Orioles ahead of the curve on clubhouse beer ban

The Baltimore Sun

The big spring training story of the past few days comes not from the Orioles' winter home in Sarasota, Fla., but from down the road in Fort Myers, where news that the Boston Red Soxhave banned beer in the clubhouse seems to have everyone in a tizzy.

Pundits are pontificating about it, new manager Bobby Valentine is explaining it and the Red Sox players have been asked about it endlessly.

(A personal favorite quote from veteran slugger David Ortiz: "We're not here to drink. We're here to play baseball. This ain't no bar. If you want to drink, drink at home.")

This ain't no bar ... and yet at times last season, particularly in the late innings of games, Red Sox pitchers reportedly treated the clubhouse like a saloon, pounding a few beers and scarfing buckets of fried chicken while their teammates were out on the field, trying to win one for the Olde Towne Team.

News of these antics gave the Red Sox a horrible PR black eye over the winter -- hence Valentine's ban on alcohol in the clubhouse and on the last plane flight of road trips.

(No word on whether the club has banned fried chicken in the clubhouse, too. But it'll probably happen. Team trainers probably get more freaked out about players having high cholesterol levels than late-inning beer buzzes.)

If you're wondering about the Orioles policy on this matter, they've banned beer in the clubhouse for several years now, joining a bunch of other MLB teams that instituted a similar policy after the alcohol-related death ofSt. Louis Cardinals pitcher Josh Hancock in 2007.

Hancock was reportedly drunk and talking on his cell phone when his rented SUV struck a parked tow-truck on the side of a highway in St. Louis.

In any event, it's just a matter of time before all MLB clubs institute a no-alcohol policy in the clubhouse. Allowing young ballplayers to get all beered-up in the clubhouse or on the flight home before they get behind the wheels of their Benzes and Escalades is a recipe for disaster.

Bobby Valentine hasn't managed a game yet. But he's already made the best move he could make.

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