Friday, August 24, 2012

Meth in Bowling Green

This post started out as an e-mail to Andy, but got a little out of control and turned into an open letter for the blog about 3/4's the way through.


Did you see this story about the three players on the Tampa Rays A-ball team in Bowling Green who were suspended for meth use? How crazy is that? I have a few thoughts on it, but you need to see the picture in this story, epic. First of all, kind of funny it happened in the Midwest league. Where else? Maybe in the Cal league (Bakersfield). And this is weird on a few different levels. The only real prospect involved is Ryan Brett, who's two weeks older than me, which is sad and horrifying at the same time. On top of that, he was hitting .285/.348/.393. That's as a twenty year old, in the Midwest League and ON METH. I doubt he got high before games, but the lack of sleep and other effects have to take a toll. The other two players were 23 and 24, each pitchers two years out of college. What kind of environment was around this team? I feel bad for players like Drew Vettleson who are being surrounded by these guys. 

Clearly these guys need help and if any team has experience with players suffering from addiction its Tampa, but it will be interesting to see how these guys are handled. There's the obligatory 50-game suspension from the league, which will carry into next season, then any legal punishment on top of that (I could only find Michigan's law, which is up to a year for methamphetamine use - misdemeanor). But the most interesting will be Tampa's patience with the kids. Will they show the same patience they did with Josh Hamilton? All three are considerably less talented than he and the new front office just barely overlapped with Hamilton, so there's no reason for the organization to react exactly the same. However, this brings a few more questions.

 One, will the players be able to have successful baseball careers? Josh Hamilton proved it is possible. And I don't know if this point has much credibility as other people work past this sort of thing quite often. But on the other hand, their addiction could outlast their young age. 

Two, you have 100's of other ballplayers to worry about, is it prudent to risk having these guys in the clubhouse? On the one (humanistic) hand, I hate to write off people like this. I mean, one mistake shouldn't break a career. On the other (rational) hand, these guys had a slim chance of making The Show as is and likely don't have real production in their future. Beyond that, there is an infinite supply of players who would kill for the chance they squandered.

There are probably a million other factors to be considered and questions to be asked; this story is so unique and fascinating. It will probably have to wait until next year to actual see what the Rays do, until then it's a sad and endlessly fascinating story about the relationship of a business, employees, bad choices and a disease.

No comments:

Post a Comment