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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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jssharo
11/13
So, should people who are found to have driven drunk not be eligible to be baseball managers? What types of employment should they be allowed?
Craig Goldstein
11/13
Those are some nice leading questions you've got there.
David Yeager
11/13
.... wat
Craig Maczkowicz
11/13
I mean...there are at least dozens (maybe hundreds) of candidates who are equally qualified to manage a team in today's game. So, yes, a DUI should definitely be enough of a factor to bump someone behind many of those others. (I would suggest that having been suspended for a year for a cheating scandal should do so as well, but that's a whole different discussion).

Unfortunately it's clear in this case that the primary hiring criteria is "being Reinsdorf's good buddy".
jssharo
11/13
Unfortunate for White Sox fans, but not for their competitors! I am sceptical that LaRussa was a very good choice, but it will be interesting to see how he does.
kluxon
11/14
are larusso.s offence less serious than a j hinch and alex cora .s offences ? baseball has set a 1 year suspension for cora and hinch's transgressions surely la russa deserves worse ?
Shaun P.
11/13
So, should reporters who decide that completely downplaying horrible actions be fired for their lack of decency, or just ignored by the audience they write for? What types of things should they be allowed to write?
ari blum
11/13
Agreed, Nightengale can say whatever he wants. It’s up to the audience to realize that there should at the very least be some form of accountability by La Russa.
Shaun P.
11/13
Actually, my comment was intended as further mocking of the ridiculous questions that Jssharo wrote above. I think Nightingale has shown himself to be entirely devoid of decency and certainly an idiot, and if he worked for a company that was not as consistently horrible as Gannett, I would expect at the least an apology. Everything Jen says about the role of journalists is completely correct, and I fully support her views.

That Nightengale was a sanctimonious pearl-clutching fool over various PED scandals, which were and are far less dangerous to society and public health, only makes me angrier about the whole thing.
jssharo
11/13
They are real questions. People do things. We need standards to evaluate them. What are your standards? Can you articulate them, or are you just interested in posturing?
Shaun P.
11/13
I can, but your questions are not germane to the point of the article, and if anything, deflect and detract from it. This isn't a court room or a legislature, and no one here is making policy. This is about one manager - Tony LaRussa - and the one organization that hired him, and the actions of one reporter who decided to pass on the pathetic talking points of that organization, all in an effort to give cover to the one manager who just so happens to be the owner's friend. Oh, and who did something pretty terrible, and not for the first time, and has shown no remorse nor any inclination to get help. Nor does it seem that his friend the owner will do anything to encourage the manager to get help.

Meanwhile, not only is the entire organization now tainted thanks to the manager and the owner, but we get another example of bad behavior by someone famous / powerful / friend of a rich and powerful person that is normalized to some people, thanks to the efforts of the reporter. I find the whole lot of the three people and their actions completely reprehensible. How about you?
Jen Ramos
11/13
Being a journalist means holding people in power accountable. That's what journalists are supposed to do. I don't see Nightengale doing that here.
William A Peterson
11/13
I thought a journalist job was to report the news not try to sway the reader. Guess that’s changed over the years.
Craig Goldstein
11/13
Even if you wanted that to be the case how does what Nightengale did ("it's embarrassing but not serious, etc.) uphold that standard? He opined and editorialized on behalf of the team and La Russa because he's friends with the owner.

We'll disagree on what the standards are to that effect, but what he's done doesn't even apply to your own.
John Johnston
11/14
Being a journalist means reporting the news. It does not mean holding people in power accountable. It does not mean acting as a political shill. And before someone says I don’t know what I’m talking about, I was married to a reporter for a long time.
Jen Ramos
11/14
I'm literally a journalist and I can tell you that's not what journalism is. It's not *just* reporting the news, but also holding people accountable. Nightengale was doing neither there. And just because you were married to a reporter, that doesn't mean you know what journalism is.
Chris McDonald
11/13
BP should absolutely remove the paywall from this article. Very powerful. Let the world read it.
Craig Goldstein
11/13
Hey Chris, we did remove it. Thanks for letting us know.
Maureen Mielke
11/13
As bad is the recidivist DUI behavior is. The Hall of Famer "I'm legit" nonsense is a reveal entirely of the type of character this guy is. What a buffoon. I remember hearing interviewed defending the Harold Baines HOF selection and he came across as a rambling dolt who was basically saying he's a Hall of Famer because I say so. The White Sox must replace him right?
Stuart Shea
11/13
you'd think so, but then you can't shame the shameless.
44488
11/13
Best wishes, Jen. This shit is the very definition of adding insult to injury.
StarkFist
11/13
Re the tshirt? I disagree. It doesn't "commercialize and commoditize" what La Russa did. It mocks him, and mockery is exactly what he deserves, mostly for driving drunk but also for playing the 'do you know who I am' card to try and evade any consequences.
Craig Goldstein
11/13
It literally turned what he said into a commodity which people profited off of?
StarkFist
11/13
Okay but did La Russa benefit? Looks to me as though he is being made fun of, which he should be.
Craig Goldstein
11/13
No one said he benefited? It's more about benefitting off of someone's dangerous decision. It shouldn't be made light of, it should be denounced.
StarkFist
11/13
Which, it looks like to me, is what was done. The shirts mock La Russa. I mean it seems pretty clear to me that the joke laughs at him, not with him.
Craig Goldstein
11/13
You're not understanding that the point is that laughing at him isn't the solution. Laughing at someone isn't taking the issue seriously, it's making it lighthearted.
Jen Ramos
11/14
The thing is this entire situation isn't something to be laughed at at all. If you think it's something to laugh at, then there's not much I can do than tell you that you should think hard about why you find such a serious issue funny.
popgunandy
11/13
I’ve worked in the field of DUIs for a number of years, and I can tell you that every drunk driver who is caught probably drove under the influence approximately 60 times before that happened. When someone has been caught twice over a period of time it suggests that drunk driving is a regular habit.

