You’ve probably heard the news by now, but if not, here it is: Tony La Russa, the manager of the defending World Series champion St. Louis Cardinals, was arrested in Florida this morning on charges of driving under the influence.
I wish I had something profound to say about this whole thing, but to be honest, what is there to say? La Russa, who gained fame around here for managing the A’s to a World Series crown in 1989 (and two other American League titles sandwiched around it) and for his establishment of the Animal Rescue Foundation, is just the latest in a long line of athletes and coaches who wasn’t smart enough to call a cab or limo.
Does this make him a criminal? Well, if it’s proven he did so, yes. The laws regulating drunk-driving have been on the books for decades, and the awareness of the problem has been in our face via public service announcements and tragic news stories for just as long. But no matter how much this problem is discussed, there will always be people who get behind the wheel when they shouldn’t.
That said, let’s emphasize that La Russa shouldn’t be treated any worse (or better) than any ordinary citizen. And as we all know, it’s not just athletes or coaches who do this thing. Obviously, we hear more about them, but I’ve known a few people in my day who got their names in the paper as a result of driving while intoxicated.
Unfortunately, this is a problem that will exist as long as drinking is legal. By definition, alcohol impairs the part of the brain that deals with judgement. My guess is that Tony would admit he was lacking his good stuff in that department on Wednesday night.
He should just feel fortunate he wasn’t killed, and even more fortunate that he didn’t kill somebody.