Baseball is just not like other sports. Cigarettes and chewing tobacco are still commonplace, and the typical dugout is beginning to resemble your favorite corner tavern. As their season collapsed in September, the Boston Red Sox resorted to drinking beer in the clubhouse during games. Joe Torre, Major League Baseball’s vice president of operations, revealed after Sunday night’s Game 4 of the World Series that officials are considering a ban on alcohol in big-league clubhouses. “We’re supposed to be role models for youngsters,” Torre argued. “Some clubs had done it on their own. It’s something we’ll certainly look at.” Red Sox pitcher Jon Lester admitted that he and his fellow hurlers got into the habit of knocking back a few during games, according to reports in the Boston Globe. It was “the wrong thing to do,” Lester admitted—while insisting it had no connection with his team's wretched September collapse. Meanwhile, Torre’s old team, which he managed to four World Series titles, has its own problems, according to the New England Sports Network: "Jason Giambi and Roger Clemens would routinely drink beer on the dugout bench when they played for the Yankees, passing back and forth what Giambi called his 'protein shake'—code for a cup of beer," the TV network reported last week. "Rally beers are big in the clubhouse," said one insider. "Guys would drink them all the time, on the bench, in the clubhouse, in the training room. It's common.” Fan drinking is excessive but tolerated; should it be any different for the players? “Why should they ban booze?” asks John Beattie of the New England Sports Network. “There are tens of thousands of fans crushing beers just feet away, why shouldn’t players be able to wind down with a High Life or raise a few Manweisers with a teammate after three-plus hours of baseball?” Um, maybe because the kids are watching?
Long-serving Saturday Night Live star Darrell Hammond, best known for his quirky impressions of figures like Bill Clinton and Donald Trump, drops the comedy in his upcoming memoir, revealing trips to hospitals in straightjackets and time spent in a Harlem crack house. In God, If You’re Not Up There, I’m Fucked, which comes out on November 8, 56-year-old Hammond says that in order to escape memories of his traumatic childhood—in which he was stabbed, beaten and subjected to electric shocks by his mother—he turned to booze and cocaine while he was a part of the show. "I kept a pint of Remy in my desk at work. The drinking calmed my nerves and quieted the disturbing images in my head...when drinking didn't work, I cut myself," the New York Post excerpts. Previously diagnosed as bipolar and schizophrenic, Hammond also writes about a time in 1998 where cops took him from the NBC infirmary to New York Hospital in a straitjacket. In 2002, Hammond said he had to get "more creative" so others at work wouldn't catch on to his addiction, so he began adding large amounts of coke to his binge-drinking habits. He relapsed in 2009, during his 14th season on SNL, and "had the brilliant idea I should try crack,” he writes, which led to his time in the crack house. In this CNN video, Hammond talks about his traumatic childhood, his parents, his diagnoses and his "soul-killing" meds.
Soccer players from the Czech Republic's Tynec nad Labem and Jestrabi Lhota teams, who were psyching themselves up for a county championship game on Saturday, were aghast to discover that the ref running their crucial clash was stumbling drunk—and there was nothing they could do about it. Referee Tomas Fidra arrived in a taxi having celebrated his birthday with the help of some of the renowned local beers. Witnesses said that he "smelled like a brewery." Nevertheless, the game kicked off and the inebriated official lurched through it, making increasingly erratic decisions while falling to the ground so frequently that he ended up with a "dirty sweater," covered in marks from the white lines painted on the field. The problem for the players was that competition rules make no provision for cases of drunken refs—"If we refused to play, we would have been threatened with a fine and points deduction," explained Jestrabi Lhota official Karel Dusek. Matters escalated after 32 minutes, when a Jestrabi Lhota player politely queried a decision and was promptly shown a red card, expelling him from the game. Fidra then sent off two other Jestrabi Lhota players for no reason, leaving the team down to eight men versus the usual 11. At this point, with both teams still afraid to leave the pitch and the score tied at 1-1, the Tynec players sportingly stood around in the middle of the field, kicking the ball between themselves without attacking their sadly depleted opponents. The crowd applauded. Play was finally suspended when cops arrived and Fidra was persuaded to take a breathalyzer test, although he could legitimately have refused. His reported blood alcohol reading of 1.94—more than 24 times the US driving limit—suggests either that his survival was a miracle, or that the test was no more accurate than some of his calls. In any case, regional soccer authorities declared the game void in the spirit of fair play and rescheduled it. Fidra could be suspended beyond his next birthday.
