You never expect to be run over by a drunk driver. I certainly didn’t, and especially not while standing on the side of the freeway trying to call for help for a broken down car.
I was told I’m supposed to be dead after being run over. The impact of a car going over 70 MPH on your body is immense.
My body was broken. Fractured bones, a torn aorta near my heart, a collapsed lung, hemothorax, two concurrent bleeds in my brain. My leg was supposed to be amputated. I was intubated and on a ventilator for almost two weeks.
I wasn’t expected to make it past the emergency room.
All because someone chose to get behind the wheel while drunk.
There are many reasons why Tony La Russa shouldn’t be managing the White Sox, but drunk driving is a threat to public safety.
The news broke on Monday that La Russa was charged with a DUI related to his arrest back in February. Tuesday, ESPN obtained the full arrest report.
Quickly, “Hall of Fame baseball person” became a joke used on twitter. People laugh because it’s a drunk guy saying things they think to be funny, but don’t realize (or don’t care about) the severity of La Russa’s actions. At least, it appears they do not.
Never mind that La Russa registered a blood alcohol concentration (BAC) of .08 or more, according to the report ESPN obtained, above Arizona’s legal BAC limit.
Never mind that La Russa ran his car into a curb, potentially endangering anyone around him while he was driving.
It’s fortunate a curb was all he hit.
The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration states that “In 2018 there were 10,511 fatalities in motor vehicle traffic crashes in which at least one driver had a BAC of .08 g/dL or higher. This totaled 29 percent of all traffic fatalities for the year.” Their website even illustrates how often that is, saying, “Every day, almost 30 people in the United States die in drunk-driving crashes — that’s one person every 50 minutes.”
It’s preventable. It’s senseless. And it’s part of a societal larger problem now under a microscope in the baseball world, if only fleetingly. The White Sox and La Russa are hoping this story goes away. So is Major League Baseball. That is clear by the lack of action taken by both the team and the league sofar:
Bob Nightengale reported that “a high-ranking White Sox official told USA TODAY Sports that La Russa is in no danger of losing his job, or receiving any discipline by the club.”
No discipline from the club that hired him with full knowledge of the ongoing case. They also knew about La Russa’s arrest for a DUI in 2007, where he fell asleep in his running car at an intersection. They knew a month later Josh Hancock, one of La Russa’s players, died in an auto accident, driving while intoxicated. They knew that the very thing they’re treating as a non-issue has serious consequences when treated as a non-issue.
They don’t want to talk about it, refusing to issue a statement for three days until finally saying, in essence, “no comment.”
Eventually, people’s attention will turn to something else, so they won’t have to have an uncomfortable discussion with the baseball world or with La Russa about the preventative measures they’re going to take to ensure this doesn’t happen again.
It’s easier for everyone if La Russa’s shame becomes a memed punchline rather than a warning.
For his inebriated, jumbled attempt to deploy the power available to him as a means to avoid consequence to be commercialized and commoditized as a funny whoopsadoodle, rather than a concerning pattern of behavior that puts himself and others at risk.
It’s not just emblematic or representative, but an in-progress demonstration of the overwhelming lack of accountability from all actors involved. From La Russa himself for being unwilling to speak about it, to the White Sox for knowing about it and not only proceeding without hesitation with a hire but going further to not disclose it at the time of the hire, to Reinsdorf for prizing his friendship above his duty to his fan base and society at large.
And from those who were quick to downplay the severity of the situation, pivoting instead to touting La Russa’s managerial acumen and record, as though they were an absolution of his responsibility to himself and everyone else on the road when he gets behind the wheel of a car.
On the White Sox Talk Podcast, Bob Nightengale was quick to answer the question, “How serious of a situation is this for La Russa personally?” with “It’s embarrassing, but it’s not serious.”
At about the 18 minute mark of the podcast, Nightengale said, “I think there’s so many things on his resume that just overshadow an errant judgment. Whether he had a sip of wine, a couple glasses of wine, what have you. There’s a lot of worse things that [have] happened besides a manager getting pulled over on suspicion of DUI.”
Embarrassing, but not serious.
Nightengale, a journalist, is supposed to question those in power. Instead, he uses his considerable platform to diminish the severity of the issue at hand. He does not address the damage we absorb as a society from drunk drivers, but rather dilutes and scrambles the concern, as though the existence of something worse means we cannot rightly register our objections to this current wrong.
What are the worse things that have happened, anyway? That the Astros were found to be guilty of a cheating scandal? (At about 17 minutes into the podcast, Nightengale implied that La Russa would not have a harder time than AJ Hinch or Alex Cora entering their respective clubhouses as a manager.)
How can it be an “errant judgment” when this is not the first time La Russa has been charged with a DUI? The fact that this is the second instance of a DUI charge indicates that it’s not a one-off bad decision made.
And why is a person who is supposed to hold people in power accountable walking along a company line? Why has no one truly questioned the White Sox’s lack of proportional response?
I’ve been left with multiple disabilities after being run over by a drunk driver. I’m currently still immobile and wheelchair-bound because I don’t have safe access to a physical therapist and a physical therapy clinic. Massive traumatic brain injuries are a permanent disability that affects my day-to-day functionality. The ICU and step down unit hospital stay was billed a grand total of more than $900,000. And while I am lucky to have health insurance, that sum doesn’t even include my stay in the hospital rehab wing or my subsequent medical bills or surgeries. I’m the one who has to incur medical debt due to someone’s decision to drive while drunk.
I’ve been left in this situation through complete happenstance on my part, and the selfish decisions of someone else that night. My circumstance could be yours, or a loved one’s. It could be a stranger’s. La Russa could be behind the wheel the next time it happens.
Through their actions and inactions, Reindsorf, the White Sox, La Russa, and Nightengale have shown themselves to be precisely the words they used to describe the situation: embarrassing, but not serious.
Thank you for reading
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