Thursday, November 13, 2014

FIVES TIMES THE LEGAL LIMIT


Five times the legal limit.

You can do a Google search or check the archives of your local newspaper and
odds are you'll never read a story about a person who was arrested or in an accident
with a blood-alcohol level five times the legal limit.

If you did manage to come up with a story containing those five words with that number,
chances are the person you read about was dead just like Oscar Taveras.

On October 26, the rookie outfielder of the St. Louis Cardinals crashed his car (pictured
above) in the Dominican Republic killing himself and his 18-year-old girlfriend.
On Wednesday, toxicologist reports confirmed that Taveras was drunk out of his
mind at the time of the crash with a blood-alcohol level fives time the legal limit.

Five times the legal limit.


At 22-years old, Taveras was a bottomless barrel of talent with superstar written
all over it. He had his entire life ahead of him, as did his young girlfriend. It's sad that
as Major League Baseball coronated Mike Trout and Clayton Kershaw, two dashing
young players with jaw-dropping talent, as their respective leagues' MVP, it has to try
to digest the news that Taveras had a blood-alcohol level fives times the legal limit
when he died.

Taveras was hailed a hero in his home country after his death,  but after the
revelation that he had a blood-alcohol level five times the legal limit, it's tough to look
at him that way anymore. I'm sure the parents of his girlfriend certainly don't view
him in that light.

When we read about a person who gets a DUI with an blood-alcohol level twice
the legal limit, we say, "Wow, they really must've tied one on." If a person has an
alcohol-level three times the legal limit, we gasp and say, "Holy mackerel, they
must've been  drinking all night before getting in a car. Thank God they didn't kill
themselves or anyone else."

Now, think about the amount of drinking someone with an alcohol-level five times
the legal limit had to do. "Holy" is usually followed by a few expletives and an
exclamation point.  A person can hardly function at the level, much less drive
a car. It's insane.

Oh, I understand the legal limit in the Dominican Republic is a lower number
than the one in most states in our country, but that doesn't really matter. Taveras
was a mind-boggling five times over the legal limit.

He didn't know when to say when and apparently, nobody else did, either. As
a result, two very young, talented, and beautiful people died. It didn't have to
happen. It shouldn't have happened.

Every person is responsible for their actions, but it's hard to believe anybody
who was around Taveras and his girlfriend that night didn't notice he was a walking
and driving time bomb. A lot of drinkers can camoflouge their buzz or manage to
put on a good face when they are near going twice the legal limit, but nobody can
put on an Oscar-worthy acting job when they're pounding enough drinks to satisfy
a small party.

After learning of the death of Taveras, John Mozeliak, general manager  of the
Cardinals said, "We have an obligation to use this as an opportunity to educate our
players that they must take responsibility for themselves both on and off the field."

That's great, but most players should have learned about being responsible for
themselves and the ones they're with long before they reach their 18th birthday.
Unfortunately, a lot of them never learn. Taveras isn't the first professional athlete
to die after a night of drinking and he won't be the last. The Cardinals dealt with
this same type of tragedy in 2007 when pitcher Josh Hancock was killed after
getting in his vehicle after having one too many.

Alcohol is as much a part of baseball as pine tar, rosin bags, and 95-mile-an-hour
fastballs. Players drink and often drink a lot. So do many MLB fans. If
you've been to game and seen a few of them get all liquored up, one thought
often comes to mind, "How the hell are they going to get home after drinking like that?"

During the course of a televised game, a good 75 percent of the commercials include
beer makers. Many of them are major sponsors of Major League Baseball and Anheuser-Busch
tells us to drink responsibly. Yep, drink often and drink a lot, but just do it responsibly.


A lot of players never get the message or don't learn because of either arrogance,
ignorance, or both. They feel bulletproof and say, "Hey, I can control myself. There's
no way anything can happen to me. I'm a professional athlete. I'm good." I'm sure
many people, including myself, reading this article have said the same thing at one
time or another.  Let's not kid ourselves. We either got lucky we weren't stopped or
somehow managed to get home without wrecking our car or ourselves. That certainly
doesn't make it right and unfortunately, some of us never learn.

Taveras didn't learn from Josh Brent, the defensive lineman of the Dallas Cowboys
who was activated Tuesday, less than two years after crashing his car that killed
friend and teammate, Jerry Brown. Brent had an alcohol-level twice the legal limit.

All DUI's can be avoided. So can tragedies like the one that took the lives of
Taveras and his girlfriend. Drinking excessively is hardly worth it, neither is
drinking at all, especially when you have so much to live for, baseball player or not.



When will athletes ever learn? When will we all learn that drinking is pointless and
drinking and driving is one of the worst decisions a person can ever make, especially
when you're five times over the legal limit.


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