I don’t know that Tony La Russa should face the loss of his employment as a result of this, but I do know the club should take serious actions to ensure he is never under the influence when joining the team for activities or leaving for home from activities involving the club.
John Johnston
11/14
Finally a rational response. The courts - and the courts ONLY - handle punishment, but making sure people are sober enough to drive when they leave business events is a legitimate function of an employer.
Craig Goldstein
11/14
No one is asking the White Sox to imprison him, so I'm unclear what the courts have to do with this. Taking seriously a drunk driving incident is well within an employer's purview and that's what's asked here.
NJTomatoes
11/13
Jen, I just want to say I feel terrible that your life has been so tragically altered by such a stupid and evil act on another's part. I hope you have he best of all possible recoveries ahead, however challenging and difficult it may be.
drdaley
11/13
Jen, you express your hurt and your feelings re: drunk driving well. In the late '80's a college friend of mine, Ross, had the exact same thing happen to him on an LA expressway, except he was killed. Left the midwest to go to film school, which he had just finished.He never got the chance to put is creativity to use. Residing in Chicago, I never got to the bottom of what exactly happened, as Ross had no family out west. All I could do was write a letter to the judge when the person went before the court on the death charge. As I understood, no jail time ever occurred. For over a year my car displayed a bumper sticker saying "A drunk driver killed my friend."
I have mixed feelings when it comes to LaRussa, compounded by the fact I am a born and bred Cardinal fan, who has loved every Cardinal victory for the last forty-five years I've lived in Chicago. He must have a drinking problem with two DUI's over some 13 or so years. LaRussa needs to something positive to show some form of amends. I know I would have been greatly upset if Hinch had been selected.
Attitudes towards drunk driving have helped change the impact as it is at it's lowest since 1982. Are these two DUI's enough to disqualify him? I know many Chicagoans feel he is the wrong manager for the Sox, but that was being expressed before this came to light. There were no deaths, no tragic injuries thank goodness. I feel perplexed, yet not outraged. I can understand your reaction.
charles sweedler
11/13
I think LaRussa paying the entirety of his salary for the duration of his contract to a charity that does physical rehab would be a convincing gesture of sincerity.
Jen Ramos
11/14
I don't think that's enough because it doesn't show any personal accountability, nor does it show that the White Sox, or MLB, is showing any accountability. Anyone can donate money, but not everyone will hold themselves accountable.
John Johnston
11/14
It’s the job of the courts to hold him accountable, and no one else’s.
Craig Goldstein
11/14
Leaving laws to enforce ethics is a bad way to go about it. Sorry.
John Johnston
11/14
1. I hate drunk driving, as a drunk driver killed the only child ever named after me one Christmas Eve. 2. Punishment for drunk driving - and other crimes - is to be meted out only by the government, not by employers, the public, or reporters. 3. Trying to argue that someone shouldn’t be employed at a job because they committed a minor crime is considered to be a discriminatory practice. 4. Let he who is without sin cast the first stone; baseball player, coaches, and managers are all human beings and therefore not perfect and they will make mistakes. 5. The lack of grace and mercy in the responses to what LaRussa did is appalling; I have actually lost someone to a drunk driver and yet there is more mercy in me than there seems to be in the lot of you.
Jen Ramos
11/14
There are multiple reasons why he should not be a manager; please see also my colleague Rob Arthur's piece from today. Also, people are not owed grace or mercy, and especially not if they are the cause of trauma or could potentially cause trauma. All I see in your comments is admonishment and lack of empathy, not mercy, however.
John Johnston
11/14
And all I see in your comments are prejudice and an unholy, self-righteous and merciless desire for vigilantism. The government is here to handle crimes and criminals, not you.
John Johnston
11/14
“people are not owed grace or mercy.”

You can’t be serious. If not then I pray that you are never, ever, in a position of power.

“He hath shewed thee, O man, what is good; and what doth the Lord require of thee, but to do justly, and to love mercy, and to walk humbly with thy God?” - Micah 6:8
Ginny Searle
11/14
what sort of grace and mercy is owed to those who are victimized by drunk drivers? to show "grace and mercy" (which appears to you to mean ignoring La Russa's pattern of drunk driving) is necessarily withholding that grace and mercy from victims. I have no argument against your claim that people deserve grace and mercy but in my view holding la russa to account is a part of that—the notion that someone who has made massive mistakes can reach atonement is powerful, but i'm not aware of any concept of justice that doesn't ask those people first admit their mistakes and try to change them. that simply hasn't happened here, and papering over the situation simply paves the way for another, potentially grave, mistake to follow
John Johnston
11/14
This is not a joke. I know a woman who was run over seven times by the same drunk driver - he kept backing over her and trying to jump a curb over and over. It took her two years in rehab just to walk again. Today she’s a very successful businesswoman. The courts punished the driver for his crimes, and she is a good enough human being that she forgave him.

It took me a long time to forgive the drunk who left the company Christmas party drunk and flattened and killed Johnny. It was very hard to do. But showing mercy and granting forgiveness is exactly what good people do.

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