Cocaine in sports has been a theme here at Video God this week. Following the story of Lamar Odom nearly dying because of the drug, comes a report from Huffington Post about the pervasiveness of blow in Major League Baseball.
The HuffPo piece is written by Andy Martino, a long-time baseball reporter who asked two active players and two former players about cocaine use in the sport. He writes:
“Three of the players offered educated guesses that ranged from 5 percent to 25 percent for cocaine, and 25 percent to 75 percent for marijuana. A fourth player, this one a current star for a contending team, offered a more modest estimate, saying that ‘one or two guys. on his ballclub used either cocaine or marijuana.”
Martino’s report comes less than a year after the death of Jose Fernandez, a rising star pitcher for the Miami Marlins, who died when a boat he was piloting crashed, killing himself and two friends last September. Fernandez was found to have alcohol and cocaine in his system. In November 2015, Braves pitcher Tommy Hanson died from organ failure brought on by cocaine and alcohol poisoning.
Martino also sheds light on the baseball’s drug-testing policy. Yes, recreational drugs are prohibited in the sport, but the agreement between the league and players’ union calls for testing for such drugs only when there’s “reasonable cause.”
While 25 percent of pro ballplayers doing blow constitutes a big number, if in fact the higher range of the estimates are true, the HuffPo report unnecessarily rings alarm bells, per typical in today’s hysteria-driven media.
Martino’s sample size of four players is way too small from which to glean anything meaningful. The range he arrives at – 5 to 25 percent – is all you need to determine this is far from a scientific study.
Also, it’s far too convenient to pin Fernandez’s death on cocaine. Bad judgement, yes, of which snorting lines while operating boat is certainly part – but there were a multitude of factors that led to the crash, most significantly driving in the dark. We’d rather be passengers in a boat driven in the daylight by a guy who has had a few bumps rather than one driven in the dark by a sober person.
Shit happens, and when it happens in a high-profile arena like baseball, the media tends to project it onto the rest of the sport – it makes for a story people will read.
We’re not here to deny some baseball players do coke. Of course they do, just like a lot of other folks (Martino cites National Institute on Drug Abuse data that says 0.6 percent of Americans aged 12 or older were cocaine users as of 2014, a number that feels way too low for us). We just contend there’s no need to dial up the hysteria.