Tim Lincecum Busted for Marijuana
You may have missed the news that San Francisco Giant superstar Tim Lincecum was busted for marijuana possession — heck, I’m about a week late in hearing about it. Which brings up the obvious question posted originally by my pal Ted Berg: Does anyone care?
I’m a little unnerved that this bit of news flew under the radar. Lincecum is among the best three pitchers in baseball right now, and at 25 has a potential Hall of Fame future ahead of him. And he broke the law by possessing a controlled substance. Yet no one seems to care.
Maybe because he plays in California, where marijuana is grown and embraced by Left Coasters. Maybe it’s because marijuana is now legal to use with a medical prescription, and therefore it “seems” like a lesser crime than, say, being caught with cocaine. Or maybe it’s because he didn’t have a seizure after smoking pot.
Something just isn’t sitting right with me in regard to the complacency and acceptance of this news. It could be because I clearly remember the Mets’ front office doing major damage control when it was discovered in 2002 that “several” of their ballplayers were pot users. You may remember the photo to the left of Grant Roberts that sent everyone into a tizzy — and led to Tony Tarasco being jettisoned from the ballclub.
Then again, maybe I’m confused why no one cares about Lincecum’s crime, yet so many people are outraged by Andre Agassi’s recent admission to using crystal meth, and were talking for days on end when Michael Phelps admitted to smoking pot. Or perhaps I’m confused because Lincecum gets a slap on the wrist, while Ricky Williams lost millions of his bonus and a few years of his NFL career for smoking marijuana. There should be some consistency, shouldn’t there?
I vividly remember the big-time drug problem in baseball in the early 1980s, an ugly black mark on the game that was completely exposed during the Pittsburgh Drug Trials. Star players such as Keith Hernandez, Lee Mazzilli, Dave Parker, Tim Raines, Willie Aikens, Vida Blue and a host of others admitted to buying and using drugs — be they cocaine, amphetamines, marijuana, or substances. They weren’t the only ones, though — through the 80s several other players were exposed and/or reprimanded, including Dwight Gooden, Darrell Porter, Steve Howe, and Pascual Perez (among others). This was around the same time Nancy Reagan was preaching “Just Say No to Drugs”, and high schoolers such as myself were treated to anti-drug education and scare tactics from our health teachers, David Toma, frying-egg “your brain on drugs” commercials, and the “Scared Straight” program. Twenty years ago, it was a big deal if an athlete was caught with illegal drugs — partially because kids presumably looked up to pro athletes, and also because having drug-offendng criminals on your sports team or in your league was tarnishing to your image. It took MLB many, many years of suspensions, rehabs, and outreach programs to clean up its image in regard to cocaine and marijuana use — or, was it simply replaced by steroid use?
According to the MLB drug policy, marijuana is a banned substance. However, MLB does not test for it, because it is “not a performance-enhancing substance” (we know this because of the Geovany Soto incident during the WBC). By focusing solely on PEDs and ignoring marijuana, cocaine, ecstasy, LSD, and other “drugs of abuse”, it appears that MLB doesn’t have a drug problem. Maybe NFL commissioner Roger Goodell can learn something from that policy — by ignoring everything other than PEDs, and thereby turning the other way when the Ricky Williamses, Randy Mosses, and Pac-Man Joneses do drugs, his league would have a much cleaner image, dontcha think? Hmm ….
Are you at least slightly concerned that MLB doesn’t particularly care whether their players are using “drugs of abuse”? Comment below, and please indicate whether you remember what MLB went through in the 1980s to “clean up the league”.