- US Agencies Infiltrate Cartels Across Mexico [New York Times]
- States Target Prescriptions by "Pill Mills" [USA Today]
- The Cocaine Road—from Colombia to Columbus, Georgia [Ledger-Enquirer]
- Tons of Marijuana Found at Indianapolis Warehouse [Chicago Tribune]
- 87-Year-Old Indiana Man Says He Was "Forced" to Haul 228 Pounds of Cocaine [The Detroit News]
- Cache of Arms, Heroin Seized in Punjab [The Times of India]
- UK Doctors Failing to Cite Smoking as Cause of Death [Medical News Today]
- Teacher Made Vodka Drinks and Had Sex with Two Boys, Student Testifies [Dayton Daily News]
In an eye-opening interview with the BBC, former Mexican president Vincente Fox has slammed President Felipe Calderon’s approach to Mexico’s bloody drug war as a failure: “It is only one single strategy—violence against violence—that will never solve the problem.” Fox, a close ally of former president George W. Bush who led Mexico from 2000-2006, adds that deploying the army to fight the drug lords has caused violations of human rights and of due judicial process. His country, he says, needs to try a very different approach: “Withdrawing the army out of the barrio, and... legalizing the production, distribution and consumption of drugs. All together and for all drugs. All the way.” He goes on to criticize US policy toward Mexico, claiming that in return for the $500 million the US has given Mexico to fight this war, Mexico is paying in “blood and dead bodies.” He suggests, “we legalize consumption and then we can move out of enforcement, and dedicate the money, the effort and the public policies to attending a health program…like [the US] did 100 years ago in Chicago until the prohibition was eradicated…then the solution came.” Responding to the charge that he's being unrealistic in expecting the US to legalize drugs, Fox says: “This nation—contrary to what you’re saying—is about to change. There is a Gallup poll, national…now 50% of US citizens accept the legalization of drugs." This is true—although the poll he cites relates specifically to the legalization of marijuana. Current president Calderon, despite vigorously fighting the cartels in his own country, has also previously hinted that a change in US drug policy would be desirable. And Vicente Fox is adamant that listening to the growing support for legalization in the US is the only realistic way for the drug war to end: "[The US] government is saying no, no, no. But people, public opinion...is for legalizing.”
The life of a dog that viciously attacked a young child has been spared by a British court—because the animal was drunk at the time of its crime. Ten-year-old Joe Pickering leaned over his garden fence in Colne, Lancashire on the afternoon of July 2 and was "gouged" above the right eye by his neighbor's Staffordshire Bull Terrier, Diesel. The wound was bad enough to require a skin graft; the boy's mom described it as "so deep you could almost see the skull." Police mounted a civil prosecution against the dog's owner, 24-year-old James Holmes—and under Britain's Dangerous Dogs Act Diesel could have been destroyed. But the court heard that Paul Ashworth, the uncle of Holmes' girlfriend, had poured a quantity of Stella Artois lager down the dog's throat prior to the attack, because it was panting in the hot sun. Earlier, he'd taken the animal for a walk without permission, during which it had been bitten by another dog. Holmes pleaded with the court—successfully, it turned out—to be allowed to keep his pet. He has employed a dog psychologist, David Gilman, to work with Diesel since the attack took place. Gilman reported to the court, "I can't recommend the uncle be put down but I'll plead strongly on the dog's behalf." Following the decision—which angered Joe Pickering's family—Gilman added, "I can't underestimate what the effects of giving beer to a dog on a hot day would be... Just like humans drinking outside in the sun it would have had effects on the dog's brain which I believe would lead to this behavior." The case compares to ones in which human drinkers are found not culpable after drinks have been spiked. Stella, a 5% Belgian lager, is widely known by the nickname "Wife-Beater" in the UK, due to the perceived aggression of those who drink it.