highway. Drinking might. Using a hardball in baseball is a part of the game. The game can take place quite nicely without alcohol in the clubhouse. Are you people boozeheads offended by someone that would want to limit booze anywhere? The players can’t drink somewhere else later? An employer cannot(owner) cannot make rules for the workplace? You guys can all drink where you work? I think you people should get sober before you write again.

  7. Joey B - Feb 2, 2010 at 8:41 AM

    Simple solution-My old company stopped serving alcohol on any regular basis due to liability concerns. When we did actually serve it, it was during our Friday BBQ, and we only bought enough beer so that everyone could only have 1-2 beers. If the players are eating after the game, spending an hour getting ready to leave, talking to the press, etc., they won’t be anywhere near impaired on two Coors Light. You could also amend the policy on the road when, as you say, no one driving to the hotel, and no one is driving from the plane to the hotel. If I can have a beer, or 5 beers on a flight, I see no reason why a player can’t.

  8. Jonny5 - Feb 2, 2010 at 8:41 AM

    Disgusted, Shut the hell up! What happened to freedom??? You wish to remove our freedoms, and the freedoms of an employer to make their own decision on this topic??? What is this? IRAN?

  9. stargatebabe - Feb 2, 2010 at 8:53 AM

    An employer cannot(owner) cannot make rules for the workplace?
    Yes, an employer (owner) can make the rules but the media has to STOP stick their freaking nose in EVERYTHING! It’s none of the media’s business what the owners do in the clubhouse!

  10. john - Feb 2, 2010 at 9:28 AM

    Wait, so it’s ok for 30,000 people to drown themselves in booze at a ballgame, then get in cars and hurtle themselves all over the area, but the team can’t have one after work. I see…… no hypocrisy there.
    Oh, wait. You mean they make MONEY on those $9.00 beers? Oh, ok. Well then, I’ll just have to keep taking the subway then.

  11. YANKEES1996 - Feb 2, 2010 at 9:32 AM

    Jonny5 – Agreed, if anything in the ballpark presents any risk whatsoever then it should be banned! This is probably one of the dumbest stories I’ve read lately, this simply doesn not seem to be a huge problem. Why waste time on it?
    stargatebabe -It’s none of the media’s business what the owners do in the clubhouse! Does that include ignoring the steroid issue?

  12. Grant - Feb 2, 2010 at 9:35 AM

    I wish the season would start, so newspaper columnists could start writing stupid crap about what goes on on the field instead of dipping into their slow-news-day-column-ideas files. I’d much rather be reading about how, I dunno, gritty David Eckstein is than some boob’s opinion on Budweiser.

    That said, I have a hard time getting worked up about this either way. On the one hand, as several have said, aside from an occasional holiday party drinking is frowned upon at my work (and even being involved in the world of academia, drinking there is usually limited to evening functions). On the other hand, it’s difficult to pretend that a Major League clubhouse is really a typical workplace. These guys spend a lot of time together in this one place, often away from their homes and families. I imagine it becomes something of a second home (despite having guys like John Paul Morosi standing around while you shower), so I can see the desire to grab a beer or whatever while having your post-game soak.

    Maybe allow clubhouse drinking but make the players provide their own booze? It’d be another way for the clubhouse attendants to get some tips. Beer runs and all that.

  13. Charles Gates - Feb 2, 2010 at 9:53 AM

    Gator- that was a case we went over pretty heavily during an International Management class in business school. From what I remember, l’interdiction du vin continued after Euro Disney opened. Disney exec’s couldn’t figure out why their patrons were showing up in such low numbers. The academic angle was: if you have a successful corporate culture, what modifications are you willing/able to make for international expansion while still maintaining the ‘magic’ that got you to where you are?
    In so far as baseball is concerned, assuming equal money between Team A and Team B, a club house enviornment may play a role in determining where a free agent decides to ink their next deal.

  14. BC - Feb 2, 2010 at 10:35 AM

    Folks, it’s all a liability issue. The NFL and its teams don’t want to get sued if someone gets toasted on their dime and time, and goes out behind the wheel and kills someone. MLB should ban the booze. If a player wants to find booze that badly, he’ll find it. If he wants to abuse booze, he can do that too. But on his own, not with the help and sponsorship of the team. It’s the same thing with company-sponsored holiday parties at my place – there is no booze supplied by the company, but nothing prevents me from hitting the liquor store afterwards and grabbing a bottle of Chivas for the ride home.

