On May 5, the Orioles’ 2006 first round draft pick, Billy Rowell, tested positive for marijuana and received a 50-game suspension. Following the suspension, Billy called Major League Baseball “hypocritical” for their treatment of him. While that may not be the most appropriate word, the MLB policy on drugs and other illegal activity is certainly inconsistent.
In February 2011, Miguel Cabrera, the current Detroit Tigers’ third baseman, was arrested for DUI after being found in a disabled S.U.V. after he allegedly forced other vehicles off the road and threatened to blow up the bar he had been drinking at previously. While Cabrera rightly faced legal repercussions, the league was mysteriously quiet on the issue. Cabrera did not receive any disciplinary action from the league; he was not suspended, and he did not receive a fine. Cabrera also has a history of both alcohol abuse and violence. In 2009, he was arrested after a domestic disturbance where he had been under the influence of alcohol. I do not mean to single out Miguel Cabrera. Many MLB players have had problems with alcohol in the past. My intention here is to illustrate the bias regarding the penalties given to players by MLB – penalties which are not given out based on the severity of the player’s behavior, but simply on which substance the player puts in his body.
The league policy on alcohol abuse and violence off the field may be far less stringent than its marijuana use policy, but the difference in how these two cases were treated is astonishing.
Billy Rowell tested positive for marijuana, a harmless substance that he used presumably in the privacy of his own home. No one was hurt. For this, he received a 50-game suspension from the league.
Miguel Cabrera, while under the influence of alcohol, has assaulted his wife, wrecked his car, threatened to blow up a bar, and endangered the lives of other drivers by forcing them from the road. He received no suspension.
It certainly seems as though MLB needs to reconsider its priorities.