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With alcohol out of the clubhouse, clubhouse culture changes

Mar 27, 2013, 11:33 AM EDT

generic beer

Bob Nightengale has a good article up today talking about the culture of alcohol in the clubhouse:

“I lived a lifestyle like 90% of ballplayers,” Proctor says. “You sat around and had six beers after a game, went to dinner and had another six, and then guys are calling you to a bar where you’re drinking more.

“That wasn’t right. I know it wasn’t right for me. But as far as guys talking about the game over a few beers, I really think baseball misses that.”

That excerpt pretty much groks the entire nature of the thing. An alcoholic noting that the old ways of teams abiding heavy drinking among ballplayers are all but resigned to history, noting that it’s for the best, but also noting that something has been lost as a result.

The article itself doesn’t go into it, but obviously good things are gained too. Things which far outweigh that loss of beery camaraderie. Like fitter athletes who do not drive while drunk at rates that their predecessors likely did. Indeed, Nightegale points out something I hadn’t noticed: we’ve only had one DUI incident this spring training, involving a minor leaguer. Seems like most years we have many more. Perhaps players are starting to get the message.

Something else I like about the story is how Proctor and even Mark Grace, who is currently serving time in jail for drunk driving, don’t make the change in clubhouse drinking culture out to be some stark good vs. evil thing. Rather, they acknowledge that there are tradeoffs involved, even if they are necessary. I know that there are many ways to sobriety and responsible drinking for those who have trouble with alcohol, but sometimes I wonder if casting drinking into a stark good/evil light like some people do make said sobriety and responsibility harder for some folks, especially those who aren’t equipped to handle self-criticism and self-examination that they feel may force them to deny a part of their past was a mixed bag even if they were on a bad path.  I’m sure Scott Proctor has some good memories of his drinking days. It seems healthy to me that he can look back fondly on some of them even if he knows he can’t ever relive them lest he risk everything.

Sorry, I know that was a bit of a tangent. But I tend to like stories where the moral is kind of ambivalent like this. Given how complicated most things in life are, there should be more of them.

  1. schlemealsschlimazel - Mar 27, 2013 at 11:38 AM

    The only way you’re going to get the flask of cosmopolitan away from Joe Mauer is when you pry it from his cold dead hand.

    • deepflakes - Mar 27, 2013 at 2:32 PM

      Reminds me of the song “Drinking Days” by Slaid Cleaves.

  2. El Bravo - Mar 27, 2013 at 11:40 AM

    Alcohol is much more dangerous to the user and to others than marijuana is, yet it is (or was) cool to have in the clubhouse and isn’t considered a PED. Just thinking out loud.

    • jarathen - Mar 27, 2013 at 11:43 AM

      Alcohol doesn’t give off a smoke breathed in by those who aren’t partaking in it, either. Apples and oranges.

    • dowhatifeellike - Mar 27, 2013 at 11:48 AM

      Why is it that whenever someone publicly mentions alcohol, people always turn the topic to weed?

      • wlschneider09 - Mar 27, 2013 at 11:57 AM

        Alcohol is a gateway drug, obviously.

      • El Bravo - Mar 27, 2013 at 11:58 AM

        Because the more dangerous, more addictive substance is legal while the less dangerous, non-physically addictive substance is not. As a result, we have overflowing prisons and a failed “war” on drugs wasting our money and many lives as well. Meanwhile we have ballplayers driving around wasted and not getting suspended one game for it.

      • dowhatifeellike - Mar 27, 2013 at 12:00 PM

        That’s great, Bravo, but it has zero to do with the topic at hand. Take your crusade elsewhere.

      • Kevin S. - Mar 27, 2013 at 12:01 PM

        ^^Truth^^

      • APBA Guy - Mar 27, 2013 at 12:01 PM

        For the most part, alcohol and marijuana are social analogs. There was a lot of research about this in the early 70’s. Kids would use marijuana in similar situations and to similar extents as their parents used alcohol. Both were abused by x percent of users as well.

        That’s why they are so often paired in discussion, including discussions on decriminalization and taxation, incarceration rates vs treatment, social costs, etc..

      • Kevin S. - Mar 27, 2013 at 12:02 PM

        Gah, that was supposed to be at El Bravo. And actually, the hypocrisies of baseball’s (and America’s) drug cultures is very much relevant here.

      • El Bravo - Mar 27, 2013 at 12:03 PM

        Allow me to get off my super high horse now.

      • churchoftheperpetuallyoutraged - Mar 27, 2013 at 1:56 PM

        Allow me to get off my super high horse now.

        Maybe stop giving him weed then?

