Did McNair do the right thing or take the system for a ride?

The Baltimore Sun

Pardon me for not joining the rush to non-judgment when Steve McNair walked on his "DUI by consent" charge Tuesday.

I understand the Ravens are relieved he won't have a disciplinary cloud over his head when he reports for training camp in three weeks. I also have some issues with the law that led to his arrest on a DUI charge even though he was not in the driver's seat.

However, I'm having a little trouble accepting his claim that he thought he was doing the right thing by turning his car keys over to his brother-in-law that night, unless the right thing was to make sure the famous NFL quarterback wasn't the one arrested if one of them got pulled over on the way home from a local nightspot.

Sorry, but if this were about doing the right thing - which I'm translating to mean that he didn't think his brother-in-law was impaired and a danger on the road - then why did the whole thing go down like a typical DUI dodge?

His brother-in-law refuses a Breathalyzer, then pleads to reckless driving even though he was going only 45 mph in a 35-mph zone, which gets McNair off the hook. That's called working the system, not doing the right thing.

Murky statute

Now for my reservations about the whole "DUI by consent" concept. I fully endorse the intent of the Tennessee law, which considers it the equivalent of DUI if a vehicle owner allows an intoxicated person to drive in his place, but I fail to see the practicality of the statute.

It presupposes that a private citizen - presumably under the influence of alcohol - is qualified to determine the sobriety of another individual, something law enforcement officers undergo training to do.

That doesn't mean the owner of the vehicle should not be held responsible for allowing the unsafe operation of his vehicle - quite the contrary - but if the civil liability the owner undoubtedly would assume for a drunken-driving accident isn't a deterrent, a relatively obscure criminal statute probably isn't going to do much good, either.

Selig still mum

Baseball commissioner Bud Selig continues to play it coy when it comes to whether he'll be there when and if Barry Bonds breaks Hank Aaron's all-time home run record.

Selig again refused to address the issue when he met with reporters before Tuesday's All-Star Game, saying he hasn't made a decision.

That makes sense, in a wimpy political sort of way. It's a no-win situation, so why announce a decision while there's still the remotest possibility that it won't have to be made?

I'm hearing rumors that after Bonds' performance in the All-Star Game, Selig has ordered him to have a big after-hours party every night for the rest of the season.

Demolition debate

The Detroit City Council held a public hearing Monday to gauge public feeling about the proposed demolition of Tiger Stadium, which has sat empty at Michigan and Trumbull avenues since September 1999.

City planners want to get on with redevelopment in the area but do not have a developer or financing for the proposed residential and commercial complex that would be built on the site. Opponents aren't buying the notion that the project would move ahead more quickly if they got the old stadium out of the way.

Progress eventually will win, but it will be a sad day when the wrecking ball hits one of the truly classic old ballparks.

All-Star angst

Don't know what bothers me more, that Tony La Russa set up his roster so last year's Most Valuable Player runner-up was waiting for extra innings, or that Albert Pujols acted like the typical spoiled superstar afterward.

"If he wants to get upset, he can get upset," said La Russa, who is starting to sound like a guy who won't be managing the Cardinals next year.

peter.schmuck@baltsun.com

Listen to Peter Schmuck on WBAL (1090 AM) at noon on Saturdays and Sundays.

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