No More Beer in the Clubhouse?

By now mostly everyone knows that Cardinals pitcher Josh Hancock was killed in a car crash, and that there’s heavy suspicion Hancock was driving drunk. I’ve already discussed several factors about the tie in between alcohol and baseball, for instance Tony La Russa’s Spring Training DUI, and the fact that the Cardinals home venue is named after Busch beers. Well in an effort to try and combat drunk-driving amongst players and staff members, Major League Baseball might be contemplating a ban on alcohol in clubhouses. It’s something the A’s did when pitcher Esteban Loaiza was arrested for drunk-driving, and it’s something to which Cubs manager Lou Piniella would not be opposed:

The Cubs don’t have any immediate plans to ban alcohol in the clubhouse, but if that’s what Major League Baseball or the club determines can help avoid tragedies such as the death of St. Louis Cardinals pitcher Josh Hancock, Cubs manager Lou Piniella said he would support it.

”I’m for what’s good for the player,” Piniella said Wednesday.

To tell you the truth, long gone are the days of players hanging out in the clubhouse after games, cracking open cold ones and enjoying a heater. From my one year of experience in a major league clubhouse, the players all get dressed, and get on out sooner rather than later. Meaning, even though most clubhouses are stocked with beer, there aren’t too many guys who are drinking them. But, in my eyes, it’s not the drinking that’s the problem — players should judge whether or not they can have a beer or two. To me the real problem is when people drive after drinking. That’s what must be stopped. I just don’t understand why people can’t call a cab or limo to drive them when they’re drunk. Doesn’t that seem to be the best solution?

(via Fark)

St. Louis Writer Said DUI Was Good for La Russa

Yes I realize that Tony La Russa’s DUI, mentioned in the previous post, is a month old, but now this issue is completely relevant. As my buddy Matt Watson pointed out to me, St. Louis Post-Dispatch columnist Bill McClellan (pictured) wrote in March that a DUI could help Cardinals manager Tony La Russa’s image with the local fans.

So while everyone will agree that drinking and driving is a bad thing, this will, in a strange way, help his relationship with St. Louis.

I guess that was McClellan’s way of saying the DUI gave La Russa street cred. But correct me if I’m wrong — McClellan’s espousing a message that DUIs are OK. Are you saying anyone who read that would’ve taken back the sentiment that getting a DUI would endear them to the public? Maybe you should have thought twice before you wrote that McClellan. Seems to me like it’s about the worse way you could possibly spin a prominent figure getting busted for a serious offense. You should have been using your position to remind people what a poor choice that was by La Russa, and what the potential dangers and harms there are of driving drunk. Instead, you decided to point out that a DUI will help La Russa’s image. Given what has now transpired with the St. Louis ballclub, I hope you regret your words and will choose to pen your next column on the message of why drinking and driving is wrong.

Oh, and if you’re about to leave a comment defending La Russa’s DUI, or what McClellan wrote, then you clearly are missing the point.

Crash Was Josh Hancock’s Second Car Accident Last Week

Thanks to fellow MLB FanHouser, Matt Watson, I have learned of a few more key details leading up to the unfortunate death of Cardinals reliever Josh Hancock. Turns out that the collision which ended Josh Hancock’s life early Sunday morning was his second collision of the week.

Three days earlier, Hancock had a close call when his vehicle edged several inches into the intersection of Yellow Brick Road and Illinois Route 3. A Sauget police spokesman said Monday that a tractor-trailer struck Hancock’s GMC Denali, tearing off the vehicle’s front bumper. “Just another inch or so and he could have died two days earlier, because that tractor-trailer was traveling about 45 to 50 miles per hour,” according to Sauget Police Chief Patrick Delaney.

Hancock walked away from that early Thursday morning crash uninjured, but he was late for the team’s afternoon game a few hours later. The club and several teammates said he had overslept.

Speculation was that he was hungover therefore rendering him unable to pitch in the game. And the Thursday crash sounds about on-par to me with a driver who would rear-end a parked tow-truck. What’s also of note, is that prior to Sunday’s collision, witnesses say Hancock was consuming alcohol at Mike Shannon’s restaurant (Shannon is a former Cardinals player and their current broadcaster):

The two witnesses said Hancock appeared impaired.

“He had a mixed drink in one hand and a cigarette in the other,” Vince said. “And my wife’s comment was, ‘He can barely put a sentence together.’”

And I’m guessing that’s an honest report. So I don’t care what the autopsy reveals, the story (without implicating Hancock) still serves as a reminder to everyone not to drink and drive. You may think it’s cool, you may carry a nonchalant attitude when you’re drinking, but there’s not a person who will care how badass you were for trying to suck it up and drive, when you crash.

As Matt and I discussed in a conversation, there are all sorts of other parallels you can tie into this story as speculation. First, you had Tony La Russa who was busted in Spring Training for a DUI, which would make you wonder whether or not drinking and driving was part of the clubhouse culture. Couple that with a stadium named after a brewing company — Busch Stadium — and you have to wonder what type of message was being relayed. I’m certainly getting into far off reaches, so I’ll leave you with this bottom line: just don’t drink and drive, and don’t let anyone you know drink and drive. Save your life, and save the lives of others.