  15. moreflagsmorefun - Feb 2, 2010 at 10:55 AM

    I guess drinking Champagne for clinchers is
    still good, but beer is bad.I think men can
    manage their own life, just put up signs and
    make transportation available, they are not
    children.What is next, ban ALL alcohol in
    Public, hide in your basement and get drunk.
    Moe would not like this talk at all.
    Ay Caramba

  16. Fast Eddy - Feb 2, 2010 at 10:57 AM

    You know, it may be a good idea to ban alcohol altogether. If some people can’t hold their liquor and have no will power, then let no one drink the stuff. Oh wait, that was tried about 100 years ago. It doesn’t work.. Nevermind.

  17. moreflagsmorefun - Feb 2, 2010 at 11:06 AM

    After losing the 2000 Subway series to the Yankees, Mike Piazza of the Mets and many of his teamates were in the clubhouse sitting on the floor near their lockers drained from their playoff run, very quiet just kicking back a few. I always wondered what does a player do after losing the championship, this answered the question,I thought this probably was the teamates time to just relax, like old friend’s.I don’t know what should happen with drinking in the clubhouse, I’m not that smart, I’ll leave that alone.

  18. mick-7-1961 - Feb 2, 2010 at 11:23 AM

    Should Alcohol be banned in the clubhouse?
    Slow news day?
    Stupid question…of course it should.
    What else you got??

  19. John - Feb 2, 2010 at 11:47 AM

    Why not ban common sense while we are at it. That’s teh way we seem to be going as a country. These are adults. If they want to have a beer after a game so be it. Why does it have to be left up to MLB or their respective teams to govern what these people do. It’s time for people to start taking responsibilities for theirt own actions. Banning beer from a clubhouse is not the answer.

  20. AJ Gallo - Feb 2, 2010 at 12:59 PM

    It may be a trivial subject to some, but BC hit the nail right on the head. I don’t understand why some can’t grasp this very simple concept? One ballplayer, even ONE, has a beer or two, that’s all, in the clubhouse, which may be foolishly allowed by the ballclub, I don’t care if it’s after the game, drives home and gets in an accident, or hits someone on the road, and the victim will sue the player and the ballclub for everything they can get. Are you guys kidding? You can’t see that? It won’t matter a hill of beans that defense can prove the ballplayer was under the legal alcohol limit, the club will still get sued, and it’ll still cost them money. And on top of that, the PR fallout for the ballclub will be huge. This issue has nothing to do with “freedom” and everything to do with common sense.

  21. DAN - Feb 2, 2010 at 1:00 PM

    Everybody has an opinion, much like everbody has rectum, now sometimes some people’s rectum opens up a bit too wide..and their brains fall out!! Why does the media feel entitiled to stick their pens or key boards into places it does not belong??
    Alcohol in the baseball club house is as traditional as perhaps Jon Paul Morosi toasting his wife, girlfriend, family and friends on New Years Eve. Baseball players and staff get paid enough to be responsible enough for their own actions much like you at a baseball game, you know when to stop, just because its available does not mean you have to keep drinking it. What are we gonna do now baby sit the club houses where grown men finish a day of work at the office and choose to grab a cold one or two before going home? How about we follow YOU home Jon and make sure you don’t stop off for one or two after work? Give it rest Jon.

  22. DAN - Feb 2, 2010 at 1:10 PM

    Everybody has an opinion, much like everbody has rectum, now sometimes some people’s rectum opens up a bit too wide..and their brains fall out!! Why does the media feel entitiled to stick their pens or key boards into places it does not belong??
    Alcohol in the baseball club house is as traditional as perhaps Jon Paul Morosi toasting his wife, girlfriend, family and friends on New Years Eve. Baseball players and staff get paid enough to be responsible enough for their own actions much like you at a baseball game, you know when to stop, just because its available does not mean you have to keep drinking it. What are we gonna do now baby sit the club houses where grown men finish a day of work at the office and choose to grab a cold one or two before going home? How about we follow YOU home Jon and make sure you don’t stop off for one or two after work? Give it rest Jon.

  23. Edward Perez - Feb 2, 2010 at 1:17 PM

    I don’t think Babe Ruth would have hit less HR’s if he avoided beer in the clubhouse. Beer did not contribute to his ability to hit the long ball.

  24. moreflagsmorefun - Feb 2, 2010 at 1:26 PM

    Just sue the liquor store then, ah, leave me alone, I don’t have
    even drink, I might start now.
    Will beer still be available for fans to get drunk and fall down stairs, ramps and still drive home, yeah, ok, good.

  25. moreflagsmorefun - Feb 2, 2010 at 1:28 PM

    oh yeah, that’s what you think, Bud made him do it.
    Bud-wei-ser……..

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