February 12, 2015

The St. Louis #Cardinals face some backlash on their #OT18 patch

Oscar Taveras — should Cards
have a commemorative patch?
All St. Louis Cardinal fans, and many dedicated baseball fans, are aware that the St. Louis Cardinals' young outfield call-up, Oscar Taveras, was killed in the offseason. Paul Lukas, who does ESPN's UniWatch, talks about the patch the team will wear — and the controversy behind it, which is getting further discussion at Hardball Talk. (That said, if blogs amplify pre-Internet 'controversy" tenfold, social media does that a hundredfold.)

The controversy is that, if you want to look at it bluntly, Taveras killed himself, as well as his girlfriend, Edilia Arvero, because he was driving with a blood-alcohol content 5 times over the legal limit in the Dominican Republic. (Note that I said "killed," which I know puts it starkly, but did not say "murdered," which puts it wrongly.)

At the same time, Alcoholics Anonymous calls alcohol "cunning, baffling and powerful." If we modify that somewhat, to "the irrational drive for too much alcohol is cunning, baffling and powerful," we're just about right. I've blogged before about the irrationality of drunkenness and college campus sexual behavior and issues of consent, among other things.  These issues aren't "easy."

(This is NOT an endorsement of AA as "the solution" to alcoholism, nor is it claiming that Taveras was an alcoholic.)

Of course, this isn't a first for the Birds. Josh Hancock killed himself (but nobody else) in a DWI before the 2007 season. And, as the Hall of Fame informs us with this link, the team wore a patch for him.

And, it's nowhere near a first for Cardinals driving while intoxicated.

Yahoo reminds us that David Freese had two DUIs, in 2002 and 2009. And, ESPN's take on his second DUI notes that Scott Spiezio got one in late 2007, before the start of the 2008 season, and that, even though he'd had a decent year in 2007 as a role player, the Cards immediately cut him.

And, of course, we can't forget long-time manager Tony La Russa and his own DUI arrest, which came less than two months before Hancock's fatal crash.

The patch, illustrated at left, is iffy. I wouldn't do it, if I were the Cardinals, without PSA announcements connected to it.

That could start with videos on the Jumbotron, urging people to not drink and drive. An obvious first one would come from Carlos Martinez, who tried to stop Taveras that night.

We would also then have fliers — if not mandatory with beer sales, at least at beer booths. Stamp beer cups with Mothers Against Drunk Driving's logo or something, too.

That might not be perfect, and I don't claim my ideas are great. But, rather than simply castigating the team, some constructive criticism may work better.

I sent this Tweet:

A more generic one,

Then this one:

To the team's official account.

Let's see if anything happens. (Since sending them, another HBT commenter suggested putting "MADD" below the original patch to make a new one.)

Oh, and Tony La Russa, to the degree at all that your DUI reflects a "culture" during your years as Cards' manager, why don't YOU cut a Don't Drink and Drive video for MLB as well as your own personal animal rescue work?

I don't mean that in terms of punishment; you're years past that. Besides, I don't claim to have an innocent past on this issue.

But, if you truly care about the Cardinals of today, many of whom you managed, and if MLB with a new commissioner in Rob Manfred, and you formerly working in the commish's office under Bud Selig, this would be a way of making an effort to fight this problem, as well as any part you may have had in it, if you did.

The idea is that the Cardinals should work to make this so that this is not an issue they're facing every few years.

Beyond that, in today's Net world, it's de rigeur PR to do something like I suggested above. If the Cards had, they probably wouldn't be getting flamed so much.

This all said, back to the patch, or to patches in general.

Paul Lukas raises one other issue, too, and in the age of social media, especially, I think it’s a very good one:
In addition, the bar for being uni-memorialized seems to have gotten much lower. Memorial patches used to be reserved for former players and major figures related to the team. Nowadays, for better or worse (as with most things, it's probably a bit of both), we see memorials for the owner's wife, the minority stakeholder who nobody even realized was connected to the team, the assistant trainer's brother-in-law, and so on. According to a breakdown on the Baseball Hall of Fame's website, there have been 49 uniform memorials over the past five seasons. To put that in perspective, that's more than the total that appeared in the five decades from 1931 to 1981. Moreover, players on some MLB teams have even worn other teams' memorial patches.

Have we distanced ourselves from death too much? Do people need to hear Bach’s beautiful “Komm süsser Tod,” or the “Dies Irae”?

Like this?

Come, sweet death, come, blessed rest!
Come lead me to peace ...

Oh, and I have a dozen or more requiems in my CD library; semi-regular readers should think it not at all strange for a secularist to listen to religious music about death and the afterlife. I can appreciate such things, and the spirit behind them even while not accepting the belief systems.

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