Tony La Russa Does Not Like the St. Louis Post-Dispatch

As I alluded to in the previous post, Tony La Russa had a shouting match with St. Louis Post-Dispatch columnist Bernie Miklasz on Friday after the Cardinals 5-3 loss to the Cubs (click here to listen). La Russa was upset over an article that ran earlier in the day on Friday, detailing in literally poetic form, why the Cubs would not break their curse.

We put a new twist on an old poem* to capture in verse why the Cubs will never break the curse … and list the reasons they are destined to not win a World Series.

These are the cruelest of echoing words:

No Tinker. No Evers. No chance.

Spend all they can, Cubs still chasing the ‘Birds.

Clearly La Russa was not happy about reading the article. It’s bad enough to deal with one of his own players giving the Cubs bulletin board material and more incentive to win. But it’s much worse when a local reporter does the trick. As a result, he boycotted questions from Post-Dispatch reporters both before and after the game until getting into an argument with Miklasz.

“That cheap shot against the Cubs, I don’t want to be a part of it, and I want them, I want everybody to know that the St. Louis Cardinals and their manager have an absolute disregard for that,” La Russa said.

“I know it’s the editor [who] makes those decisions,” La Russa said. “But I have a couple of ways [to protest], and the one way I’m going to do it is I’m not going to answer questions from the Post-Dispatch. If you disagree with that, write that you disagree with it. I don’t care. I really don’t. What I care is that I don’t put my stamp, any way shape or form, on the cheap shot like that at a Major League organization.”

I understand La Russa here, problem is, by not talking to the Post-Dispatch, it provides more fuel for their writers to tear apart the Cardinals in the paper. Probably not the wisest move by La Russa, but I understand why he’d be pissed about what was written.

Tony La Russa Boycots St Louis Post-Dispatch

Check out the exchange Cardinals Manager Tony La Russa had with St. Louis Post-Dispatch columnist Bernie Miklasz following the Cardinals 5-3 loss to the Cubs on Friday. He had been boycotting questions from Post-Dispatch reporters because he was unhappy about an article that appeared in the paper on Friday morning detailing why the Cubs would not break the curse.

MP3 File

This Kid’s Really Good at Batting Stances

When you were younger, didn’t you fashion your swing after your favorite player? Moreover, didn’t you used to be able to impersonate the stances of every player on your team, and many of the best players in the league? Shoot, I used to have Will Clark down perfectly, with the stiff leg and the sleeve roll up, I was money. My buddy Rey used to do a mean Darin Erstad. Mickey Tettleton used to be a favorite amongst my crowd, with his stiff-bodied slow bat raise. Oh, the days.

Well, I’m a long ways away from reproducing, but I can guarantee you my kid will be able to do this, via Matt Watson at MLB FanHouse:

Baseball Preview: St. Louis Cardinals

Last year’s record and finish are in parenthesis with projected improvement/decline indicated by plus or minus.

St. Louis Cardinals (83-78, 1st in NL Central) +3 games

Get Crunked: Albert Pujols is the best player in the game. By far. As long as he’s around and healthy, the Cardinals won’t be a sub .500 team come the end of the season. The impact he has on the game is unreal and the Cardinals know this. Chris Carpenter could very well be the best starter in the NL and has been totally dominant for three seasons in a row, proving he’s not a fluke. Scott Rolen was effective last year despite his shoulder injury, and he still can slug and play great defense. Post-season star in the bullpen, Adam Wainwright, looks ready to embrace his new role as a starter. Between him and Anthony Reyes, the Cards have some good young arms in the rotation that will impress. Oh yeah, between Rolen, Kennedy, Molina, and Pujols, it’s a very good defensive team.

Party Foul: The bullpen is much weaker now that Wainwright is gone. They need Isringhausen to rebound from hip surgery and come back strong, otherwise they’ll struggle to close games. Josh Hancock and Brad Thompson must build on their seasons from last year. Injuries are the other issue for the club. In addition to Izzy’s recovery, and Rolen’s shoulder, Jim Edmonds is already hurt, as is Juan Encarnacion. Luckily Preston Wilson, Scott Spiezio, and So Taguchi can carry the load in the meantime.Â

Albert Pujols, best player in baseball

What’d my GM do: Jocketty lost 3/5 of the rotation — Suppan, Weaver, and Marquis who aren’t stars, but whose games elevated in the post-season. Adam Wainwright and Braden Looper were moved into the rotation from the bullpen, and I think Wainwright will shine. Adam Kennedy was signed to a short-term deal to play 2B. His bat isn’t worth much these days, but his defense more than makes up for it. Other than that, it was a pretty quiet off-season for the defending World Series champs.

Lay it on me Straight: Having the best pitcher in the league and the best hitter in the game is enough to keep this team above .500 no matter what. While it’s not a stellar team, and although they lost Marquis and Suppan, I think they’ll be better this year. It seemed like a lot went wrong last year that will be corrected this year.Â

So where my boys gonna finish right now: They’ll be at the top of the division once again, this time a few games better than where they finished last year. They shouldn’t tank and make the race as close as it became down the stretch last year.

Can we be better than that: In a perfect world, this could be a 90 win team, at best. Most likely they’ll be around 86-87 wins for the year, good enough to take the crown.