It was reported last week that as many as seven players on the New York Mets were observed using marijuana and, in some cases, having the substance delivered to them right in the locker room.
The law aside, who cares?
Everyone knows smoking marijuana is illegal — I will not debate the merits of that law — but the New York media turned it into an issue of seemingly unmatched importance.
Clearly, any of the Mets in question, if the accusations prove legitimate, should be treated and reprimanded as any average American citizen would be. But this was not the focus of the media attacks last week. The treatment of the issue by the Gotham press was almost, though not quite, as sorry as the on-field performance of the Metropolitans this year.
It was suggested that marijuana use was — get this — one of the contributing factors to the Mets’ performance, or lack thereof, this season. On the surface, this may seem to be an appropriate consideration, but common sense indicates otherwise.
The reports on this issue have indicated that these were not isolated incidents, confined to one specific time period. The Mets’ problem this year has been lack of consistency; New York started the year 12-7, only to lose seven of their next 10. Things got worse, as the team dropped 12 in a row in the following weeks. If the team was consistently lackadaisical on the field, a case could possibly be made that the marijuana use was a big problem.
But the problem has been putting all the pieces together at once. When Mike Piazza was hitting, Robby Alomar and Mo Vaughn were not. When the offense got going, the pitching struggled. In fact, one could write a dissertation on what went wrong with the Mets this year, and drug use would not even be mentioned among the top 100 issues.
Here’s a surprise: professional baseball players, especially when on the road, enjoy late nights and heavy partying. A generalization, of course, but there are books (see Jim Bouton’s “Ball Four”) on the subject. The media did not accuse the Mets of drinking too heavily nor did they suggest that the habit may have affected their performance, especially because in so doing, the team would be no different than any other club in the game.
Are we now to assume that the Mets are the only baseball team that has drug users among its players? (If you even consider answering “yes” to this question, consult your nearest dictionary and look up “naive.”)
The media was right to report on the story of the drug use in that, if true, the individual Mets in question need to be treated as “Joe Public” would in our “blind” justice system. To suggest, however, that pot was the reason for the Mets’ terrible year is ridiculous. Only three of the seven players have been named (Grant Roberts, Mark Corey — who had a seizure earlier in the year and admitted to marijuana use before it occurred — and Tony Tarasco), and none of these three was counted on to lead the team this year.
Unfortunately, not nearly enough of the Mets were high on baseball this year.