A few days ago, Andy Martino of the Huffington Post wrote a piece about how cocaine is secretly a huge problem in Major League Baseball. You can read the article here. Now Martino covered both the Phillies and the Mets for years so the guy has credibility, but the article just felt odd to me.
To summarize, Martino said that he talked to some players who anonymously gave him information saying that up to 25% of MLB players do coke, and up to 15% are “cocaine users.” Additionally some sources in the article said that up to 75% of MLB players smoke weed. The point was to show that unless there is a reason, MLB does not test for “recreational” drugs and maybe that should change.
Let’s start with weed. I’m not going to get all Stephen A Smith here.
While I’m not a “weed guy,” it feels like it’s almost de facto legal at this point. It doesn’t shock me that a bunch of 21-40 year old dudes with a shit ton of money do weed. Truth be told, baseball is a sport in which you’re always sore or hurt. I’ve never played 162 games over the course of 6 months, but I have played probably 55-60 games in a little over two months a few times and soreness is just part of that life. If smoking the pots takes a little bit of the edge off, I don’t think anyone other than Goose Gossage will really care, especially if marijuana becomes legal in the next couple years.
Coke is a different story. Again, I don’t think it’s a shocking revelation that baseball players, guys in the prime of their life with money to spend, are doing coke. I do get the concern here though. Two players over the last three years have had deaths that had connections to coke. Tommy Hanson’s death in 2015 was directly connected to cocaine and then last September Jose Fernandez had coke in his system when he crashed his boat into a jetty. The Fernandez death shook the baseball world. 24 year old kid, who was primed to be one of the best pitchers of his generation ended his promising life due to bad decisions, alcohol, and coke.
So maybe the solution is to randomly drug test for recreational drugs. Maybe, until marijuana is legalized, you give out different suspensions based on if players test positive for weed, coke, or something else. MLB has cracked down incredibly hard on performance enhancing drugs over the past twenty years. If the league sees cocaine usage as a serious problem, they absolutely have the ability to make a change.
Like I said, the article made some good points, but it’s important to remember that there were no hard facts. All of the information came from anonymous interviews with players. Some players said there wasn’t a huge problem, while others said there was somewhat of an issue. There were no surveys or anything like that so all of the information is alleged.
In the end, do I think the cocaine problem is like that of the 1980’s with Pittsburgh Drug Trials with Keith Hernandez doing lines in the clubhouse between innings and Tim Raines keeping coke in his back pocket during games which is why he only slid headfirst? No. It seems to me that back then, the players used coke almost as a PED, whereas today, it’s probably more of an after game use. But then again, who knows?
The last thing I’d like to say about the Huffington Post article is that while it was informative, interesting, and well written, I couldn’t help but be a bit angry with it. Major League Baseball is doing well in the public eye. This article almost served as a catalyst for an inevitable witch hunt. I think it’s unfair to imply that Major League Baseball has a cocaine problem without hard evidence. I’d also like to see the amount of NFL and NBA players that use coke as a comparison. Maybe the HuffPost article will start something, maybe it won’t. But if it does, buckle up because it’s going to a long ride.