Major League Baseball is trying to deal with the news of yet another player abusing drugs or alcohol. The news leaves fans hoping the League will be able to tighten rules and monitoring so that baseball players, who serve as role models for young people, are playing clean and sober.
Pitching on Cocaine
Former Red Sox pitcher Dennis “Oil Can” Boyd has come public with his story of drug abuse. He reports that he abused cocaine during his 10 year career, even pitching with the drug in his system. “There wasn’t one ballpark that I probably didn’t stay up all night, until 4 or 5 in the morning, and the same thing is in your system,’’ Boyd said. “It ain’t like you had time to go and do it while you were in the game, which I have (done) that.’’ (1)
Boyd himself explains that if he would have been sober, he could have had a better career. “Some of the best games that I’ve ever, ever pitched in the major leagues, I stayed up all night. I’d say two-thirds of them,’’ he said, “and if I had (gone) to bed, I would have won 150 ballgames in the time span that I played and … I felt like my career was cut short for a lot of reasons.’’ (1)
Continued Drug Abuse
Boyd played for the MLB from 1982 to 1991, during which time he said he never had a drug test. He partly blames coaches and the League for the continuation of his drug abuse. “I never had a drug test as long as I played baseball,” Boyd said. “I was told that, yeah, if you don’t stop doing this we’re going to put you into rehab, and I told them … I’m going to do what I have to do, I have to win ballgames. We’ll talk about that in the offseason. Right now I have to win ballgames.” (2)
He also blames them for his career ending. “I was a person you could count on. …. What I was doing off the field didn’t make me a bad person. It made me a dysfunctional person. I was treated like I was a bad person.” (2)
Preventing Drug and Alcohol Abuse
Boyd is suddenly very outspoken on this topic, but he is certainly not the only one dealing with substance abuse. Even greats like Mickey Mantle struggled with alcohol abuse. “My last four or five years with the Yankees, I didn’t realize I was ruining myself with all the drinking,” Mantle told Sports Illustrated in 1994. “I used to see guys come into Yankee Stadium from Detroit or Chicago. They’d be out taking batting practice, all of them with hangovers. But today I can admit that all the drinking shortened my career.” (3)
In an effort to set a good example for youth, the MLB Hall of Fame has announced that they will start promoting a healthy lifestyle among young people. Their new program BASE (Be a Superior Example) will educate young people about the dangers of drugs. It is important for the MLB and other sports organizations to work to provide good role models in a time when so many public figures are falling to drug and alcohol abuse.