  3. 13arod - Mar 27, 2013 at 11:40 AM

    the funny thing is that redsox is lowering beer prices at the stadium

  4. cocheese000 - Mar 27, 2013 at 11:41 AM

    I don’t know how athletes can drink and play competitive sports. A long night of drinking for me is usually followed by a day of laying in bed hungover

    • yahmule - Mar 27, 2013 at 11:52 AM

      Most people don’t become functional alcoholics overnight. You have to work at it.

    • spudchukar - Mar 27, 2013 at 11:55 AM

      …Uh, maybe cause they are young, athletic and in good shape.

    • indaburg - Mar 27, 2013 at 12:00 PM

      These men are professionals. We are but mere amateurs.

      • stex52 - Mar 27, 2013 at 12:35 PM

        Here’s a concept. Mickey Mantle clean and sober. Imagine the records he might have broken.

      • indaburg - Mar 27, 2013 at 12:39 PM

        Yeah. While a good number of players during Mantle’s time were using PEDs, I think it’s balanced out by the number that were using PDDs (performance detracting drugs).

      • stex52 - Mar 27, 2013 at 12:51 PM

        Tobacco, for another. You used to be able to cut the air in the Astrodome with a knife. I don’t know how those guys could play in that stufff.

      • indaburg - Mar 27, 2013 at 1:51 PM

        Ugh, I would have died from asphyxiation. I’m very tolerant of most things, but I hate cigarettes and cigarette smoke with a fervent hatred that I reserve for few things.

    • Jeremy Fox - Mar 27, 2013 at 12:09 PM

      Probably helps if the guys you’re competing against are hung over too.

  5. danaking - Mar 27, 2013 at 11:48 AM

    These arguments always get presented as either/or. There is nothing wrong with players recapping the day over a few beers. Then operative phrase is “a few beers.” Not a dozen, and not when they’re going to be on the road afterward.

    • dowhatifeellike - Mar 27, 2013 at 11:51 AM

      It’s really not any different than the corporate world; going out for a few after work is fine, but getting smashed on a Tuesday is poor form. Except that during the baseball season, almost every day could be considered a Tuesday.

      • stex52 - Mar 27, 2013 at 12:37 PM

        The only exception in my experience was a business trip to Japan. I never consumed so much alcohol in a two week period in my life. Never intend to again, either.

      • badintent - Mar 28, 2013 at 2:29 AM

        @stex52
        Me too ! But I had been warned in advance. I would just pull out some pills and tell my Japanese clients that my doctor had told me no drinking with medicine. Worked everytime. The japanese suppliers were always trying to get me drunk to cut a better deal. No special discount, no deal.No ticket, no washie. No sh^t.

    • historiophiliac - Mar 27, 2013 at 12:40 PM

      Thank you. Hello, moderation.

  6. Old Gator - Mar 27, 2013 at 12:01 PM

    There seem to be many ways to sobriety, but once you’re sober, there was always only just one.

  7. coryfor3 - Mar 27, 2013 at 12:04 PM

    I can’t imagine that the culture was actually like that for everyone. Maybe for Proctor. I am sure not everyone is plowing through 12-18 beers per night.

  8. jm91rs - Mar 27, 2013 at 12:11 PM

    Seems like the teams would be smart to eliminate it all together just to cover their own asses in liability. Go out for some beers, go get high, I don’t care just don’t do it on my dollar in my building. Can you imagine the lawsuit if some major name player gets in a wreck and kills someone after drinking beers provided by the team after a game?

    Look at Dante Stallworth. He killed a man with his car because he was drunk, got sued and had to settle for a bunch of money (undisclosed amount I believe). Now imagine if he had done that while still drunk on beer the team provided for him after a game. I can guarantee that the team and league would be on that lawsuit and the amount would be far greater.

  9. RickyB - Mar 27, 2013 at 12:29 PM

    “But I tend to like stories where the moral is kind of ambivalent like this.”

    If this doesn’t sum up your Batman fanhood, nothing does.

    • stex52 - Mar 27, 2013 at 12:38 PM

      This ^

  10. brewcrewfan54 - Mar 27, 2013 at 2:09 PM

    Beer is delicious and awesome.

  11. sportsdrenched - Mar 27, 2013 at 2:25 PM

    Everytime that picture is posted I get the urge to find the Hamm’s Bear on Youtube and drink PBR. I know it’s weird, but I never claimed to be normal.

  12. FrustratedDolFan - Mar 27, 2013 at 4:33 PM

    Agreed, much like playing a round of golf and going into the club house for a “few beers”. After all, look what has happened to the Red Sox since they have at least publicly eliminated drinking in the club house. No story here, much to do about nothing that most do in their own every day life. Keep it in moderation.

  13. jimmymarlinsfan - Mar 27, 2013 at 8:04 PM

    The ball players I know are more likely to have a couple of good, micro brews and call it a night as opposed to 10-15 domestics.

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