Major League Baseball Eyes Blanket Booze Ban

By Dirk Hanson 10/25/11

MLB's Joe Torre backs an alcohol ban after the Red Sox clubhouse blowout.

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Lester: pitcher and drinker. Simultaneously. Photo via

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?

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Dirk Hanson, MA, is a freelance science writer and the author of The Chemical Carousel: What Science Tells Us About Beating Addiction. He is also the author of The New Alchemists: Silicon Valley and the Microelectronics Revolution. He has worked as a business and science reporter for numerous magazines and trade publications including Wired, Scientific American, The Dana Foundation and more. He currently edits the Addiction Inbox blog. Email: [email protected]